Thread: FIRST DUE OFFICER'S ROLE?
04-01-2001, 12:30 AM #1R.G. SMITHFirehouse.com Guest
FIRST DUE OFFICER'S ROLE?
BROTHERS AND SISTERS I NEED YOUR HELP IN SETTLING AN ONGOING DEBATE AT OUR FIREHOUSE....
WE ARE A SMALL CITY DEPARTMENT RUNNING ABOUT 2500 CALLS OUT OF ONE STATION. WE HAVE 7 MAN SHIFTS BUT MINMUM MANNING OF 5. ON REPORTED FIRES WE RUN A 4 MAN ENGINE AND 2 OR 3 MAN TRUCK (OUR UNION IS FIGHTING THIS, BUT YOU ALL KNOW RESULTS ARE SLOW) IF WE ONLY HAVE A 5 MAN SHIFT WE HAVE A 5 MAN ENGINE AND NO TRUCK UNTIL OFF-DUTY GUYS COME IN. HERE IS THE QUESTION: SOME OF OUR GUYS FEEL THAT THE FIRST DUE ENGINE OFFICER SHOULD GET OFF OF THE ENGINE AND ESTABLISH COMMAND IN THE YARD, I FEEL THAT THE OFFICER IS, AT LEAST INITIALLY, A "LINE OFFICER" FIRST AND HE HAS TO HELP HIS COMPANY ESTABLISH THE BASIC FUNCTION OF THE FIRST DUE ENGINE- GET WATER ON THE FIRE. I AM A HUGE PROPONENT OF THE ICS BUT I AM ALSO A REALIST WE DON'T HAVE A BATTALION CHIEF TO FILL THE COMMAND ROLE SO I REALIZE THAT THE FIRST DUE OFFICER WILL EVENTUALLY FILL THAT ROLE BUT I ALSO FEEL THAT DEPRIVING THAT FIRST DUE ENGINE OF ITS FOURTH MEMBER AND ITS OFFICER INSIDE IS ALSO A STEP BACKWARDS. THE ONLY OTHER COMPANIES WE GET ON A FIRST ALARM IS AN ENGINE FROM OUR NEIGHBORING CITY.
HELP ME OUT
04-01-2001, 11:24 AM #2RSQLT43Firehouse.com Guest
In my area, a five man engine co. is the minimum needed to start an interior operation.
With the two in two out rule, your crew of two starts interior ops. while the oic and the third firefighter remain outside, providing incident command, and ventilation.
I believe the first engine officer needs to set up command, when the next engine gets to the scene, command can be passed to that officer, and then the first officer will then join his crew for interior ops.
I like having a set of experienced eyes on the exterior of the building, to monitor conditions and any change that could become hazardous, I believe the pump operator has more than enough to do without becoming the oic, and safety officer on top of his other duties.
04-01-2001, 03:04 PM #3FREDFirehouse.com Guest
This is an excellent question. I think it would depend on the type of structure and the degree of involvement.
I think some guidence Chief Dunn would be helpfull for you.
As stated in "Fire Comand and Control" online www.firecomandandcontrol.com
in the Nov/Dec 2000 issue.
- the inside size-up should be made by the company officer.
- the outside size-up is done by the Fireground comander.
The problem you present is that you have no Chief that shows up on fires.
He writes further:
-During the intial stages the inside size-up is more accurate and usefull.
-He mentions that what if the fire is at the rear of the structure? How can you get an effective size-up.
I think that it is a good point, if you are at a single family structure with a fire in a rear bedroom what will you be able to see? Virtually nothing. You will need the information on what are the fire and smoke conditions are inside, you need to know what the guys inside are seeing and feeling.
If you are the officer in charge and ultimately responsible for the safety of your men how can you say with any confidence that they are indeed "safe". The firemen on the line might not have the experience and observation skills that a senior officer would have to determine what is important and what is not in terms of the interior conditions. Not to forget that the firemen on the knob usually have tunnel vision and since looking for the fire are not always aware of other conditions around them. (I know I'm guilty)
That being said, there are exceptions such as a large multi-story building where fire might pass from lower floors to floors above via the exterior of the building...this would then indicate that an exterior size-up and comand would be more effective.
