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    Default Engine Company Operations

    I have a question to ask. First, lets assume the following condition: a combination FD with 1st out engine company staffed with four personnel and a chief officer arriving on scene four to five minutes later. Fire conditions will require offensive operations. So, the question is: you as a company officer would estabish command and remain outside and assigns two presonnel (fiefighter 1 and 2) to conduct interior fire attack or would you assume interior operations role with FF1 and pass command to the arriving chief?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brammer View Post
    I have a question to ask. First, lets assume the following condition: a combination FD with 1st out engine company staffed with four personnel and a chief officer arriving on scene four to five minutes later. Fire conditions will require offensive operations. So, the question is: you as a company officer would estabish command and remain outside and assigns two presonnel (fiefighter 1 and 2) to conduct interior fire attack or would you assume interior operations role with FF1 and pass command to the arriving chief?
    A company officer's primary responisbility is to ensure his company comes home and operates efficently. If the chief is arriving right behind the engine, there is no need for a Lt. or Capt to assume command.

    Personally? I don't think a company officer should ever assume full command of an incident. That leaves the firefighters of their company operating without the bosses supervision. Chiefs get "paid" to be in command, so command.
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    It depends on my crew. If I have a quality guy that's on the line that knows how to fight fire and will get the job done inside with out the officer barking in his ear I think the officer should take command. He knows what he wants done by the incoming units. Once the Chief is on the scene and a face to face has been completed theres no reason the officer can't rejoin his crew.
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    Default Establish command or go in?

    As Captain I've run into the same exact scene more than once. It has to depend on the situation. More often than not I will go in with the crew of two others, pump operator outside, after I'm sure another Chief Officer, ours or mutual aid is no more than 2 minutes out. By the time I let dispatch know I am going inside, first due Chief to take command, the line is at the door, charged, everyone is on air and in we go. It also gives me a chance to do a quick size up before making the final decision. If I'm not comfortable with how long it will take the next in Officer, or need time to make more size up, positioning decisions for the next engine and ladder, I would opt for outside and turn over Command to the Chief arriving first or just get "stuck" with Command for the call. Bottom line is if it isn't safe for the two firefighters to start the attack, then it probably isn't safe for the three of you and no command system either.

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    Ditto. (Section, District, Asst., Deputy) Chief announces he/she's enroute as well. That tells the four man crew (lucky) that brass is on the way as well and that they can commit all their resources to the scene. Engine arrives onscene and updates dispatch as well as enroute Chief of what he finds then goes to work.
    Interested in getting back into industrial security, fire and ems.

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    Thanks for your promt input. If anyone have a valid argument to support the idead that the company officer should be outside in command, please let me know. I need more ammo to argue my opposition against allowing the fire officers to sit outside the hot zone and letting its junnior members to take the heat. It is my position and the way I train with my crew that the first arriving engine company officer shall lead fire operations. The officer is the member that hopefully, has the most experience/training and it shall be capable to ensure the safety of its personnel, and at the same time bring the incident to a acceptable outcome. I respect firefighters with experience and I use them according to the situation at hand, but I will never place subordinates in harms way without proper supervison. I have searched more than a dozen fire dept SOGs to include NYFD, LAFD, Dallas, Ft Worth and others to ensure that it is not crazy to stand by my crews and guide them into the fire. It is my hope and it may be the best thing I could do for them so when I leave the fire service they can do the same for those under their command.

    I am not sure who is teaching company officers to assume command and assign his firefighters to go in take a beating. I just hope that our department chiefs and leaders do not go that route.

    Thanks again
    Last edited by Brammer; 05-04-2007 at 09:26 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brammer View Post
    Thanks for your promt input. If anyone have a valid argument to support the idead that the company officer should be outside in command, please let me know. I need more ammo to argue my opposition against allowing the fire officers to sit outside the hot zone and letting its junnior members to take the heat. It is my position and the way I train with my crew that the first arriving engine company officer shall lead fire operations. The officer is the member that hopefully, has the most experience/training and it shall be capable to ensure the safety of its personnel, and at the same time bring the incident to a acceptable outcome. I respect firefighters with experience and I use them according to the situation at hand, but I will never place subordinates in harms way without proper supervison. I have searched more than a dozen fire dept SOGs to include NYFD, LAFD, Dallas, Ft Worth and others to ensure that it is not crazy to stand by my crews and guide them into the fire. It is my hope and it may be the best thing I could do for them so when I leave the fire service they can do the same for those under their command.

    I am not sure who is teaching company officers to assume command and assign his firefighters to go in take a beating. I just hope that our department chiefs and leaders do not go that route.

