Incident Commanders are often tasked with assuming command of an active incident that has developed prior to their arrival. I’m sure all of us have been exposed to those that have called a second alarm from the bunk room based upon reports from dispatch only to discover it was a dumpster fire behind an industrial building and not a working fire in an industrial building. We use this as an analogy to shed light on actions based upon perception not actions based upon reality or simply, Facts and Presentations. Often we find those individual that lack the basic understanding of fireground functions will base their decision on a very limited view of the situation and minimal informational input of the situation, rather than a global or comprehensive view of the developing situation. This is exactly why the old “Capture a 360* of the structure philosophy” becomes an important ingredient to our success model.
It is important for all command officers and incident commanders to capture a complete “360’” themselves or delegate to another Command Officer or at a minimum a Fire Officer in order to receive accurate feedback on the conditions of the structure and the growth of the incident within the first few minutes of establishing you action plan. This continuous size-up of the structure and incident must become a component of the overall comprehensive action plan. Adjustments may need to be made based upon the feedback you receive or the evidence in which you visualize. Remember, the building has seven sides, the four exterior walls, the roof, the basement (if applicable) and the interior.