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  1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest


    If you do something that needs to get done on the fireground is it freelancing. I guess it depends on what you do and how your SOP's are set up. Is freelancing throwing ground ladders without being told to, is freelancing pulling a hoseline off the piece when your the lineman on a 1st due house fire with smoke showing without being ordered to? Is freelancing breaking out a window that's smoke stained and pushing smoke. What about cutting off the gas on the scene of a basement fire ? Or is freelancing opening up a roof with a good fire below without getting permission. How about opening the nozzle and putting it out the window for ventilation after the fire is knocked without being told to. Or is freelancing doing anything without getting permission ?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest



    Well, I think "freelancing" can be viewed by different people different ways.

    In reponse to the examples you have given:
    I would say NO it is not to:
    1). Pulling the line if you are the first due attack piece.
    This is PROBABLY s SOP for any company in the U.S. We ALL know that the line is going to be used for either 1). Interior or 2). Exterior. I would say that you cross that "freelancing" line if you just pulled your crew and began an interior attack before the OIC decided on the safety issues involved.
    2). Myself, I would vent the room if I was SURE..NO..POSITIVE that the fire was NOT going to become a danger somewhere else in the structure by my ventilating. (In all probablility, I would most likely call Command, and advise them of my intentions PRIOR to that tactic, just to cover my *****, and any other teams that may be performing other tasks(i.e. SAR)

    The rest of the topics (in my opinion) I would definitely say are freelancing. The reason(s) behind said decision is the tactics that are all mentioned are something that could cause a worse situation if not done properly, or without complete knowledge of the TOTAL situation. I know that I am aware of the "big picture" when I arrive on scene, but then I tend to focus on task(s) assigned to me, and therefore, could NOT make a qualified decision that MAY put OTHER firefighters at risk.

    Just my .02

    Your Brother In The Service,
    Rob Herpel
    Vice-Pres./Asst. EMS Coordinator
    Fremont Rural Fire Department

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Interesting question, I think I would consider freelancing doing something on a scene that has the possibility of having a detrimental impact on the overall operation and doing so without the knowledge or approval of the IC. (others I'm sure will point out holes in this definition)
    If one of my guys tossed up a ladder I would praise him for providing that additional exit route, breaking out windows randomly is probably not a good idea though, nor is random roof ventilation. Turning the gas off is a good thing though.
    I think you'll find many different opinions on this one.

    David Brooks,
    Lieutenant, NRFR
    Newmarket Fire & Rescue
    Newmarket, New Hampshire
    (All opinions are my own)

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'd have to say that all of those actions/situations MAY qualify as freelancing depending on the situation. If you're part of a crew that works together regularly and you each know what the other (and yourselves) are expected to do as a team and as relating to your assignment, then no, I don't believe it is freelancing. If you arrive at an incident with a high likelihood of growing, and ICS is initiated, ask your OIC or point out to him what you see that needs to be done. If you're doing it on your own without orders and without letting your OIC know what you're doing and why, then yes, I'd say that's freelancing. ICS works great, once you get used to using it. It also helps a LOT if you have competent officers that you have confidence in. All it takes is one guy freelancing and ICS can fall apart very fast. So, give your officers a chance and don't hesitate to point out things to them that you think they may have missed. Be safe.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I always thought that "Freelancing" was when you happen to show up at another company's/departments call. For example: If your in a neighboring town and they get a fire call and you show up to "lend a hand". This doesn't happen too much with paid departments, more of an area that has volunteer fire companies.

    For what you have metioned, I would say no it is not freelancing...more like doing your job. Somethings are automatic and do not need orders. Your officer should expect you to do certain things automatically without needing to issue an order such as pulling the first line, rescuing occupants in immediate danger or venting.

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I would say that anything that is done per SOPs by a company or individual is not freelancing.
    On our job freelancing is when a company or individual is sent to do a task but takes it upon themselves to do something different without having sufficient justification to alter their original task. Like taking care of life safety or an exposure before doing the first assignment. The first assignment would be less important than this other task. Fire fighters have to take the initiative and do what needs to be done at times without having to be given direct orders. This is why we are highly trained professionals.
    We also have times when a company is split up and the individual members go and take care of their assignments. Then when done they go and do what they want -freelance-before reporting back to their officer.
    We really don't have a big problem with freelancing but there is also a lot of things that get done per SOP without orders.
    I guess why they are called Standard Operating Procedures.
    Darren (Sirene) Reeves

  7. #7
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Here's an example of Freelancing that happened at a call I was on.
    A structure fire in an area not served by Hydrants. A tanker shuttle is set up. One of the companies assisting on the call pulls in with there engine which carries around 1,200 gallons of water and instead of feeding the primary attack engine. They pull lines off there Engine and begin attacking the fire. En though they were suppose to supply the primary attack engine. They didn't contact command and there were already a sufficient number of lines pulled from the first engine.
    I would say this is a good example of freelancing. I think there is a fine line between doing your job without being told every little thing and just out and out doing what you want. Which would be freelancing.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Freelancing around here usually happens after the fire is knocked down and overhauled, and people are still "creating" reasons to be in the fire room destroying things, or, when guys "wander" away from their crew during the fire, usually on the outside because they can't sit still in staging or as RIT. Also, they preach sticking with your crew, then when we do have a fire, I get told to "meet up with the other crews" in the building so my Captain can be "Outside Command". Freelancing?