    Thanks again
    Might have better luck if you search FDNY just so you know

    Seriously it is the new NIMS crap that is being shoved down peoples throats that promotes this concept that someone must have full stationary command of an incident for it to run smoothly.
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    'The fire went out and nobody got hurt' is a poor excuse for a fireground critique.

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    Look up and study the "Incident Management System". One good book is, "Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer" by Colman, its a FireEngineering book. Basically we use this entire buook as our SOG.

    There are in deed times when the Co officer should establish Command and there are times when the first in Co including the officer should attack the fire or whatever else is needed.

    The first in "Company Officer" should establish Command and set the stage for the next incoming units if this will in fact benifit the outcome of the situation. Likewise...if it will benifit the situations outcome the first in unit should go "Fast Attack" and let the next in unit take command.

    Remember, "Life Safety" should be your #1 concern!!
    Last edited by MEDIC0372; 05-04-2007 at 10:35 PM.

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    "Might have better luck if you search FDNY just so you know"

    I am sorry. I did mean to offend anyone. For the guys up there in NY, my heart goes to you every minute. I have an incredible respect for all of you.

    In other note, NFPA 1561 have few examples for 4-member crew initial assigments and to my surprise its suggest FDs to have to option of "team leader(officer) and D/O outside and FFs with the hoseline inside" Do not agree with that...

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    Brammer....

    IF that first engine is part of a response that would include other engines and / or ladders AND they are en route and close it is far more beneficial for that first officer to have an active command that puts him into the action than to have him outside. Especially IF the fire could be caught with that initial line OR there are victims to rescue.

    Is it a stretch of 2 in 2 out? Probably, UNLESS there are victims then 2 in 2 out goes out the window anways.

    We have officers on the job that will take initial command and go to work because we know the duty chief isn't far behind us.

    FyredUp

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    I'm probably setting myself up for a fall going with a FNG on his first post, but I like Bonfire46's first post above

    It's not ideal to be stuck in that situation of having to figure out if you should be command or be a company officer.

    Consistency is the biggest single advantage career systems have, especially larger city career systems. Their SOPs aren't going to have a situation where a company officer assumes command from the outside -- because that's going to be way out of the ordinary and nothing "Standard" about it. They have sufficient personnel responding, know a Chief is on their heels, and usually are running on auto-pilot with SOPs that assume other incoming companies will also automatically be doing certain things.

    As you get into somewhat smaller career or staffed volunteer systems, you get into the concept of passing command to the next incoming officer (i.e. give your size-up and report you're passing command to the next in officer) and go to work.

    My experiences however are like Bon's -- never knowing quite what you'll have when until it actually shows up on scene. It keeps you on your toes a fair bit more!

    If you are going inside with the crew -- and for the sake of satisfying the 2in/2out question we'll assume you have good reason to believe there is someone trapped by the fire -- it's important to make sure your pump operator watching the outside for changing conditions. Not too difficult if you have one of those evil contraptions called a top-mounted pump panel (ok, I guess there is one legitimate use for them...) but may be a challenge if your pump panel is facing away from the building. The Operator will have to be competent enough to run a pump without looking at the guages continually -- going off the sound, visual of the supply and attack lines, etc so he can leave the panel and observe the fire.

    Getting back to 2in/2out, if you're in the majority of places that are under that rule that may be the biggest thing you'll have to get by management -- there are firefighters who will justifiably argue 2in/2out mandates a minimum of 5 people on scene (it depends on how critical you believe the pump operator is and whether he can abandon that post for a rescue).

    Certainly with only a 4 man crew, the Officer & Pump Operator are the bare minimum of the "2out." While it's not a bad firefighting maxim to assume there is someone trapped until we say there isn't...that's not going to carry much weight with the OSH Regulators who'll want you to know there is someone trapped before violating 2in/2out by having 3in/1out
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 05-05-2007 at 12:34 AM.

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    You'll find me inside with my company.
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    Management is making sure things are done right. Leadership is doing the right thing. The fire service needs alot more leaders and a lot less managers.

    "Everyone goes home" is the mantra for the pussification of the modern, American fire service.


    Comments made are my own. They do not represent the official position or opinion of the Fire Department or the City for which I am employed. In fact, they are normally exactly the opposite.

