How to Nail Your First-Due Strategic Responsibility: Part 4

Back in July (Firehouse ® , July 2012), we described box one of our first-due fire officer “Four-Box Strategic Progression.” Our structured and systematic four-box progression has been crafted so that you nail your first-due strategic...

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We could write an entire article on value-time-size (and likely will), but in a nutshell here is how the V-T-S model works:

• Value – People and property. Is there value? Where is there value?

• Time – How long there will continue to be value. Also factored is how long the structure will survive. A heavy-timber-floor structure will endure fire longer than an engineered-floor assembly supported by unprotected wood I-joists. That said, if an unprotected steel column supports both, the failure of the column would bring both down. (Refer to my structural hierarchy described in the April 2009 issue of Firehouse®.)

• Size – The size of your response package and the resources required. Resources include the number of personnel, gallons of water, the number/size of hoselines, etc.

The determination of V-T-S will determine your fireground operational mode. Key questions to consider are:

• Is there value? Where is there value? Who has the most value?

• Is there time to preserve and protect the value that exists right now? How long will there continue to be value?

• Are enough resources on scene to preserve and protect the value that exists right now? Will responding resources arrive soon enough to preserve and protect the value that exists right now?

The strategic math is simple:

Three yeses = Offensive

One no = Defensive

Value-time-size is scalable; to accommodate the size of your response and the time it will take to assemble an effective force, you can expand the margins of value until you reach three yeses. If you still cannot reach three yeses, protect the neighborhood and develop a strategy for dealing with the media.

Problems and hazards would be listed on a fire officer tool such as the IMS Alliance First-Due ITAC Status Board shown below.

The status board shorthand is explained below:

F2 = Fire on floor two

S2 = Smoke on floor two

SATT = Smoke in the attic

PO2 = Possible occupants on floor two

PO1 = Possible occupants on floor one

E1 = Exposure floor one

ED = Exposure side D

As there are no verified occupants (VO) or access (A) problems, they are not listed on the board; if there is not a problem, it is not listed. You could also note the side information, but you won’t forget that. Once you have seen and captured that there is fire on floor two, you will not forget from which side and from how many windows fire is showing. This process must be quick and simple.

Also, do not complicate the process. For example, if there are two or three occupancies with fire and smoke showing, pick one to be the primary occupancy. List the problems for that occupancy and note the other two occupancies as exposure problems. Example: EB (exposure Bravo) and ED (exposure Delta). Problems for each exposure would be listed at the command post or on division status boards. Later, the action plan to solve those problems would be added. More on this when we open box three in a future issue.

This list of problems and hazards will serve as the most important strategic action during the entire fireground operation. It will determine the operational mode and be used to develop the incident action plan. The important point is that the fire officer looked for and captured problems and hazards. In case you missed the significance: the officer looked for specific problems. This few seconds of first-due fire officer strategic focus is critical.

If you have fire officers who refuse to do their fundamental first-due strategic responsibility, perhaps you should select new fire officers. Fundamental fire officer responsibility is ignored when the first on-scene fire officer jumps off the rig and defaults to a fast attack.


Strategic legacy

This series of articles serves as an introduction to our “Four-Box” process, “big six size-up” and the V-T-S mode and position determination model. These articles scratch the surface of how to nail your first-due strategic responsibility, but nail it you must if you aspire to be a master-craftsman fire officer!