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  1. #1
    GeorgeHTH30 Guest

    Default Firefighter Accountabilty

    Our Dept. currently uses laminated paper type accountability tags which wear out in time. We are wanting to change to the metal type such as the military ID TAGS. Does anyone have information on this type of tags
    or even any vendor addresses?
    Please email me with info at
    Thanks George Leighlitner
    Safety Officer
    Hilltop Hose CO. #3

  2. #2
    percell holland jr Guest


    We currently use brass tags on a snap ring. The tags are app 1" - 1 1/2" across. We take them to our local jewelry store and have the names engraved on them as well as the dept. name. Each firefighter keeps one on their helmet and one on their coat. When the firefighter gets on scene they place the ring that is on their coat on the turn signal stick on the first engine to arrive. It works well for us and has minimal cost to the dept. These brass tags are available at most hardware stores. The store we use is Ace Hardware. These brass tags are designed for pet owners to place their name on them and hang on a dog collar. Don't laugh, its practical.

  3. #3
    502 is offline
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Jan 1999
    Chemung,NY USA


    In response to Mr. Holland, My department uses the same tags. Cheap yet effective...

  4. #4
    Medic019 Guest


    Our Department is currently beginning to setup a Personnel Accountability System. We are current utilizing Plastic Numbered Tags w/Snap rings (which seem ok so far). What I am looking for is a Accountability SOP & Paperwork for the Accountability Officer to utilize at scenes. Any info or help will be appreciated..Email me at if anyone can help me...Thank you


  5. #5
    Spfd32 Guest


    Our department uses the plastic tags. Two colors blue & red. The tags are ingraved with the members name. Each truck has a ring for the tags to be placed. After truck arrives the ring with tags are delivered to the command post. Each officer also has a ring to collect tags. The blue tags are scene tags and the red are interior tags. If a member is not interior qualified they have two blue tags. Red tags are collected by the door man prior to entry in the structure. If you want I'll get the name of the company, they also sell the accountability boards.

  6. #6
    Andy Henne Guest


    Hi there,
    We use the laminated-type accountability tags as well. On the tags we have each members photo, certifications, as well as medical info such as allergies/drugs, resting pulse/BP, etc. The medical part helps us with baseline vitals during Haz Mat responses. The certifications help officers to know the level of training crew members have when they arrive on scene and report to command. Each tag also has a number, the accountability number, which is reported over the air when the firefighter enters or exits the building.

    Each firefighter/officer has two identical tags. As soon as each member reports to his/her vehicle after roll call, one tag is clipped to a key ring in the apparatus. The ring is in the same place on each truck. The second tag remains with the firefighter and is attached to the Tally PASS key that activates the PASS unit. Before entering the structure, or scene, the key is removed (w/tag attached), activating the PASS, and is thrown into a small bucket near the entry point. This serves a dual purpose in that the PASS units are ALL turned on, and later the accountability/safety officer can come to the bucket and gather the rings to account for teams in the building. This same officer goes to each piece of apparatus, gathers the tags hanging there, and returns them to the accountability board near the operations chief, or command post, to properly track each crew member on scene.

    A further note: our accountability tags are part of a county-wide color coding system. That is, each mutual aid department has their own color. For example, our tags are red, the Great Falls city FD has green tags, the Montana ANG has blue tags, and so on. This makes it easy for officers to tell, by glancing at a colored tag, which FD the member belongs to.

    Our system is fairly simple, and we use it on ALL exercises, and ALL responses. It has now become second-nature for us to use. The bucket seems rather archaic, but it is simple, which prevents at least one place for error.

    I hope this helps a bit in which system to use. For such an inexpensive and seemingly trivial piece of paper, the accountability tag has the potential to be the most important piece of equipment in use on the fireground.

    But perhaps the most important aspect of whatever system you use, is that it must be used. Accountability is paramount. Without accountability, and IC control over this portion of the operation, you have nothing but chaos, and firefighters running around sporatically with no one to watch out for their welfare.

