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  1. #1
    Forum Member jce51cfd's Avatar
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    Default Fireground Accountability

    My Department is all volunteer (115 members) and average about 950 fires a year (no EMS, a separate organization & they run about 2,500 calls a year). About 10 years ago we implemented firefighter accountability but is was very limited (tags on the rig). Two years ago we implemented an enhanced system (two tag system) to try and keep track of firefighter function/location and times operating. We have had very limited success in fully implementing this system due to various limitations (manpower/timing). Especially in the initial stages of an alarm. Most of the time we drop our second tag at the entrance and have later arriving companies start the process of recording times/locations (you can see the flaw in that). For larger incidents, safety officers from mutual aid Departments take on this as part of their role.

    I would be interested in hearing from others on how they are dealing with their fireground accountability. Especially if they have a similar situation and have some suggestions.

    Thanks


  2. #2
    Junior Member KVHCfirefighter's Avatar
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    Fort Edward, NY
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    We also run a 2 tag system. One goes on the apparatus you rode on or the apparatus nearest the scene if you arrived POV. The second tag goes to the Safety Officer or "door man" upon entering a structure and is given back upon exiting. It's not a perfect system, but it works.
    Glenn Ralston, FF/EMT-D
    Kingsbury Vol. Hose Co.
    Bay Ridge Rescue Squad

    IACOJ Safety Officer

  3. #3
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    Parma, Idaho
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    We use the passport system. You have two small boards in the Truck that have the vehical # on them. You place 1 of you name tags on each board. One board stays in the truck, one goes to the IC. The IC or Ops Officer has a master board that hold the truck boards. You can lable the masterboard to fit the scene so you know where everyone is, but it takes alot of practice. The third tag on you helmet could go to who ever is running the the board and they can do what they want with it. Oh Duh you have three name tags in you helmet and when you exit the truck you place a shield from that apparatus on your helmet. ie.. E902
    Stay Safe/Stay Low Go 8 Car Go

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Conshohocken, PA
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    jce51cfd,
    Your efforts at maintaining accountability at a fire scene are causing a conflict with beginning an aggressive interior attack. No accountability system should hamper the operation to the point where the aggressive fight has been taken out of the firefighter.

    We also were dropping the second tag at the front door, to account for the first-in engine and truck personnel when few officers are available to man the safety/accountability sectors. Leaving the tags at the door tended to cause these tags to get lost and/or damaged beyond repair. This begins to be a pain in the butt, in that your safety officer is constantly re-doing the badges. In a company that runs as much as yours, I'm sure that who ever is in charge of this particular job responsibility, is getting tired of it. (Maybe this job is yours?)

    We were having the same problem; try this. We instituted the MARC (Member Accountability Roll Call) system, that was being used successfully in St. Louis (I believe). The idea is that twenty minutes after the initial report of a working fire, the radio dispatcher will call command and advise that they are at "their first twenty minute marc" (this is repeated every twenty minutes until the fire is put under control or command cancels it). The officer for each unit will make a visual of all personnel that he is responsible for, with the exception of a pump operator (you might be able to use the radio to check on the guy) and report back to his officer that all members are accounted for. Truck company personnel are issued radios and if they are split into inside/outside teams they can quickly establish that all personnel are accounted for. Additionally command now has a benchmark to evaluate the incident scene and determine if changes need to be made to the incident plan.

    The twenty minute mark is normally where most first-in units will be needing to change cylinders and then if the incident appears as if it will go defensive or longer the second tags can be collected by the officer and given to the safety officer or command. This will also give the first-in units a time to regroup and rest while the unit officer gets additional orders from command.

    We still use the two tag system right from the start particularly for large incidents, such as high rise and complex incidents such as hazardous materials. These incidents normally require time to come up with additional personnel to mount an attack or set up cold/warm/hot zones which tends to allow more time so that additional personnel are available to man these positions.

    All personnel also make sure that their first tag gets put on the apparatus ring prior to leaving the apparatus, for all incidents. If a collapse occurs, or a mayday is received, officers and members are to report to their apparatus and the officers check their apparatus ring and make sure all personnel are accounted for. If anyone is missing he removes that tag from the ring and brings it to the command post to report the missing personnel.

    I hope this works for you guys. I hope that this was of some help.

