1. #1
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Post Rural vol. departments and accountability

    For any of you who are involved with a rural volunteer fire department, you know that manpower is one of the most critical issues facing our volunteer departments. Our township has an accountability system, but we are having a difficult time instituting it at fires. Think about it, its noon during the week and you get a call for a house fire. You're crew could be one chief officer and 2 firefighters. You arrive and find a room and contents fire and your second due station is facing the same manpower shortage you are. While accountability is essential to a safe and effective fireground operation, where do you find that extra person to handle accountability? What I am looking for is advice and or examples of effective accountability programs that are used by rural volunteer fire departments. We have our ID tags, but we're looking for a way to put them to good use. Leave them on the truck maybe? Find a way to place them by the front door? Anyone that can help, I appreciate it.

    Eric Minnich, FF/EMT
    Neffs Vol. Fire Co.
    Neffs, PA

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm sure we are as rural as any community in the US with just 6 people per square mile. We use a Grace T-Pass system. It works perfectly. Just turn it on it does accountability automatically. If someone is in trouble it sounds an alarm on all the fire trucks. You go look at the box it tells you by name who is in trouble. What rig they arrived on, or if they came POV.

    See for more details:

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We also use a tag system. Stamped tags with quick release hooks on them attached to the ring hanger on the back of the helmets.

    For lack of a better word we use a BA Control board with addition for ICS. Basically a white board with tea cup hooks on it. Attached to this is a list of names as they cross reference to the numbers. On the board are squares, Rescue 1, 2, 3. Attack 1,2,3 the tags are hooked to the right square and the team proceeds to there area or sector. In larger actions Sector Commands are set up and Attack and Rescue Teams are assigned. Later, to the initial teams, addition resources can be allocated by "IC" eg. sector command 1 may have the rear of building with Rescue 1, Attack 1, EMS 1, Ventilation crew, and misc support people. Sector Command 2 may have the front and side exposures. Attack 2, 3, 4, staging, rehab.

    The Board can be designed so it can be expanded as needed. Tags are moved as a member moves. Times in and out are also noted. If tag 22 is Attack 1 at start. Time in is noted for BA Control. When 22 comes out tag is moved to rehab and noted. 21 comes from rehab to continue from 22's old post 21's time in is noted. And is logged out from rehab. Roving members, road blocks, lighting, running equip. are not noted as they have a staging area in a central area that they return to if waiting assignment.

    Sounds involved but actually works well. Esp if you are on a tight budget. 18 x 24 white board, Pin stripe to make the squares, Markers and Tea hooks and tags for each member is a cheap way of doing it.


  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    My dept uses tags with velcro on the back of them. we keep them on our helmets, when enroute to the scene, we put one our tags on the truck that we came with. the second tag goes to Command and then the third tag goes to the doorman. All of those that report in POVs they either take their tag to IC, if there is one established already or it goes on the truck that is at the scene.

    most depts in the county have this type of system so when mutual aid rols up they had over their tags to command. they have a small dry erase board with velcro on the back to put everyone's tags on.

    As far as getting it instituted. when you have a drill make sure that someone is in charge of taking people's tags. the more you practice with it, you will naturally do it at a scene.

    good luck with it, and be safe.

    Adam J. Dorn

    These are my opinions and not of any group or org. that i belong to.

  5. #5
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hey FaxmanEDM, I hear you! We have the same problem, for instance a factory press fire at 1pm, we respond with engine and pumper tanker and 5 personnel (captain, lieutenant, 3 firefighters) and NO plausible way to enact our accountability. We used to use nembered red Cow Tags w/ steel clips, clipped on the back of our helmets (but only a # and no name!). We recently ordered and have implemented the velcro w/ name plates and the velcro tactical board. We are really finding problems with sparing an individual (usually the safety officer) to take care of accountability. From my experience accountability will always plague understaffed depts on emergency runs, but I would be greatly interested in hearing any suggestions.

  6. #6
    Dr. Law
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We use the tags on a peg board by one of the three doors at our station. You put the tag on the line to indicate which truck you are getting on. Many times we tend to forget.
    However, the question I have is, doesn't the velcro tend to melt if you get too close to the fire (or when the upper air heat is a little intense) when doing interior attacks?