    Brothers and sisters- be safe out there...

    Malmstrom Fire/Rescue

    [This message has been edited by Andy Henne (edited 02-14-99).]

  7. #7
    ka Guest


    >>>when they arrive on scene and report to command.<<<

    Expects a lot from every mermber, it's gotta fail.

    >>>the accountability/safety officer can come to the bucket and gather the rings to account for teams in the building. This same officer goes to each piece of apparatus, gathers the tags hanging there, and returns them to the accountability board near the operations chief, or command post, to properly track each crew member on scene.<<<

    Early on you don't have all these people do you? An early collapse and who knows who is onscene.

    >>>Accountability is paramount. Without accountability, and IC control over this portion of the operation, you have nothing but chaos, and firefighters running around sporatically with no one to watch out for their welfare. <<<<

    So i have a cow tag on become disabled,unless someone hears my alarm i'm not found? A wall falls on the bucket at the front door you don't even know who is onscene? So we run around to 20 trucks and get all the tags then figure out who is missing? How long does that take and how long can you hold your breath? One person or crew doesn't do it, it isn't accountability. It doesn't sound like accountability. Still sounds like chaos. Firefighters lives deserve more than cow tags.

  8. #8
    Phred Guest


    KA: Let's hear how your dept's system works.

  9. #9
    falchurcfd Guest


    Ours is pretty simple, Saturday we had a ground floor fire in an apartment building trapping people in the two apartments above with fire and heavy smoke.

    The chief and duty officer arrived first and established command, An engine with one on board arrived, then a pov, a truck with 8, a pov, an engine with 10 a pov, another pov, a truck with 10 and finally another pov.

    We don't use tags. Our system uses radio pass with computer logging.

    Each time a fire truck arrived the computer lists the vehicle by name truck 3, engine 7, duty officer, etc. It also lists the name and rank of everyone on the crew. It indicates if their pass is on, if they have checked in, if they are out of range all automatcally without asking anyone to gather tags or crews to place tags.

    All pov'ers are logged when they arrive as well. Command gives assignments by name and task. If someone goes into alarm command knows the very second because a 8 inch gong and strobe activate on the vehicle and the command reciever indicates the name of the person in alarm. It doesn't matter if it is the hydrant man haing a heart attack 100 feet away or someone inside. All members have portable radios and command first calls, if no contact in goes a ric team with imager to find them based upon their last functional assignment. What is more you don't have to wait to be notified something happened, react after a wall falls or roof collapses or come to the realization someone is missing. You know the very instant.

    <a href=""> This web site Shows and explains the system with pictures pretty well.

    <A HREF="tpass1.jpg"><

    [This message has been edited by falchurcfd (edited 02-15-99).]

  10. #10
    Andy Henne Guest


    I thought this was a free sharing of ideas and information for everyone.I didn't know my posting would be hacked to bits.

    Our system works for us. Let me repeat. Our system works for us.

    >>Expects a lot from every member, it's gotta fail.<<

    It doesn't "gotta fail." Each apparatus' crew chief reports to command, as they should, and this is where accountability starts for the IC. It only fails if we don't report to the on scene IC.

    As you well know, each scene dictates where the bucket goes. I believe I said near the point of entry. If there is imminent danger of collapse, our guys won't be going in to begin with.

    Initially, the operations chief will be responsible for accountability. If the incident is involved enough, he has several other chief officers at his disposal to recall. Response time is very quick. If for some reason these folks aren't readily available, then other personnel can be tasked. Everyone down to our newest firefighter is trained to run the accountability board.

    "Cow tag" sounds like you're making a mockery of the system the majority of FD's use to account for their people. If a fall or collapse takes out a firefighter, the most sophisticated accountability system isn't going to tell you where he or she is. It will merely tell you they are in trouble. The RIT team will still have the tough job of going in and rescuing that member. Which means they will still be listening for the PASS alarm, and using good search procedures to find their buddies.