    Good luck and stay safe. Keep me informed.
    Last edited by glowpop; 03-13-2002 at 04:40 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Default

    Frankly, I've never seen or heard of any American fire department implementing any sort of accountability or tracking program worth squat.

    My department too falls into the trap of what does the initial attack crew do before access to the "hot-zone" is controlled by accountability people. Yeah, if nothing else, drop a tag at the door.

    Systems like the Biosystems Touch 'n Track help with hot-zone tracking. But you're dependent on that unit -- if it fails, you've lost all accountability. http://www.biosystems.com/

    Systems like Grace Industry's GEM are better, and they continue to improve. GEM at least gives you knowledge of everyone on the scene wearing a PASS, usually kept on your bunker gear and keyed to you individually, and lets you know when one is in alarm. But as far as I know, they don't give you very accurate records of when someone entered the hot-zone and when to expect them out.

    Systems like MARC are better than just having tags hanging on a hook somewhere. Of course, it gives you 19 minutes that you could still be injured without anyone having a clue (an advantage to GEMS)

    The best system I've heard of has been around since the 1950s. In Britain -- were my understanding is it's pretty much culturally accepted in the British fire service that you don't enter a building until there is an Entry Control person in place who records your time in and time due out. As incidents expand, there is another officer above the Entry Control persons who has overall accountability responsibilty. That means someone on the first in pump is handling accountability. Maybe some of the British members here could elaborate on their system?

    And the British system isn't entirely foreign to the U.S. Fire Service -- most dive teams I see have pretty strong tracking & monitoring protocols in place. We just don't do it when diving into smoke instead of water.

    Yes, Accountability is it's own function, not one of the Incident Commander or the Safety Officer who have their own jobs.

    Until the American fire service gets it into their mind that accountability is a top priority, no technology or systems will help us. Technology like found at Biosystems and Grace can dovetail into a strong accountability program like Britain easily and make it more effective. They don't help you if you already routinely disregard accountability.

    I work full time in computer systems, and we have a simple saying -- if you can't make it work with paper, you can't make it work on a computer. If you don't have the discipline to follow accountability with tags, fancy electronics is going to fail, too.

  6. #6
    Junior Member KVHCfirefighter's Avatar
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    Fort Edward, NY
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    Dal,
    You're right. Accountability is EVERYONE'S responsibility. Both the IC and myself or the asst. SO have much more going on than just collecting tags. I can't very well be maintaining a 360 degree view of the incident if I'm stuck at the door.
    Glenn Ralston, FF/EMT-D
    Kingsbury Vol. Hose Co.
    Bay Ridge Rescue Squad

    IACOJ Safety Officer

  7. #7
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    Right behind ya Dal & Glenn,

    Doesn't matter what system you use, if the F/F up to & including the F/C does have the proper mindset, attitude and dedication about accountibility, none of 'em are going to work to their maximum.

    We have a single tag, Clemmons system. Tags are put on your respective collector ring and works great.

    The problem is, some guys forget to put the tag on the ring, then they end up with the snap and a glob of melted plastic attached to their helmet.

    Or the ACCT SYSTEM is not properly utilized by the IC or EOC does not follow up on PAR's, etc. If we don't clean our act up, we're gonna get burned. We gotta get EVERYONE on the same page and develop the attitude that F/F accountibility should be our first priority.
    These views/ opinions are my own and not those of my employer/ department.

  8. #8
    Member NMFD33's Avatar
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    New Milford Fire Dept Co.2 , NJ
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    Default acct.

    my dept just switched to a 2-tag system. the old system consisted of a green tag engraved with dept/company and name. the other company in town used orange tags. we would put the tag on hooks on the truck we came on. the new system uses the same tags but instead they go on a tag tree which goes in the front of the building. the tree has 4 rings (attack, search, vent, other). the new tags we added have vitals and medical info and those go on the apparatus now....we've only been using this newer system for 3 weeks, so we havnt tested it too well yet...
    Chris Kerrigan
    ILiveInACage@aol.com
    FireFighter/EMT/HazMat Tech

    New Milford Vol. Fire Dept Company #2
    New Milford,NJ

  9. #9
    Temporarily/No Longer Active Station7Cadet's Avatar
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    Pittsville Volunteer Fire EMS Rescue Department, Inc. Pittsville MD "Pittsville Pride"
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    Default

    My dept is like most others we have a two tag system, we have 2 tags and one goes on the appartus and the other goes to the safety officer/door man.

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