Overall I get the feeling you guys are not happy with the staffing levels. If I understand you corectly you only get 1 officer and as much as 8 men (which is way beyond an effective span of control) I don't know whether being inside or out would be more effective but I think that reading some of what Chief Dunn has written will help guide you in your decision.
Hope that helps.
two cents from a fireman.
[This message has been edited by FRED (edited 04-01-2001).]
04-01-2001, 03:30 PM #4Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
I think Fred's "It Depends" is a big part of the answer.
Most fires the single most important action is getting a line in action to cut off the spread of fire into "areas of egress" (i.e. the hall or stairs).
I don't know what your SOPs are, here's a thought of mine on the deployment:
Officer, 2 Hosemen advance line. Officer can conduct an interior size up and help get the line working.
While Officer is inside, the Pump Operator effectively is the Incident Commander.
The Hydrant man conducts an exterior walk around. If he sees anything bad, he can communicate to the Pump Op.
Hopefully the Officer is back out about the time the Hydrant man completes a walk around and can give the Officer a quick report and receive his next assignment.
Officer now knows a lot about the inside conditions, a better size-up about the outside.
Personally, I think the initial officer should have the flexibility of "passing command" to the next due officer -- but if you don't have another officer coming or there is a long ETA, you may have to break away once the line is stretched and establish a formal command presence.
04-01-2001, 03:32 PM #5Firekatz04Firehouse.com Guest
RG... got to disagree with you. It is usually what we don't see that gets us hurt. First due officer SHOULD (imho) establish command and do a 360. Yes, you'd like to help get that line in service and I understand that. Realistically, 2 guys should be able to do it. Let's see, Driver, Officer, and 3 guys... should be no problem. Hopefully they got enough experience and training at the academy that you should NOT have to BABYSIT them. OOPS, MY bad, I'm assuming that they do know their stuff and they have SCBA, tools, radio, etc. Do they? Hopefully, yes!
Ok, while they are pulling the line and getting it to the front door you've done your 360 and found (let's make it interesting), heavy fire blowing out the 1st floor kitchen window on side C, heavy black smoke pushing and sucking back in on the 2nd, with a person hanging out another window on the second. Also on bldg. exterior on side C by the kitchen window is 2 100 lb. LP tanks. Now, what did you lose by establishing command? What did you gain?
04-02-2001, 09:49 PM #6Hammerhead338Firehouse.com Guest
First I wish we had a 5 man engine, but we don't. We run a 3 or 4 man engine and ladder, if we are a 4 man crew he will establish Command and work from the outside. If we are a 3 man crew he will give a initial report and go inside with the attack line, and the next in engine will take command.
Have a good day and be safe
04-03-2001, 02:47 PM #7FFTrainerFirehouse.com Guest
I would definitely have to say that first arriving officer needs to begin establishing command. Without starting command, completing a size-up, etc, each unit coming in is coming in to an unknown as if they were first.
Obviously I will have to put the disclaimer of each situation will be different so there is no blanket statement to answer the question, but I really think you need to get command going so you can direct your next engine to get water, your truck to ladder side B, etc.
04-03-2001, 03:38 PM #8chiefjay4Firehouse.com Guest
Command for sure. I may be a little confused, but are you having trouble streching a line with a five man crew? One man is the IC, one the pump oper, three to stretch the line. Seems like there is no question what the officer should do. If it were a three man crew I would understand the question better
04-03-2001, 06:39 PM #9LadderCappFirehouse.com Guest
It's completely situation dependent. That first in Company Officer should at least do a 360 and get a feel for construction, involvement, and specific hazards. But he/she needs to make the determination whether or not his/her 2 hands and expertise would be better served inside with the crew, or outside in a command role.
04-03-2001, 06:48 PM #10par/fire/1627Firehouse.com Guest
I feel for your situation. We run a similar situation. We have a 12man crew, sounds like alot but not the way we have it structured. 2 engine companies three men each. 1 truck company 2 men. 2 ambulances 2men each. one ambulance is 2in/out. The captain on the truck takes command. This leaves the engineer and two firefighters for truck operations, provided that the ambulances are not on runs. This would not be a bad situation to start with, however this is all we get. We do not have a recall policy or any other stations. We call mutual aid but it is usually 10-20minutes before they are of any benefit, by that time the fire is either out or out-of-control. In your situation I think your first in officer should be commmand. If the fire scene goes down the toilet very quickly then you need that outside command to call for help and make some quick decesions. Those decesions simply cannot be made from inside fighting fire.
