Speak Up: Tactical Vs. Strategic Decision-Making on Arrival

I have been using elements of Chief Mark Emery’s series “How to Nail Your First-Due Responsibility” to reinforce the importance of distinguishing between tactical and strategic-level decision-making in the minds of our first-arriving officers. One...


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I have been using elements of Chief Mark Emery’s series “How to Nail Your First-Due Responsibility” to reinforce the importance of distinguishing between tactical and strategic-level decision-making in the minds of our first-arriving officers.

One of the frequent requests that at this point has remained unanswered is for the development of a checklist to guide their decision-making. I have been somewhat reluctant to provide one because most existing tools tend to either be so generic that they are of little practical value or conversely are so detailed that decision-makers get lost in the weeds of tactical-level concerns.

Chief Mark Emery’s articles have been well conceived and at times quite thought provoking. Thank for your fine work.

Joseph De Francisco

Fire Coordinator

Madison County Fire and Rescue

Wampsville, NY

Arrival reports

I’ve been enjoying reading Mark Emery’s multi-part series, “How to Nail Your First-Due Strategic Responsibility” regarding the duties of initial-arriving fire officers

It seems like we, as company officers, are stretched so thin on the fireground that we do botch our arrival reports because we’re in a mad dash to get a thousand things done in two minutes – with less staffing. I thank and applaud Chief Emery for the work he is doing for us.

Beau Gardner

Lieutenant/Paramedic

Port Orange Fire Rescue

Port Orange, FL

Predictable equals preventable

I am writing to express our office’s thanks to Firehouse® and to one of your contributors, Daniel Byrne, for his excellent article “Global Lessons: Bringing Fire Prevention Home” featured on your website (http://www.firehouse.com/article/10863663/global-lessons-bringing-fire-prevention-home). This article, as with Dan’s previous submissions, continues to emphasize that the fire service must take responsibility for shifting its collective mindset from suppression to prevention. A firefighter I knew once very perceptively stated that there is no honor in fighting a fire that should have been prevented (through education). Dan’s article clearly supports this remark.

Although there will always be a need for fire suppression and rescue, it is consistent fire safety education that will ultimately have the most profound effect in reducing loss of life and property from fire – including the lives of our firefighters.

Admittedly, the fire problem ultimately belongs to the entire community (in fact, it is, as Dan stated, an issue global in scope), and the fire department alone cannot have a long-lasting impact in reducing fires without a buy-in as to public fire safety/prevention education, code enforcement and promotion of home fire sprinklers. However, Dan makes an undeniable point that predictable equals preventable. We cannot keep calling predictable and therefore preventable fires “accidents” as though they were random, unplanned events. In fact, what we call accidents are many times actually bad judgments people make about safety in general.

If we as the fire service are aware of the primary causes of fire within our communities, and do not go far enough with education, we are in part culpable. No, we can’t do it alone, but until we back up our efforts to stemming the main cause of fire – human behavior – we will continue to needlessly jeopardize the lives of our firefighters, as well as the public.

Carol Nolte

Public Education Officer

West Virginia State

Fire Marshal’s Office

Charleston, WV

Education: A secondary means of egress

You are a firefighter. You train during every shift in the valuable areas of hoseline deployments, VES, RIT/self-rescue, truck company operations and the like. You work to improve your firehouse and the tools you operate with. You are a proactive firefighter who takes pride and ownership in your career. You train with your engine company working on communication, teamwork and learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You identify weaknesses and train on them. You preplan strategic structures and learn your first-due zone like the back of your hand. You know what needs to be done on a fire scene and you do it. You do it well. You stay busy with proactive tasks and always err on the side of caution. You are aware of the term “tunnel vision” and you consciously avoid it on the fire scene. Sound familiar?

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