    I wrote my initial response merely to point out how OUR DEPT. uses the system and accounts for its people. I would never expect a major city department to use it, although they might use a similar system. Our tags are simple, inexpensive, and, over time, they have worked very well for us.

    I, like Phred, would very much like to know what system KA's department uses. Maybe I could learn from that dept.'s methods.

    To falchurcfd: we use the Grace Industries Tally PASS units. They are the same as your units, except our units don't transmit a signal. We looked at the Grace computer, but were able to "fool" the mother unit into losing contact with the PASS units in the building. The sales rep was not happy when this happened. We used a hardened concrete structure with multiple floor and complex arrangement for our test. A hard building, I know, but the rep let us go for it, and we wanted the worst conditions. We haven't ruled out the system, because it worked well in the other buildings we tested it in. We just went with the lower cost alternative for now. The computer was very expensive, even for a military dept. We can upgrade to the computer system later, using our current PASS units. Have you had similar problems? I hear good and bad.


  11. #11
    ccc530 Guest


    Thank God that we have ANY accountability system. When I first started, over 30 years ago, freelancing was common and so were the deaths. I really don't think that the method matters as much as whether or not you use ANY system at all. In my current department, we make our own tags out of the plastic tags you would use to lable a trophy or a display. We engrave the firefighter's name on it and issue 3 tags. The back side of the tag has velcro. Most firefighters carry one tag attached to thier motorola minitor pager, one on thier gear (helmet, coat or now; thier aitr mask bag). The drivers may have thiers' attached somewhere in the engine. Each apparatus has 2 "passports" which are larger white plastic with velcro on the front and back; 1 for the front, 1 for the crew area. Each chief officer has a large plastic board with velcro, which also allows for writing on it with a dry erase marker. This is how it works: When the FF's get on the apparatus, they place thier tag on the passport. At the scene, the passports are delivered to "incident command" or "manpower" or "accountabilty" officer, depending upon the size of the incident. That officer "assigns" each tag to the task on the large accountability board, moving the tags around the board like pieces on a chess board, as the FF goes from "attack group" to "rehab" to "manpower" to the next task. We found this to be very effective and very inexpensive. It works for ALL calls, not only for those that you would use a pass device on. It allows the manpower to be managed well by allowing a "picture" of who is where, doing what. KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid!

  12. #12
    ka Guest


    I like the concept of 100% accountability like the picture on the board of the computer. Certainly firefighters are worth at least that much. Most systems require collecting tags, firefighters remembering to drop their tags or conducting a PAR every 10 minutes or ST Louis every 20 minute MARC. SOunds great, but can you hold your breath that long. The system above knows every 25 seconds if you are ok, even if you don't turn your pass on it works. Conecting pass and accountability in one makes too much sense. 50% of all FF deaths are heart attacks. If you don't know someone is down it is pretty hard to save them. What good is a late ric team? I'd say most of the tag and velcro systems are marginally effective. Constant real time monitoring is the only answer. It is on the market.

  13. #13
    Andy Henne Guest


    Hi all,

    The Grace computer is a great way to account for our firefighters. I spoke with a Grace representative yesterday and determined that for our department, utilizing 50 high power PASS unit transmitters, it will cost us very close to $48000.00 to purchase the system. I am hoping that with end of year fall-out funds (those familiar with the gov't system understand EOY fall- out funds), I can purchase that system for our dept.

    However, as a former Captain with a rural volunteer FD, I would not expect this small dept. to put forth the funds to purchase this system. That would chew up their entire yearly budget of $25,000.00 for two concurrent years!! They simply cannot afford it. They have to place their money in other places such as vehicle maintenance, equipment purchases (bunkers, axes, hose, etc.) Granted they don't need 50 transmitters, but the mother computer (suitcase) alone is about $18000.00.

    By no means am I criticizing the Grace price. I am merely pointing out that many dept's just can't afford this type of system, my dept. included. I have had to plan to purchase the system, and maybe this year, the command will authorize us to buy it.