04-04-2001, 08:05 PM #1115hosemanFirehouse.com Guest
On 95.8% of working fires his job is to back the lineman up as they take an 1.5" hose through the front door.
2 in 2 out really requires 5 men, one has to run the pumps. What's going on inside is much more important than what's going on outside.
SOPs handle first alarm operating assignments.
2 out should do OV & Rescue. (after obtaining sustained water)
I don't know where New Philly is, but OH is a fairly populous state, do you have an automatic aid policy or is it too much to bear the thought than another department might actually help you not die?
04-05-2001, 10:05 PM #12HallwaySledgeFirehouse.com Guest
I hate to repeat what everybody else has said but I agree that this issue is a situation by situation type call. My department sounds much like yours except that we run a 3 man Engine and 2 on the Ambulance first-out, supplemented by off- duty and POC's when they get there.I know speaking for my shift and my officer he will make the call when he gets there. He trusts myslef and another blueshirt to be crew leaders first-in while he stays outside and begins IC. Some of the target hazards in our district and some very large or high-rise buildings everybody goes in (except the engineer, of course). For your particular situation I would ask if your department gives the first-in officer any direction as far as SOP's or guidelines? Does the department say that he must initiate IC outside, begin IC from the inside while on the attack or give no direction at all? While you can't write an SOP that is absolute for every situation perhaps you could come up with one that is flexible enough to cover your area.
The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect those of my Department or it's Administration.
04-06-2001, 02:21 PM #13NKFFirehouse.com Guest
I feel that in all working fire calls Command must be the officers first priority. You can not run a call and also do another job, pull a line, operate the pump. The outcome of a fire depends on the first 15 minutes of the call. Once it goes bad it is very hard to fix. Size up, Accountability, mutual aid, sectors, water supply, rehab, ems, setting up truck and rescue operations must all be done in a very short time. If you do not have the manpower or don't have faith in your firefighters to go into a burning structure by themselves then train them. You are making an officer play the roll of firefighter and not do his/her own very important job. The safety of your firefighters depends on a controled scene which is the responsibility of command not the guy at the pump or on the first line!
04-09-2001, 12:07 AM #14R.G. SMITHFirehouse.com Guest
THANKS TO EVERYONE FOR THE EXCELLENT REPLIES.....TO 15HOSEMAN IN D.C., NEW PHILLY IS NOT IN A POPULATED COUNTY. OUR NEAREST MUTUAL AID IS 8-10 MILES AWAY. I HOPE THAT I TOOK YOUR REMARKS WRONG BUT I RESENT THE ASSUMPTION THAT WE WOULD COMPROMISE OUR FIREFIGHTER'S SAFETY BECAUSE WE SIMPLY DIDN'T WANT TO CALL A CERTAIN DEPARTMENT. WE HAVE AN EXCELLENT RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR NEIGHBORING DEPARTMENTS BUT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT THE INITIAL TEN MINUTES OF A FIRE. BY TIME THEIR FIREFIGHTERS LEAVE THEIR JOBS, GET TO THEIR STATIONS AND DRIVE THE 10 MILES TO OUR SCENE....WELL, YOU DO THE MATH. THEY ARE EXCELLENT, WELL TRAINED DEPARTMENTS WHO WE RUN WITH FREQUENTLY.
THANKS AGAIN TO ALL WHO REPLIED, IT HAS MADE FOR INTERESTING CONVERSATION AT THE STATION.
04-21-2001, 09:05 PM #15jpchevFirehouse.com Guest
IMHO ( in my humble opinion) the Officer of the 1st in company must take Command and one of his 1st tasks is to do a 360 of the building. The problem you see at the front door may not be the most serious, you could have life rescue needed at the rear which will require all your resouces and you may end up not even starting fire attack right away. Of course each scene is a little differant. Stay safe! John C Capt. HJFD
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