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Originally posted by RescueCoFireman:
    I always thought that "Freelancing" was when you happen to show up at another company's/departments call. For example: If your in a neighboring town and they get a fire call and you show up to "lend a hand". This doesn't happen too much with paid departments, more of an area that has volunteer fire companies.
    In our area, we call that person who shows up uninvited a "Squirrel".

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Not an easy question to answer; but here's my honest answer or two cents:

    Some words are best defined by using it's opposite. Example: good is the opposite of bad, fat is the opposite of skinny.

    "Freelancing" is the opposite of "Atta-boy!"

    Do something that works - everybody says: "Atta-boy! Good thinking!"

    Do something that doesn't work - everybody says: "You stupid freelancing so and so!"

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest



    I don't believe that most of what you have described would be considered "free lanacing" on our job, at least not by officers and chiefs that know their jobs and know what they are taklking about.

    When a pump operator takes it upon himself to throw additional ladders, flake out lines, chock doors, etc., I would not consider it free lancing, as long as he has his portable radio with him and is never out of contact with his crew inside. Actions such as these serve to make the fireground safer and more efficient.

    However, when it comes to horizontal ventilation, all actions MUST be carefully coordinated, and consideration must be given to the location of the fire and the positioning of CHARGED hose lines. The practice of arbitrarily breaking out windows just because smoke is comming out of them can often have the dire consequnces of intensifying and spreading the fire. The tragedy at Cherry Road is a prime example of what can happen when horizontal ventilation and and engine company operations are not coordinated.

    As far as vertical ventilation is concerned, it can and should usually be done right away without the need to get permission or coordinate with engine company actions. Removing skylights and scuttle hatches should be done immediately at every fire by the roof team. This will make it much easier for the engine to push in when it is ready, and will not usually cause a fire to intensify or spread. In fact, it can and usually will prevent flashover from occurring.

    Cutting the roof, however, should only be done if the fire has posession of the top floor and/or attic/cockloft areas (or on a 1-story building with a cockloft and/or no natural openings). There are, of course, exceptions to this. The roofs of balloon frame Queen Anne type structures with fire in the basement and extending upward should be cut right away to prevent the mushrooming of heat,smoke and flames on the top floor and attic.

    To sum this overdrawn answer up, actions taken on the fire ground which are coordinated, communicated and and result in enhancing the safety and efficiency of the fireground would never be considered free lancing in my book!

    [This message has been edited by DCFD1051 (edited 04-12-2001).]

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    You guys must be reading the abridged book or firefighting essencials. Where I come from (both as an Explorer AND a volunteer) we learn than anything done WITHOUT orders from or approved by command is freelancing. What I also learned about it was that it could potentially get someone injured or worse, killed. I say, prevent LODD's and don't freelance.

    Chief R.J. Stine
    XFD Explorer Post #29
    The Yellow Knights

    [This message has been edited by engine1321 (edited 04-12-2001).]

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Originally posted by engine1321:
    ...we learn that anything done WITHOUT orders from or approved by command is freelancing.

    You said it almost perfectly, Engine1321... I will add that where I am, certain tasks are expected to be performed without orders or approval, but those are carried out by personnel who understand the effects of what they are doing and how those completing tasks may affect others. Anything done, however, IS communicated to command at the time it is completed. If a task may produce questionable results, it is not done unless approved or ordered by the Incident Commander. Things differ from area to area, I suppose, but most fireground activities should be approved by your superioirs before you attempt them. Stay safe, all...

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Good question oz10engine .... "Atta-Boy!" but seriously speaking; it's my opinion that in this day and age every fire department, every battalion, every company, every squad, every officer, and every individual firefighter MUST have: 1) a complete working knowledge of their SOPs, and 2) basic fundamentally safe and sound firefighting skills. Those two factors with training, practice, experience, and lots and lots of critiquing will eliminate any possible freelancing problems. If something needs to be done; well, you better do it!! Wait until ordered? Where does it say that you don't do anything until ordered? If you don't know what to do, how to do it, when to do it, or why you're doing it - you best go home, and quick or go for the coffee. Where does it say that firefighters aren't suppossed to think and act? Where does it say that officers - especially command - have to micro manage? Something needs to be done - do it! Don't wish later on that you had.