    So, until we have the computer accountability system on board,we will continue to use the tag system we have. With proper training, and dept. commitment to the system, it has not proven "marginally effective," but, very effective.

    Our firefighters are worth every penny we put into them, their equipment, and their supplies. But, bottom line is, money talks, and we must do the best we can within the constraints of our particular budgets. If money were not an issue, every dept., paid and otherwise, would be riding around in brand new $300,000.00 structural engines and issuing $1500.00 sets of bunker gear to every firefighter. But reality is always the insidious player in our operations, and we manage the best we can.

    If a fireground operation is being managed properly, no one should be alone. If someone goes down, their PASS should activate, and their team members, who are in radio or direct contact, will drop everything to rescue them. We follow the 2 in-2 out policy set forth by NFPA Standards. Air Force Fire Protection mandates that we adopt NFPA Standards, so here we are. It is hard on our manning, and we struggle with it, but bottom line is, we never leave anyone alone in the fire building. No system is perfect, but we train with ours and it works very well. When we come "on-line" with the TALLY system, hopefully our accountability procedures will improve as well.

    Coincidentally, the Grace rep I spoke with mentioned Falls Church FD (correct title?) as one of its customers. I mentioned that you guys had a posting with a picture and all. She said she would check it out. Good job...

    To ccc530, I agree completely. ANY accountability system is better than nothing. Bottom line is to protect our firefighters so they can continue to carry on our fight with fire.

    Everybody be safe...


  14. #14
    ka Guest


    << I spoke with mentioned Falls Church FD (correct title?) as one of its customers. >

    It was Fallon/Churchill not Falls Church.

  15. #15
    ka Guest


    << I spoke with mentioned Falls Church FD (correct title?) as one of its customers. >

    It was Fallon/Churchill not Falls Church.

  16. #16
    Aff Guest


    Being a vol. dept. the K.I.S.S therory is very effective. Our system consists of each member having 2 plastic tags with our name and station #. They are about 1/4 by 2' with a velcro back. Enroute to a call these tags are place on the "Accountability Board" which is made up of 2 parts. The main board stays on the apperatus and the second board, called a "passport' goes to command. Each part has the apperatus number on it. At command, the IC can mix and match crews to meet the situation and still maintian accountability. Also with the board still in the truck, the officer won,t forget anyone. We also do a PAR check every 20 minutes to ensure personal safety. This is initiated by dispatch and completed by IC.

  17. #17


    You may want to get an informations package from Geauga Decal Company @ 800-452-9010. They have a complete system which includes a SOG. We've been using the system for over a year now without any problems. System is user friendly, keep in mind, if it isn't easy to use, it will be overlooked or just become a major PA to keep up with. And we know if the system isn't being used why have it.

  18. #18
    ccc530 Guest


    Andy, you really hit it. NOBODY should be alone in ANY situation. Teamwork only. No "Lone Rangers"! In a perfect world we would all have the best.

  19. #19
    ka Guest


    I was just thumbing through the after action report of the latest mulitiple firefighter fatality fire in this country that came in as a shed fire. The locals use the passport and dog tag systems.

    Who cares about your RIT team ad 2 in 2 out. If you don't know who is there you'll be looking for a needle in a hay stack. If you don't know someone is down how ou gonna save them? Of course they had a 2 out and a RIT.

    The IC said and I quote, "I didn't know who was on scene. It was impossible to track everyone. There were too many different departments."

    I think the Grace system is the only responsible way to conduct real time acountability.

    Just looking at the screen is pretty easy!

    [This message has been edited by ka (edited May 05, 1999).]

  20. #20
    Dalmation90 Guest


    The IC said and I quote, "I didn't know who was on scene. It was impossible to track
    everyone. There were too many different departments."

    The Chief is responsible for the men on the scene, however it shouldn't be his job to track them. Neither is it the responsibility of the safety officers to track members -- there there to look for hazardous situations others missed or ignored.

