Fireground Operations: How to Nail Your First-Due Strategic Responsibility: Part 5

Although the term “aggressive strategy” may be new, the concept is not. Consider the following. My dad was hired as a firefighter in 1950. His academy graduation photo shows a dozen proud recruits posed in front of a brand-new, four-door, fully...


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5. Implement initial action plan – Congratulations, you have completed a “master craftsman” size-up (you identified problems and identified hazards and developed the initial incident action plan). That qualifies as aggressive strategy. Now it’s time to implement that plan. This means you cannot be inside the building on a hoseline or on the roof with a power saw. You must be outside at a command post (perhaps established at your apparatus).

In the spirit of making the ongoing command foolishness cease, we would like to be clear: Incident commanders do not operate at task-level! Anybody with an Incident Command System (ICS) position designation should be outside the hazard area wearing a colorful vest while manipulating tools that contribute to aggressive strategy: accountability hardware and ICS position status boards. It is appropriate for company officers and team leaders to assist with the manipulation of tactical tools (hose, ladders, etc.). It is not appropriate for incident commanders, safety officers, division supervisors, group supervisors and branch directors to manipulate tactical tools

When the quarterback at your local high school calls a play in the huddle, 11 teenagers have been given assignments. The play selected by the coach is not based on “we always do this on third down”; it is based on a size-up that factors down, distance, score, quarter, time on the clock, which side of the 50-yard line, wind, field condition, etc. In the huddle the quarterback does not convey the size-up information factored to select the play called. When the play is called, each of the 11 players has been assigned and will carry out the assignment when the ball is snapped. If each of the 11 players is going to freelance, then providing size-up information in the huddle would be important and the play irrelevant.

Based on offensive or defensive position, each play has a pre-assignment for each of the 11 players. On the fireground declaring the operational mode can be the equivalent of calling a football play. There is an important distinction between a play assignment and a pre-assignment: with play assignments the players don’t freelance.

Next time: Box four

Box four, the final first-due box, is the establishment of a command post. During the opening of boxes one, two and three, the first-due fire officer had one foot in team-leader responsibility (tactics) and the other foot in command responsibility (strategy). When box four is opened, the fire officer will place both feet in command responsibility. n