  7. #7
    Deputy Dog Dashwood
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We use the same system as Seatle fire/rescue

    3 name tags>2 whites and 1 red (ie D.Smith)velcro attached to the back.
    2 fire passes 1 white, 1 yellow they are about 2" wide and 4" long with velcro on the face along with the unit # on each one. These are on the dash of each unit

    Then each fire fighter has a velcro patch on their helmet for the helmet shield on the truck. Which states which unit they came with.
    When the fire fighter arrives at the hall they are assigned a position on the truck by an officer they take each one of the name tags and place them on the fire passes(1 on the white 1 on the yellow) Take a helmet shield and place it on their helmet(states witch unit ie E6-1)The officer name on top, driver's name upside down,then all the rest of the FF's on the truck below.

    when tne truck arrives on scene the officer of each truck will bring foward the white fire pass to IC , Ic will have a status board with velcro on it and now he can start accounting for the team. The yellow fire passes remain on the truck in case something happens to the first crew or tags you can go back to the truck and check it out as a back up.
    The status board is white plexy glass on you can write on it with a grease pencil to make notes on it. It has velcro on the face so you can affix name tags on it into the differnt crews. Each truck carries a status board on it with the unit number on it and fire dept name.

    The red name tag is for keeping track of who is on SCBA As soon as a fire fighter dons air they give the SCBA sector officer their red tag adn that officer has his own status board and now can record time in and expected time out bottle preasure adn team name (Ie att#1 or srch 1) as soon as the fire fighter is done on SCBA he/she will get their red tag back. At the end of the call we do a roll call or if there is a change in the fire scene(ie offenceive to deffencive building collapse etc.)Each fire fighter has extra name tags on thier locker 2 whites and a red.There is a little more to it but I hope you get the picture.
    It takes a bit to get use to but once its down pat it works realy well. You have to use it for everything to be able to be good at it Practice, fire calls(no mater the size) community functions etc. We have been using it for about 6 years, we have 8 other halls and when we go on a mutal aid call we are all on the same page.If you have any questions e-mail me please!! I realy like the system it is simple inexpensive on easy to addapt.

  8. #8
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Whooo Boy - nothing opens a can O worms these days like accountability issues.

    We're in the same boat you are as far as being a rural department with low day time staffing.

    Even worse - we have no accountability system (and that is a county wide problem - not just with us). I have been pushing to get a system going eve if it is just a "cow tag" system - at least it's a start.

    My suggestion to you is to find some of those big 6" "Jailers style" key rings and put one in each rig. - when you get on-scene - tags go on the ring & the ring goes on the pump console.

    With low manpower - sometimes members have to pull "Double Duty" - make your pump operator the inital acountability officer until enough man power gets on scene expand roles.

    (I am assuming that you always have a pump operator and the days of fighting fire with the truck on "Auto Pilot" are over)

    Granted these aren't ideal solutions, but sadly we don't live in an ideal world. If your department can spare the money (or if you can talk them into parting with it) - I think that the T-Pass system by Grace industries (Mentioned above by LHS*) is a great solution. Or as Ferris Beuler said - "If you have the means - I highly recomend picking one up"

    Hope this has been of some help
    Take Care - Stay Safe

  9. #9
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm in 2 different departments but we have similar systems.

    One uses the cow tags with personnel numbers on it, the other uses dog tags with a person's name, SSN and firefighter status.

    Either way when you get to a scene you put the tags on the ring attached to the truck.

    As personnel allows they are removed and put on an accountability board according to crew/assigned task.

    Susan Bednar
    Forsyth Rescue Squad (Captain)
    Griffith Volunteer FD

  10. #10
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Holds it on the helmet when not in use, holds to the truck door when is in use.

  11. #11
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We have accountability tags with our names on them which have velcro in the back. Each rig has a passport in it on the passport is the truck's number a place for operator, ff, capt. Each person puts their name tag by their position on the rig.If there is not a capt. on board the most senior member is the capt. There is also a master board on each rig on it is inside outside,extrication, patient etc. You give this passport along with the master board to the IC and he tells you what to do and puts your passport, where it's supposed to go on the master board.

  12. #12
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We use stamped metal accountability tags.

    They are turned into the pump operator of either the 1st due or second due (whichever they are riding on) Then the Chief A. Chief and Safety Officer can "account" for whoever is in or ON the fire scene.

    Seems to work pretty well.