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    here's a question that kinda goes along with this. here we have 2 on an engine. officers tend to pull the hose while the driver does his thing than the driver goes to the front door to meet the officer. who should have the nozzel officer or FF/driver. the officers here tend to keep it and I tend to have to chuck hose.
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    A ff should be a ff and an officer should be an officer. If you still are wanting nozzle time then go back to being a firefighter. The officer should be directing the nozzleman. Unfortunatly with alot of staffing it is only a ff and an officer on the initial line. And like Memphis stated I am with my crew. If it is a major incident I might set up a strong command, but my crew isnt going anywhere without me. For the bread and butter fires it is forward command in with my crew. The BC can assume command without a face to face from me. I can advise him of the conditions and progress being made and he can give me input from what it is looking like from the outside.

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    I like the points about the 2in/2out, trust me the FAST, RIT whichever you call it team is probably a good 5 minutes behind the next incoming Chief and if there is anyone really waiting for them, let me know! Generally I end up being Operations officer inside and calling what I need from there. Our pump operators are awesome and can't get qualified until they are not only really good, can multitask around the engine and stay alert, they can read smoke and hear stuff Command misses sometimes so I count on them alot. The Chiefs in the area all know thats what I'm gonna do and are usually asking me what I need and what I have before they even get there. Although this is my usual way of going, there also those days that the Chief's are busy at their County meeting 20 minutes away, mutual aid company's are at their own calls - Just like Dalmation said, there's nothing Standard about any fire scene. Remember they changed SOP's to SOG's because the fact is they are just there as guidelines. Firefighting is not like doing your math homework. One of the "joys" of being an Officer is being willing to accept responsiblity for your decisions. It comes out right and your a great leader, someone disagrees and you didn't follow the SOG's! I'm doing this so long, I remember when the Chief was Chief because he was the best firefighter and you would follow him inside anytime. Now he's outside being management - but a good Chief is working for you outside making sure you get what you need and watching the changes you can't see and ultimately that makes it safer inside. A good idea is to read the follow up investigations on LODD. They almost all cite lack of good incident command as a factor so management probably has that on their mind when they tell you to stay outside and establish command rather than go inside with your crew. Maybe you should tell management to make sure their Chiefs have as timely a response as your crews so they can do their job if they don't want you to go in with your crew and do your job.

    Fireslayer, do you mean the the 2 on the engine are only the officer and ff/driver or are there 2 beside you?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonfire46 View Post

    Fireslayer, do you mean the the 2 on the engine are only the officer and ff/driver or are there 2 beside you?
    2 on the engine total I drive and then an officer
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    This answers a lot of questions. Effective Engine Company Operations: The Heart and Soul of the Fire Service

    We run three man engine companies, the firefighter is on the nozzle while I act as the back-up. This allows me to direct his actions and still monitor the developing situation within the structure. Normally, we have a medic crew who will assist with placing the line into operation and then break-off to do the primary. Our SOG's cover the actions of what the first-alarm assignment should perform without being told. This will cover a lot of your "bread and butter" operations. However, as we all know things don't always work out the way we want them to...LOL.
    Last edited by FDAIC485; 05-05-2007 at 11:57 AM.
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    There needs to be a command officer, on the exterior of the building, at ALL times on EVERY incident. To me, this is a point on which I see no compromise.

    This is a basic safety premise. Command must always exist.

    To many things can happen that are not visable from the inside. Condition changes visable only from the outside may be missed. Many radio messages can be missed while working inside. Information that civilains or property owners may have about contents, occupancy or structural conditions will not reach the firefighters. My assumption is that your jumpseat firefighters are fully trained and competent to stretch the line and make firefighting decisions. I see no need for an officer to supervise them if they have been trained and understand the basic departments firefighting objectives.

    I see an officers role as an overall, or macro supervisory role. Compeltently trained firefighters do not need to be supervised all the time.

    If you have a rescue situation that requires 3 firefighters, why not simply take the pump operator off the pump and assign him to the crew? If you are flowing a single line, the company officer should have no problem pumping the engine and taking care of command functions at the same time. I have done it many times, and have had no issues.

    The situation described is command in our area. SOP is the first due officer or senior man will stay outside and command the incident. Firefighters will go inside, and the senior firefighter will manage the crew.

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    I run from a single engine house so we are rutinely there with just us - no truck, no chief - for a couple of minutes. There is never any question as to what the officers does. He goes in with us. He is a company officer and his duty lies with his company. The engineers job is the engine and only he will stay out.
    I am a complacent liability to the fire service

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChicagoFF View Post
    I run from a single engine house so we are rutinely there with just us - no truck, no chief - for a couple of minutes. There is never any question as to what the officers does. He goes in with us. He is a company officer and his duty lies with his company. The engineers job is the engine and only he will stay out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    There needs to be a command officer, on the exterior of the building, at ALL times on EVERY incident. To me, this is a point on which I see no compromise.