    1st key is teamwork.
    2nd key is your working as team under your officer (say, a Lt.)
    3rd key is that Lt. is taking orders from his chief.
    4th key is that Chief is taking direction from the Chief-in-Charge.

    Building collapses in rear...Chief-in-Charge asks Chief of mutual aid "I assigned you to that sector -- whose in there?"
    Chief of mutual aid goes "hold on while I check with the Lieutenant"
    Lieutenant says "I and Joe are out...can't find Sam and Fred, and I assigned them to open ceilings in that area -- and points to part of the building.

    My own personal two rules: Never accept an assignment from an officer not in my department (i.e. someone who doesn't know my name), and never enter a hot-zone without making sure an officer or senior firefighter in my department knows where I'm going, with whom I'm going, and what we're going to do.


  21. #21
    ka Guest


    <<Building collapses in rear...Chief-in-Charge asks Chief of mutual aid "I assigned you to that sector -- whose in there?"
    Chief of mutual aid goes "hold on while I check with the Lieutenant"
    Lieutenant says "I and Joe are out...can't find Sam and Fred, and I assigned them to open ceilings in that area -- and points to part of the building>>

    And when you don't know who is on scene???? When you are mutual aid??? When you are mutual aid with 6 enities like this case? How long does this, "let me check" take? How long does it take to go rig to rig to gather tags or pass ports and conduct a head count? And when folks don't leave a tag or pass port? How long can they hold their breath.

    So if they don't know your name, won't right it down, you simply don't fight fire or save lives? That's kinda interesting, nakes friends fast I bet.

    Oh well, these velcro and tag systems are a good deal they don't cost much.

    One widow will be getting $393.91. At least the FD saved a few bucks.

    The other interesting quote was, "We could hear screams and shouting." Eventually they stopped. Kinda like up in the north west eventually the pass and air pack alarms stopped.

  22. #22
    ccc530 Guest


    Very good points all around. We are now in the process of changing over to a system that is uniform throughout the county. It is nice to think that we can have the choice of what task to do, but is that realistic? We use and will continue to use the system I outlined above. But Ka has made the best point of all: When SECONDS count, how do you KNOW for sure WHEN someone goes down and WHO? It would seem like the Grace system is the best...if you can find the money in your budget. (Another advantage of using volunteers. You can spend what money you do have on the best equipment..ouch!).

  23. #23
    ccc530 Guest


    How about using BOTH systems?

  24. #24
    gkgayjr Guest


    Hi everyone:

    No matter what type of system it needs to be used. Accountability is a must.

    I am from a large city paid department and I am not a Chief Officer; I don't pretend to know how a small and/or vol. F.D. runs with the mutual aids and such, but we are public servants and run the department based on the monies that the citizens allocate. It has to be used wisley.

    We use the plastic name tag with the velcro tape on the back. We have a apparatus board with all crew members' names on it. It is taken with us after our assingment and given to the proper Sector. (IC, Resource, Forward)
    We stay intact as a crew and work under a Sector Officer (any rank). Each sector has a alloted number of companies working under them. Small enough to keep up with. We have PASS devices. We work in twos'. If any one goes down for any reason a RIT reports to that sector and does what needs to be done. It is a dangerous job and with Murphy's Law something will happen. If some one is down, it doesn't matter the name, it matters that they are accounted for and assited in any fashion deamed necessary and in a timely manner. If the Incident Command System works, someone will know where and how many involved. A single two person crew or an entire sector. A heart attack or a building collapse.

    Use what ever system is allowed in your department and let the company reps. that preach one system, "dog tags" or computor chips, over another talk to Management and Citizenry of your community about the money issues. Use "a" system to protect our own. You want the best, but live within your means.

    As mentioned before in this forum, BE SAFE!!!

  25. #25


    Our department uses a simple cow tag that attaches to your helmet. When you enter the scene, you pass by the engine and give your tag to the pump operator. The pump operator will clip the tag to a board which he has in front of him.
    Granted, we only have two stations and 52 firefighters, but this system has never failed us, yet !
    The other systems listed are also great ideas.

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