  15. #15
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Looks like you started some great convo with this one Oz, but I guess that's the whole purpose right? You picked a wide variety of examples and as has been pointed out a lot depends on the situation. Many of us now have department written SOPs, SOGs or what ever we have chosen to call them. One purpose of these writings is to allow you as a firefighter to act on the fireground,at times, with out current direct orders. You already have your standing orders in these established polices, procedures and guidelines. You department needs to make sure that they train you based on these procedures if they want to avoid freelancing. We all show up on the fireground intending to do what is right and assist those in need. But if no one tells you how they want you to do that can they really say you freelanced? Every Chief knows that it is impossible to issue an order for EVERY action taken on the fireground. But if we prepare and train you well enough in advance, we can stand back and give you an "At a Boy" for doing your job well.

    I shall fear no evil, for I am a Firefighter

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I respect but firmly disagree with some of the opinions that have been expressed here, especially in regards to having 'command' give all the orders. ICS - Incident Command Systems should be employed by all fire departments at every incident irregardless of the nature of the call. None of the examples given by oz10engine should be the commanding officer's decision, and most of the examples are 'automatic' and performed by well trained firefighters following the policies and procedures in their SOPs.

    While preplans, SOPs, training, critiques, and etc all weigh heavily in the elimination of freelancing, it's a good ICS that keeps everything together and running smooth - making the job easier AND safer!

  17. #17
    dr inferno
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Theres no point in having a commanding officer if everyone does what they want!! Part of command is sizing up the incident and forming a strategy to achieve a positive result, so if everyone does what they want there is no co-ordination of efforts and chaos runs the occurrence. So in answer to the question most of the examples given are FREELANCING. Sure you have some givens but what if you realize you need to pull a line for a structure fire so you go ahead and tear a one and a half off the engine and the commanding officer in their size up has determined that a two and a half are required and the attack will be defensive or that the engine needs to be relocated do to concerns uncovered in an effective size up now what do you do with the hose that is in a heap next to the rig? Do as Commanded things will work a lot smoother!!

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Excellent Question...

    In my dept, freelancing is doing anything you're not told to do, or doing something that isn't in the SOGs.

    Our SOGs say that for a structure fire, a hydrant will be tied. Thus, without telling you too, my IC expects that the 1st or 2nd Engine in is catching a hydrant on the way in. He expects to have a water supply set up. He expects everyone to be bunkered out and with air packs on.

    Now who gets on the line, is up to the IC or Officer. But NO ONE breaks anything with out command. If you are told to do something you do it. You don't pass it along or go off and decide what you think is more interesting to do.

    Being a volunteer department in a small town, granted, it's much easier to keep a closer look at what everyone is doing. But freelancing can still be a big problem. That's where knowing your SOG's is a must.

    Lines don't get pulled off unless an Officer or IC asks for it. You don't ventilate until IC or an Officer asks for it.

    I'm not sure how different this is when you are a larger dept.

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Geez .... freelancing? I thought those days were over .... long gone .... went the way of the charcoal canister masks and 'monkey see - monkey do' training. I honestly hope and pray that freelancing isn't a real problem anywhere.

    As we firefighters of today write our own chapter in the history of firefighting we should be proud to have; established SOPs, the highest levels of training, preplans, critiques, RIT, 2in/2out, TICs, LDH, cutting edge technology, and ICS to make our job easier and safer. Freelancing should have ended several chapters ago.

    My take on all this is very simple; as long as you're operating within your SOPs (the tried and true policies and procedures of your Fire Department) you can't possibly be freelancing.

    If you are so undisciplined that can't work within those SOPs - or worse yet, if you can't think and act without command telling you everything - it's time to look elsewhere.

  20. #20
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hey guys,thanks for the interesting comments.Most of you responded just like I would.SO HERE'S WHAT I DID. I took comments from the first 15 posts,put them together and this is what i came up with. Their is a difference between freelancing and doing your job w/o being told to. Most of the items I brought up,the feeling was your doing your job as long as it's covered some where in the SOP's and you know what you're doing,why you're doing it,and how to do it w/o having a possible detrimental impact on the operation.If it's something that requires multi-unit coordination the officer/IC needs to make the call. Freelancing IS being ordered to do one thing,but you do something else. Or you'll be called a freelancer if you do something w/o being ordered because it needed to get done, and it goes wrong. The fire scene is organized chaos and certain tasks need to be performed w/o permission, and alot of these are common sense things. FF's have to think and act quickly to get things done that sometimes are not "specifically" in the SOP's w/o being ordered,like pulling attack lines,throwing ladders,using the hoseline for ventilation after knockdown,and cutting off utilities(common sense). These things should be done automatically and/or simultaneously espically with a crew that works together on a regular basis and knows what each other is doing. Every chief needs to know it's impossible to issue every order on a fire and don't micromanage. If you don't let your ff's do anything w/o an order, you are promoting non-thinking ff's. And that's dangerous. I HOPE THIS KINDA SUMS IT UP. STAY TUNED FOR SOME TYPE OF SCENERIO ON THIS TOPIC, LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU.

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