1. #1
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    Default How to critique with other FD'S

    My main question is that our department recently has been involved with several calls with our mutual-aid departments that have not gone as well as they should have, and I am interested in responses as to how our department can open dialogue with these other departments, in an attempt to better all of our departments involved.
    Understanding that our department is not perfect by any means, we consistently train and re-train, and critique each incident to try and accomplish more in the area of improvement.
    However, our mutual-aid will generally appear frustrated and angered that we would like to open this type of dialogue by insisting that our department is just trying to run the incidents and place blame on the other departments, which is far from the case.
    In fact, we wish these departments and ours to grow and learn and get better at each call which is not happening without any conversation amongst these departments and ours. Fact is, these departments feel that they are doing everything correct and proper.
    Again, not being perfect, we are situated where we are called on many times with these departments, and our members are getting frustrated that the same situation with them arises at each incident and it is not getting any better.

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    We used to have the same problem many years ago. It starts at the top with the chiefs. We now have a fire chiefs advisory board to talk about county fire issues. If you can get the chiefs to talk then it gets the ball rolling so pretty soon everyone starts talking then when you do have a scene that needs to be critiqued more people are willing to get involved. Just make sure that everyone understands that it is not a finger pointing thing.

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    Invite them to a critique. Or better yet, request that they attend one. Start and keep it positive; anything you criticize make sure there's converstation as to why and how it could be done better. It may catch on.

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    We too have had this issue and it happens all across the nation. First thing is first. Neither department should be talking about the other dept. Believe me word gets back fast. If you talk about them or vice versa, you will hear it. Second, training should be performed with both or all depts that are having this issue. You will learn what they do and what is expected from their members, they will learn the same. Each depts SOPs, SOGs and policies all vary so what you do will not be exactly the same as other depts. As long as the no one gets hurt, and the job gets done is all that matters. Try and work with the other dept, become a tight group and problems should go away. It all starts with your Board President and or Chief, someone has to initiate coming together and stopping the bull.

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    Thank you for the replies so far. There is no such Advisory Board within our County or within our Township per say, and these other departments have no SOG'S or SOP'S to speak of. And as for training, we have asked in the past for them to come and attend ours or likewise, however, they do not show, and theirs is inconsistent to say the least.
    I am glad that no one has got hurt to date, and hopefully that will continue, however, I see so many things that could go wrong so easily for our people and theirs, more so because of the lack of training or knowledge, and for the most part the injuries would probably be happening to our people since they are ultimately the ones inside or doing the bulk of the grunt work in and around the more dangerous areas of a fire scene.
    Maybe I will just try to hold a meeting with the chief officers and express these concerns without trying to finger point but stressing the safety issues as well as the operational issues.
    Again, Thanks..

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    You should have a Mutual Aid association at least. Or at least an equivalent. Many times if one of those traveling workshops or leadership training opportunities became available, would recommend you and some of the chiefs of the departments in question, travel to the session together. Be surprised how quick you end up working together then. Soon you will get to depend on each other. Propose it yourself and get it rolling.

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    Maybe I will just try to hold a meeting with the chief officers
    That is step #1.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I don't want to step on any toes or make anyone anger but...

    In our county we do everything we can to work together. It has not always been so good in the past but now we see ourselves as one team (At least that is what I see).

    The other departments in your county may think they are doing everything correct because maybe that was the way they were taught, as you believe you are doing everything correct. But do not assume you or they are correct. Dissension starts with I'm correct and your incorrect. If you want to get to the point of seamless mutual aid the best way to start is try each others "way" and learn from each other. And as you already said that is by training together. There may not be anything wrong with either one, just different techniques and perspectives. You may find that there is a better "way" to do something other than the "way" it is being done at any department in your county.

    Do you have a State Fire Commission that handles State Certified Training? If so you can get together with them and see if they are willing to work with your county to get to a cohesive training program.

    If you and your department are serious about doing this, maybe you can try changing your training schedule to match another departments training schedule and meet at their station for training. Make it for classes that all firefighters like, such as extrication. If you take the first big step then others should follow.

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    To echo what others have said, a long term solution starts at the top of all involved departments, and goes down.

    Inviting other departments to your own in-house training probably isn't going to go very well because, well, you're teaching the way you do it, not necessarily the way they do it. If you want to get involvement from mutual aid departments, host a training class put on by an outside agency or instructor.

    You can't effectively (in my opinion) have successful multi-department in-house training exercises unless you have common operating procedures, and that again goes to the top.

    Here's an example of how we've eased some issues with working with mutual aid----- Our big focus is wildland fires. And issues we've had with requesting and being the mutual aid on these fires is the small differences on radio procedure, unit identifiers, minor tactical issues, etc. Not big stuff--small stuff. This could be solved with common SOGs. Give me 5 more years, and maybe we'll get there. But in the meantime, a temporary solution (that works great) is when we request XYZ Fire Department for mutual aid, we assign them as a Division in ICS. They operate on their tactical frequency. That way, one of their people is in charge of all of their resources, and only one of them is reporting to the IC. Keeps the little stuff from really mucking things up.