    This is a basic safety premise. Command must always exist.

    To many things can happen that are not visable from the inside. Condition changes visable only from the outside may be missed. Many radio messages can be missed while working inside. Information that civilains or property owners may have about contents, occupancy or structural conditions will not reach the firefighters. My assumption is that your jumpseat firefighters are fully trained and competent to stretch the line and make firefighting decisions. I see no need for an officer to supervise them if they have been trained and understand the basic departments firefighting objectives.

    I see an officers role as an overall, or macro supervisory role. Compeltently trained firefighters do not need to be supervised all the time.

    If you have a rescue situation that requires 3 firefighters, why not simply take the pump operator off the pump and assign him to the crew? If you are flowing a single line, the company officer should have no problem pumping the engine and taking care of command functions at the same time. I have done it many times, and have had no issues.

    The situation described is command in our area. SOP is the first due officer or senior man will stay outside and command the incident. Firefighters will go inside, and the senior firefighter will manage the crew.
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    Originally Posted by LaFireEducator
    There needs to be a command officer, on the exterior of the building, at ALL times on EVERY incident. To me, this is a point on which I see no compromise.
    Even for a BS "medical" at 0200 hours?
    A basement dewatering call?
    Investigating a water leak in a ceiling from an overflowing toilet?


    Incident Command is a dynamic situation. If you are the officer on the first due rig, and it's just you, the nozzleman and the pump operator and pull up to a room and contents fire and the rest of the troops are a minute or two out,what are you going to do. Stand outside with your thumb in your bum and let the fire spread or get to work, knock the living crap out of it and preserve the rest of person's property?

    The correct answer is "get to work".

    There are departments who wait until every single vest in the incident command structure is filled with a warm body before even starting fire ops... of course, those FD's that do should change their name to the "cellar saver FD" or "parking lot FD".
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
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    The engineer can tell if things are going to Hell. He can advise of the situation outside and radio the Captain, who should be inside seeing to extinguishment in 99.9% of the interior attack fires. The other .1%? Hell, I don't know, but there's probably some situation I've not thought of.

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    FDAIC ...

    Combo, primarily volunteer department. The officers here are not assigned, and neither are the firefighters, including the 1-3 man paid on-duty staff to a particulair "company". The vehicles arrive with the firefighters and then they are tasked. It's not uncommon to arrive with the engine and be tasked to ventilation or arrive with the rescue and then be tasked to fire attack, depending on the number of vollies already on scene or if an engine from one of the all-vollie satelitte stations is already on scen with lines out and volunteer members working them. Officers are assigned on a need basis either to supervise a sector or take an ICS staff assignment, even if they arrive on apparatus.

    Gonzo ..

    We have established command at every call. We make every effort for command to not be physically envolved in the incident and away from the immediatte incident area.

    EMS calls we make an effort for the IC to not be involved with patient care if at all possible. He may not be outside, but we try to keep him free to look at the big picture and not get tied up with care.

    In your scenario there are three options. Option one would be the officer, or senior man drives the rig to the call, anticipating that they will be the only 3. Then the officer, or senior man pumps the apparatus and functions as command from the pump panel. This option works well, and I have used it many times. Option two is once on scene, the officer or senior man switches roles with the driver, sending him interior while he pumps the truck and functions as command from the pump panel. This can be effective but there is a slight time delay as the driver now packs up. The officer can help the jumpseat man get line on the ground and do FE while he packs up, so this option can work with a bit of teamwork. Both option 1 and 2 keeps command outside where, IMO, it belongs. Honestly, this is not a situation we face often as we have at least 1-2 volunteers riding out, or a volunteer or two arriving on scene either before or at the same time as the first due engine.

    Option 3 has the officer or senior man going inside with the jumpseat man and functioning as combat command. One advantage we have is that if I choose this option, the first arriving volunteer can pack up, follow the line in, and replace me so I can head outside and be where I need to be if I am the senior man.

    The bottom line is it's my belief that you cannot effectivly command while interior.

    I realize that in bigger cities or places where there are designated "companies", officers feel more thied to thier men. We do not have that here. Officers and senior men are flexible in thier assignments and are tasked where the need is, not where the personel from the apparatus they came in on are working.

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    Command should be established on every call... but when Mrs. Smith's toilet is overflowing, is it necessary to be outside?

    There are times where you will have to go to work without the benefit of having someone "outside"... other wise, the outcome may not be favorable.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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