The Principles of Battle Part 4

The Principles of Battle Part 4 Simplicity + Economy of Force It has been stated, "The dependence and reliance of technology as part of our fireground structure has proven to be deadly". No truer words have been spoken. Simplicity and the economy of force are and always will be the mainstay to effective fireground operations. Everyday some product manufacture is trying to sell the fire service on the next big thing. The $10,000.00 dollar item that will save the next 100 firefighters. Yet, what we fail to understand is the dependence on technology only takes away form the simplicity of teaching the mind to make those decisions which are appropriate upon the conditions and the resources available o the Incident Commander at the time. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the use of items which have allowed us to perform at a higher level, yet each item is a tool and the tool is as only good as the Craftsmen using the tool. A tool in the hands of an armature is only as good as the amateur’s skill sets and knowledge. What I find to be absurd is spending thousands of dollars on a single piece of equipment with no training budget to give the realistic and appropriate training to provide mastery of use and skill of the tool. In simple words, tools don't make the fireground, firefighters with a high level of mastery in the skill and the Craft of Fire using the rights tools make the fireground. I personally get a little cranky when some salesmen try to tell me how great this tool is when he or she has never used one at a fire. My first question is usually, "How well does it work without the battery"? followed by, "How well does it work when the environment is 500 degrees or its submerged in water"? Let’s face it, technology is great but let’s not get all fired up over the next great thing that everyone has to have and holds bake sales to get enough funds to line the manufactures pockets with. So here is my spin on it. SIMPLCITY and ECONOMY OF FORCE. As an Incident Commander you must prepare ahead of time, clear, simple, uncomplicated and concise battle plans for the fireground. These battle plans are your standard SOP's, SOG's which are understood and communicated often. They are trained upon often and under constant evaluation. A good friend once said, "A plan is no good until it’s been shot at". He would know he spent 20 years as a Navy SEAL. The other aspect of this is the absolute understanding that under stress, simple will become complex. Simple plans reduce miscommunication and misunderstandings. So how do we go about this? Well it’s simple, start with your primary needs and build your model or plan from there. You can't fight fire without an established water supply, and it does no good to pull a handline which is under gunned from the get go. Don't buy into urban myths about equipment and believe everything the sales guy tells you. Discover for yourself and get out there, put the equipment and more importantly your people though the test and if the equipment or your people are failing on the test plate, then you need to re-evaluate your plan and simplify your approach. Go back to step one and see were the breakdown has occurred. Don't go forward until you have resolved the issue. In the immortal words of John Wooden, "We will practice the basics until they become habit, then we will practice them some more". Don't be afraid of adding some stress both physical and mental to the training evaluation. If they whine about the training being too hard then that's the first thing that needs to be addressed. Finally, when it comes to economy of force, it's imperative to understand the importance of placing companies in positions of tactical advantage. Check box tactical operations are dangerous and non-effective for the customer. Just because the tactical worksheet has a box, doesn't mean it must be filled to be successful on the fireground. A recent fire illustrated this very situation, the incident called for two initial hand lines to be effective in stopping the rapid advancement of the interior fire. Yet, the I/C saw a need to assign a company to accountability. Hell, he only had two companies on scene! But the accountability was the second box on the chart, so it must be filled. Let's face the facts, the sooner the fire goes out, the better result for the customers, both internal and external. Since most agencies are continuing to battle resource allocation, let's be judicious in our use of personnel and effectively assign them based upon need. The needs of the customers are always the same, put the fire out, search the building and make it as nice as possible before we leave. Take care of Ms. Smith and her kids or pets, take care of your people and rehab them and give them a good once over before they de-mob. Check all your equipment and tailboard the incident before you breakdown while it's fresh in everyone's mind. Tailboard sessions should occur at the individual level, company level and command level on all incidents before we breakdown. With that…Sit back and enjoy the Cuppa