    Multi-department critiques haven't started yet. But it'll happen. You have to find a way to develop a working relationship first.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    In the NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide there is something called an "After Action Review." I know that these are used for wildland fires but this is good to use on anything.

    Here is what it says.

    the climate surrounding an AAR must be one in which the participants openly and honestly discuss what transpired, in sufficient detail and clarity, so everyone understands what did and did not occur and why. Most imortantly, participants should leave with a strong desire to improve their proficiency.

    An AAR is preformed as immediately after the event as possible by the personnel involved.

    The leader's role is to ensure there is skilled facilitation of the AAR.

    Reinforce what respectful disagreement is OK. Keep focused on the what, not the who.

    Make sure everyone participates.

    End the AAR on a positive note.

    What was planned?

    What actually happened?

    Why did it happen?

    What can we do next time?
    (Correct weaknesses / sustain strengths)



    This needs to be facilitated so that it doesn't turn into pointing fingers and yelling. To do this each person tells what was planned, what actually happened, why did it happen, and what can we do next time from their prospective not as a group as whole. If they messed up they will say it and say what they will do next time its not meant to be something like this.

    "Bob, so what was planned?" Chief asks.

    "Well we got dispatched and enroute we discussed who was going to do what and I was told to get the irons and start forceable entry. But it all turned to s**t when Jim over there decided to do my job and I ended up having to find what the f**k he was doing so it was a f***ing cluster after that and everything went down hill from there."

    So my suggestion is that you try to implement this on your department for everything not just when you have a mutual aid incident. If this incident is in your area and you are calling in people from another department or district just make it clear that they have to participate in the event so everyone can learn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Catch22 View Post
    Invite them to a critique. Or better yet, request that they attend one. Start and keep it positive; anything you criticize make sure there's converstation as to why and how it could be done better. It may catch on.
    What he said and 2 more things. Joint training at a off site location and breakfast or dinner with the closest MA satations.

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    First thing get rid of the word critique. Engineer141 hit the nail on the head with the AAR. I spent 5 years of my army career being an observer/control and performing AARs for Battalion (400 - 800 men) and Brigade (>1000 with a General in charge) size army units and the things everyone has mention here came out in these same situations. If you can get all the mutual aid units to conduct a brief AAR prior to leaving the scene, when actions are fresh, people should use it as a learning experience. Major pointers are Have a Thick Skin, Don't attack, list 3 things that went well or were sustained (went as planned) and 3 things that need improvement. This will not fix those who think they are perfect or don't care but it is a start. The Army has an AAR manual that I think is available to the public, it may be a good reference guide.

    Only fools and properly trained individuals undertake dangerous task.

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    Cool AARs

    Having been involved in many AARs, involving Local Response (LRA), State Response (SRA) and Federal Response (FRA) I've learned that if I didn't understand the actions of their Crew during the Critique/AAR I'll let it go while we are gathered as a group. Once we start to seperate I will go to the C.O. and as them for a smaller meeting with just the C.Os. It's at this time that I'll ask them in more detail what they saw, why they made that decision they made and what they based that decision on. 9 times out 10 I find out that it was me misunderstanding what they stated in the original AAR. If I find that it's a training issue then I note it and deal with it through a Joint Training Exercise that I lead, this way everybody functions as I want them to. I'll address it as "I realize that other Departments do this different ways, but let's try this and see what everybody thinks....."

    I've found addressing it this way is nonevasive, nonabrasive and allows the Departments involved to either adapt or reject how the other works.

    If it's a safety issue then address it in the original AAR, but keep to the safety point. Better yet addressing safety issues on the Fire Ground is very effective also, but be sensitive or you'll never get through to them.

    This is just what I've experienced and what has worked for us. We will also use a White Board and make a lot of notes that way folks feel important and add value to their comments.
    "Be LOUD, Be PROUD..... It just might save your can someday when goin' through an intersection!!!!!"

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    Default How to critique with other FD'S

    Perhaps approach used in critical incident stress debriefs would have some value.

    After a round of introductions and laying out the ground rules, simply go around the room and have each person tell what their role was, and what they did/observed.

    There are no accusations or critiques of the efforts of others. Everything should be from the standpoint of the speaker - "I was unable to communicate the situation to him" as opposed to "he wouldn't listen."

    What usually ends up happening during and after a CISD is that everyone gains a view of the "big picture." Now the fellow who was miffed that someone wouldn't listen to him may come to understand that it was because there was something bigger going on at the time.

    Of course there are those who just won't "get it," and that will have to be dealt with off-net.

    The same approach could be used to discuss common SOPs. It's important to present your neighboring FDs with an attitude that says, "we've had some operational issues. We don't know that anyone is at fault, but we need to get together and understand each department's approach/philosophy so we can iron those issues out."

    If you can start the dialogue, and get several departments involved, it will become a learning experience for all. Just because you are having problems with both A and B doesn't mean that A and B are getting along just fine.

    In the end, you may see everyone bend a little, especially once it turns out that your really aren't that far apart.

    Something else to consider for any such meeting would be to bring in a neutral, respected party to serve as moderator.

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