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  1. #1
    Forum Member bjlffire's Avatar
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    Default Assuming Command long before onscene

    I have done several searches and can not find it.

    I am looking for the section of NIMS that states you cannot assume command before being on scene.

    I know it is there I just can't find it.

    This has caused some issues in response, actions as well as personell.
    serveral questional out comes.

    Thanks


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    I know for a fact that it is mentioned in IS-701.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bjlffire View Post

    I am looking for the section of NIMS that states you cannot assume command before being on scene.
    Why? NIMS is a tool and while the Fed's would like you to think it's the best practices model for all incident command, just plain 'ole ICS basics asserts that the IC is someone at the scene. Why in hell would someone accept total responsibility before arriving on scene? Sure the Fire Chief is ultimately responsible, but assuming command says, "I'm now in charge of the incident" and if you're not there, how can you even begin to command with any certainty. On the other hand, this in no way precludes an incoming officer from making assignments to other incoming units as long as it is not conflicting with those at the scene.

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    Just to play devil's advocate a little here, since NIMS is meant to expand to large incidents and has it's origins in wildfires out west, what does being on scene actually mean? In those types of incidents, the command post may be miles away from the actual fire line. In those cases, if you are getting accurate info, why does the IC have to be in the immediate vicinity.

    Now, those types of incidents are very different than a single family house fire. I don't think that assuming command while still enroute is a good idea, but don't necessarily see a difference between that and having a command post miles away.

  5. #5
    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eng34FF View Post
    Now, those types of incidents are very different than a single family house fire. I don't think that assuming command while still enroute is a good idea, but don't necessarily see a difference between that and having a command post miles away.
    The difference I see is this -

    Assuming Command while in route, no units on scene - you don't have a size up of the situation - I personally would not feel comfortable 'calling the shots' without knowing what the situation is beyond call-taker/dispatcher information.....

    Having a Command Post away from an established scene - you ahve units at the scene who are able to relay information back to the Command Post so the IC can make decisions.....

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    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Not sure if this comment should be in this thread or the dispatch thread -

    Our dispatchers will occasionally call the IC for an incident even though no units are on-scene and no one has declared command - it's just their way to get the highest ranking person responding to answer up.

    As for the location of the command post - I've heard it suggested that the IC kit should include a pair of handcuffs so the IC can be secured to a suitable fixed object...

    The "command post" should be where the IC can manage the incident. The entire incident. For a small incident that can be pretty much right in the middle of it.

    For a large incident, the IC should be far enough away as to not interfere physically with the operation. Once the "360" is done, we've got radios or runners.

    As for the original question - command being on scene makes sense. I may fancy myself as "command" whilst I'm still several miles from the scene (and we do have those who will do so), but the senior member on-scene knows what's going on and should be calling the shots until I arrive and have command turned over to me. Until I'm on scene, I'm just "Chief X" and should communicate as such.

    That doesn't mean that I can't have any input.

    Bear in mind I'm speaking from a volunteer standpoint, where the first in apparatus may have a mix of personnel, not all of them command material.

    If Joe Fireman is the senior FF on scene and reports we've got a good one going, I may step in and call for additional alarms or special equipment if I know that it will be needed. I may call for a response by the electric utility, or whatever. Meanwhile the on-scene crew is doing the stuff an on-scene crew should be doing, whatever that may be.

    But I'm still not "command" until I arrive on scene.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pasobuff View Post
    The difference I see is this -

    Assuming Command while in route, no units on scene - you don't have a size up of the situation - I personally would not feel comfortable 'calling the shots' without knowing what the situation is beyond call-taker/dispatcher information.....

