SOP's, SOG's, or GOG's
For many years the fire service pushed chiefs and management to develop standard operating procedures (SOP's)
Lately I have been running across departments that use Suggested Operating Guidelines (SOG) or General Operating Guidlelines (GOG)
I have asked why the name change. Answers I have received included:
SOG's or GOG's allow the officer more latitude in making fire ground decisions.
Less liability to the FD if an officer does not follow the 'suggestion'
Or, the one that almost made me choke, The towns lawyer said we have to do this.
My understanding of standard operating procedures is that they remove some of the basic decisions from the officer i.e. 2nd due makes the water supply, any attack line is backed up by a line of equal or greater size, etc. and allow him to concentrate on the particulars of the incident.
When I was first promoted to Lt, my chief said "Follow the SOP's. If you don't, be prepared to justify why." He understood that sometimes SOP's can't cover every situation and he relyed on the officers to make decisions to fit the situation.
If departments do not want to have SOP's, why write down any procedures? Of course, this creates the problem that SOP's are supposed to solve of each shift or company doing it's own thing.
It would seem that a chief would want tasks carried out in a standard manner rather than suggested. What would you rather have:
1) Whenever a ground or aerial ladder is used by personnel for roof access, a second ladder will be provided for emergency egress.
2)Whenever a ground or aerial ladder is used by personnel for roof access, it is suggested that a second latter be provided for emergency egress.
If I am on the roof, I'd really like to know that a 2nd ladder will be there rather then hope someone takes the suggestion or I have to call for it.
The downside of SOP's of course, is that they can have the effect of micro managing an incident that has not yet occured. SOP's that are written and never reviewed are doomed to failure.
Am I missing something with SOG's or GOG's?
[This message has been edited by KenNFD (edited March 29, 1999).]
I realize this response may not be timely but the terms SOP, SOG or whatever are local issues. If the advice of your attorney is not followed where will he be when you need him/her. Don't choke, more departments get into trouble without written policy and procedure, rules and regulations than those with them. You and your fellow department members should be the ones writing policy and procedures along with rules and regulations. You will be surprised how much stricter you will be.
We call our's Department Operating Guidelines, Policies and Procedures. Ah...oh....this gives us the acronym of DOGPP. One member asked if they would be printed in red ink! If you don't get it.....I'm so sorry!
Theres a great article on Writing SOG/SOP/GOG/DOGPP's in the August 1999 issues of Fire Engineering. VFIS has a course on this that I can teach and I present programs on this topic "around the world" I will be in West Virginia next weekend doing the program.
Written policy and procedures are needed today. Work towards them as a group. It can't be done by one.
Ted J. Pagels, Fire Chief, Menominee, MI 49858