1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question ICS Changes at Scene

    Real-life scenario:
    Has something like this happened to you?
    Volunteer fire department (with 3 engines & 1 truck) gets called out for working house fire about 0930 hrs on a weekday. Daytime turnout isn't too good so there's an automatic mutual aid agreement for two engines at any structure fire. The first person to arrive is a Battalion Chief
    who assumes command, reports a working fire, gives a quick description of the house, reports no one home, and verifies with the desk (police dept) that mutual aid was called. The first engine is told to hit a hydrant on the way in, to lay dual 2 and 1/2 inch lines, and to advance an 1 and 3/4 inch line up to second floor. Second engine is ordered to connect to the hydrant and to pump the dual supply lines laid by first engine. Truck is told to ladder the house, to vertically vent through the roof, and to get their thermal camera inside. Third engine automatically begins setting up FAST team, but 2 in 2 out, PPV, and a trip to the basement to shut services uses up their manpower, so the first due mutual aid engine does FAST. The Battalion Chief has already appointed a retired member who shows up at everything as the safety officer; accountability was established at the get go, (PASS, SCBA, etc also) and the basement crew used a life line. So far everything's gone REALLY well, because the Battalion Chief is giving excellent short crisp Marine Sgt. type orders to the operations officer, to staging, etc. He is really in control and the firefighters are in step with his pace, his tempo, and are feeding off his confidence and leadership. Now the problem:
    Fire Chief arrives and assumes command from the Battalion Chief. The problem's not one concerning personalities, or confidence in him, BUT is in his communication skill. The Battalion Chief sounded like a USMC drill Sgt. and his orders were crystal clear. The fire crews responded very well. In comparison, the new Chief taking over Command sounded like Elmer Fudd; his orders could be taken several ways, leaving room for error. All the crews, everyone, at the scene seemed to loose step with each other. (You see this happen in football games. The QB gets hurt. The backup QB comes in. Then someone jumps off sides on the first play). I can understand this Chief and others sometimes needing to take command from a junior officer when he's doing poorly; but if it ain't broke, why fix it? At the critique afterwards firefighters expressed (few openly, most privately) the same concern, with no resolution. Does this happen to you? How do you adjust when the change in command also changes the tempo, pace, speed, and feel that you and everyone else had?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hello,Our Dept has worked with other Depts on Incident Command, we usualy have Three other Dept Provide Mutual Aid, One from our County and Two from another County, Its agreed upon by All that the First Dept on assighns a Commander and all others report to that Person upon arrival, we have had mass confusion in Ref to Change of Command at Times, within our Dept we Have Five Officers the First Officer on Scene is in Charge until the Chief or Asst showes, if niether shows then its his or her Ball game and it works most of the Time, it is my opinion that Practice with all members Helps, Every Training Session a Officer is responsible for arrangeing the training for that night and is responsible for Activities that occur, this helps members see how this officer will operate and gives a general Knowledge Base to the F/F, As a Chief I never over ride a Officer in the presents of our Members I make suggestions based on Past Experiance, Judgements and Training, UNLESS it is Life Threatening or some thing similar, Another problem I have seen is a Officer arrives and TAKES control with out proper Exchange of info or meeting with the First Arriving officer as you said This Throws the whole Tempo out the Door, I belive it should not matter how a Order is Given, it should be the Content and Accuracy of the Order, Some Chiefs Scream and Shout, some talk normal and Calm, and yet the message is the same, If a Officer no matter how Jr is running with the Ball and Makeing Good Yardage Let them Run, as Officers our job is also to teach, and there is no better teacher than experiance, this will also help you in the Long run Just my Opinion

    Here today for a Safer Tomorrow

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Perhaps your chief should remember what I was taught as the golden rule. If you have nothing to offer in the way of making things work better than they already are, keep quiet and let things alone.

    However, if he insist on taking charge let him assume command but have the guy who was doing so well take care of operations. The ops officer has the responsibilty for the tactical operations. This may help providing the Chief knows anything about ICS.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    I have to agree with edfc. If the chief is going to create a SNAFU then he should follow ICS and take command over ops, safety, and water supply. Not try to micromanage everything.

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