    Having a Command Post away from an established scene - you ahve units at the scene who are able to relay information back to the Command Post so the IC can make decisions.....
    I think we are in agreement. I had made the assumption from the first post that the initial units were on scene and the Chief was assuming command from his buggy while in route. Of course you know what happens when you assume

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    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjlffire View Post
    I am looking for the section of NIMS that states you cannot assume command before being on scene.
    I don't know that NIMS/ICS says that you can't assume command prior to arrival but it does say that the first arriving unit should establish command which certainly implies it.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

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    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Why? NIMS is a tool and while the Fed's would like you to think it's the best practices model for all incident command, just plain 'ole ICS basics asserts that the IC is someone at the scene.
    NIMS and "plain 'ole ICS" are, for the most part, exactly the same thing.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

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    Forum Member DeputyMarshal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pasobuff View Post
    Assuming Command while in route, no units on scene - you don't have a size up of the situation - I personally would not feel comfortable 'calling the shots' without knowing what the situation is beyond call-taker/dispatcher information.....
    Bingo!
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"

    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

  11. #11
    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Plus the old-old ICS and Fireground Commander worked about the same as the NFA ICS and this new NIMS stuff.

    Whoever makes the scene first in the incident commander. Whatever rank.

    No Chief or other Officer should assume the role of IC if they have not arrived! Plain stupid.
    Stay Safe and Well Out There....

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    MembersZone Subscriber CKirk922's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RFDACM02 View Post
    Why? NIMS is a tool and while the Fed's would like you to think it's the best practices model for all incident command, just plain 'ole ICS basics asserts that the IC is someone at the scene. Why in hell would someone accept total responsibility before arriving on scene? Sure the Fire Chief is ultimately responsible, but assuming command says, "I'm now in charge of the incident" and if you're not there, how can you even begin to command with any certainty. On the other hand, this in no way precludes an incoming officer from making assignments to other incoming units as long as it is not conflicting with those at the scene.
    Quietly withholding bitter comments having seen this happen way too many times. (NOT lol)
    A coward stands by and watches wrongs committed without saying a word...Any opinions expressed are purely my own and not necessarily reflective of the views of my former departments

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    I know our county dispatchers will call for command while everyone is enroute to relay information (such as caller believes fire is out, there is confirmed entrapment, and stuff like that....) but the highest ranking officer or senior firefighter ON SCENE is command until they transfer it to a higher rank..... so if a senior firefighter got on scene and reported a working kitchen fire county would address that person as command until they were notified of a command change when a chief arrived on scene....... if you haven't been to the scene yet and have no first had size-up and knowledge of whats happening I don't see how you could be confident in calling county and cancelling or requesting resources..... I personally have never heard someone call a 2nd alarm without having confirmed a working fire or heard anyone cancel resources before confirming a fire was out

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    While I'm no advocate of assuming command before you know what you have, there are times when none of your personnel are on scene reports from dispatch require you up the response. Going from an AFA to getting multiple reports would force me to upgrade to a first alarm by our SOP. Similarly, knowing what you have coming, and other factors, certain reports from the scene could cause you to request additional units (ex: PD report multiple victims trapped on the third floor). I would not be quick to countermand or over step the personnel onscene though. If they want to relay info tot he incoming chief to make a call, that's one thing, but actually taking command before arrival? Nope.

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    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    A good example might be what I deal with at work - I respond to a fire alarm (as per my responsibilities), at the same time the FD is dispatched....fire alarm drop only.....I get there first and assume Command....the Batt. Chief calls over the radio for an update - I tell him we have xxx.....say, multiple heads on a floor with progression of the number.....he then upgrades his FD response to a 2nd alarm.....

    Once the BC gets on scene, he has 'Command' as far as the FD goes - and we work a Unified Command at the CP.....

    On the Dispatch side - I once dispatched a call for an audible alarm sounding from a building.....normal structure response.....one of the first responding Chiefs called in while in route that he had smoke showing and immediately requested mutual aid - knowing this was an old, historic building...right next to another historic building (theater).....he was still blocks away and calling in requests.....

    This also goes back to knowing your district, and knowing the buildings and how they are constructed and occupied.....if I remember correctly we ended up with at least 5 ladder trucks at this call operating defensively.....AND save the theater with no extension!

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