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

  13. #13
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Being a Vol. Fire Chief of a small Town (pop.1300), of an all-volunteer Department (25 members), we don't have many calls. Accountability has been on my mind for a while now and we are in the process of implementing a system of a dogtag to be clipped on a ring on one of our two vehicles (pumper or rescue). This is even more important to a Dept. such as ours as really we don't know who out of the 25 is available to show up at the scene of an emergency or how many is actually on scene. When we respond to a call at 3:00 in the morning to a major structure, should there be a building collapse or such, I wouldn't be able to tell you who is there unless we checked individual lockers at the firehall to see who's gear is out. Scarey. After attending a Fire Incident Management Course a few months ago, this was one of the points that hit home that was not thought of before. How many more chiefs out there of small towns realize this? If we were a paid group with a team of four on a pumper responding, at least the four would tend to look out to each other as a team for accountability whereas we aren't really sure who arrives late at a scene and don't have anybody set up for taking a roll call. Our system will be in operation shortly.

  14. #14
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    We too have seen the same problems that you have. It sometimes takes a minute to get the ball rolling at a working fire.

    If you only have an officer and two or three firefighters, accountability shouldn't be a problem. Tag in, activate your PASS, or what ever system you use and tell one person to stay outside and run the pump. If they somehow forget who went in, they could look at what ever you have for a system. AFTER more help shows up, begin the sectored accountablity showing who's where and what they are doing.

    The best accountablity is when everyone watches each others back. We work in teams. As the help arrives in POV's they are teamed up. They don't split a team without a direct order from the I/C.

    Keep trying, no one system works for everyone. It's difficult keep interest in these things when you only have a couple workers a year. (Like we do) The system should be flexible to allow it to build with the situation at hand. Make it complicated and it will slow you down, or even worse, not get used.

  15. #15
    Brian Dunlap
    Firehouse.com Guest


    During the Day we run Light Also...We have a Tag System in Place that works pretty well. Each Member is issued two tags. One Tag is left behind in the seat of the truck you ride and the other to the OIC of the Incident. Fortunatley we have three chief officers that work rotating shift work so one of them if not all three are around in the day time. Our OIC's usually never enter the building -- If Man-Power is Light we Continue to call in Mutial Aid until we have what we need {if it takes 6 companies for a house fire we call 'em in} The Chief can't run the Job from inside -- Chief keeps a tag collection system in his vehicle and is able to keep up on where everybody is including the mutial aid companies

    "S.F.C. Home of the New Jersey State Fire Firemen's Association Convention Champions 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000

  16. #16
    Firehouse.com Guest


    We are in the process of getting tags (2) that clip to the back of our helmet. However, these have been on "order" for about a year now. In the meantime we bought a dry erase board and mounted it inside the top compartment of our truck with a marker. The engineer in theory will write down the names of all individuals they see on the scene so we have some way of knowing who is present. We even wrote "accountability board" on top of it. The reply from our captain was a big question mark, so keeping accountability appears to fall on the shoulders of the very few who place safety first. But with just a few on a rural scene, the board will help until you can identify some other system (helmet tags, velcro IDs, etc.) that work best and easiest for your department. Good luck!!

  17. #17
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Thanks for your help everyone. You know, the internet is a really valuable tool to the fire service. Where else can you pool so much information from so many different departments? I appreciate everyone's input. Stay safe.

    Eric Minnich, FF/EMT
    Neffs Volunteer Fire Co.
    Neffs, Pennsylvania

    "Leather Forever"

  18. #18
    Firehouse.com Guest


    In this area we give the initial accountability to the first in pump operator, who relieves it to the next in exterior chief. Seems to work well.

    FF. Mike Burnes
    Whitehall Fire Division

  19. #19
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I'm right there with you N2DFire, we have no accountability system in place either, and that goes for our entire county also! I am really ashamed to say that too.
    We are in the process of implementing an accountability system. A few of the old heads say it is useless, but the majority see it as a necessity. We too have a problem with daytime manpower. It is hard to have someone in charge of accountability when you need every hand you have to take care of business.
    Our preliminary plan is to go with the tags that clip on the back of our helmets. We are going to start by having a place on the trucks to place the tag, hot and cold. We are hoping to get everyone used to this and beginning to refine and improve the system as we go along.
    The system LHS* is speaking of would be nice, but funding that would be another hurdle. We have a hard enough time getting money to replace our old SCBA's, much less an integrated PASS system. We do use PASS's though.

    Just my $.02 and mine alone.

    Be safe out there, will ya!!

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