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    Default Senior Officers won't take Command!

    There are some Senior Officers (DC.'s) on our job who "refuse" to take Command from Company Officers at incidents. We Captains believe that they are being negligent and causing potential issues with our crews. The DC.'s are partially supported by our IMS which states that "in situations of complex or larger tactical incidents the Senior Officer shall take Command". This is the only reference to them mandatorily taking/assuming Command. Is there anyone else who has experienced this? Any recommendations?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rammer44 View Post
    There are some Senior Officers (DC.'s) on our job who "refuse" to take Command from Company Officers at incidents. We Captains believe that they are being negligent and causing potential issues with our crews. The DC.'s are partially supported by our IMS which states that "in situations of complex or larger tactical incidents the Senior Officer shall take Command". This is the only reference to them mandatorily taking/assuming Command. Is there anyone else who has experienced this? Any recommendations?
    I think you should watch throwing your dept name out there like that. I would say to answer your question step up to the plate and lead. If you are a Captain I would do what ever I would have to do to look out for you crew. Sounds like an internal problem that maybe should involve your higher ups.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dday05 View Post
    I think you should watch throwing your dept name out there like that.
    I don't see a department name in his post or your quote of his post. DIdi you both edit??

    I agree by the way. An internal problem that you are gonna have to deal with however you deem necessary. Knowing the circumstances, I also agree that you will have to do whatever it takes to keep accountability for your crew.
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    they just dont want to do the paperwork

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I don't see a department name in his post or your quote of his post. DIdi you both edit??
    .
    I guess i'm just a dumbass and should of read it better! I saw DC's and assumed he was talking about DC.FD I apologize Rammer. I should go back to a reading class or something.

    Anyways the bottom line is the safety of your crew!!Take care!

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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I don't see a department name in his post or your quote of his post. DIdi you both edit??

    I agree by the way. An internal problem that you are gonna have to deal with however you deem necessary. Knowing the circumstances, I also agree that you will have to do whatever it takes to keep accountability for your crew.
    I didn't see it, either. Unless he thinks DC is Washington, DC and not District Chief.

    I agree as well, seems like internal issue. I feel your pain, though. I'm glad we don't have that issue, BCs have to assume command on multi-company incidents and are happy to do so. They don't have any paperwork, first in company officer has to do the reports the the BC reviews and revises as needed.

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    Thanks Memphis. You hit on our main concern ... our crews. It puts Captains and A/Captains in a delicate position and since our District Chiefs are sent only for Command purposes it is becoming more frustrating.

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    Incident command goes both ways. A higher ranking officer, seeing that present lower ranking IC has everything under control may elect to keep the IC of the incident in charge and take on an "observer" role.


    I had a structure fire where I was working an OT callback for hazmat coverage and caught a working fire in an apartment building. I radioed the
    2nd due Engine and informed the LT on the rig that he wouild have command, as I was needed inside on the line with the crew.
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    Catch 22. Thanks for the reply. Just one question though ... By "multi-company incidents" could you elaborate? ie. pot on the stove ... small exterior fire ... working house fire ... highrise incident, etc. FYI -Our majority of fires occurs in the older downtown area of the city and the DC.'s respond within 3 or 4 minutes ... so there is not much time between first arriving apparatus and a DC. As for the paperwork ... no concern.

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    Rammer, I have had the same thing done to me, however it was done with a purpose. As Gonzo said, the Chief kept an observer's role. I personally feel it is a great learning experience on the command and control aspect of being an officer.

    Now, if it was a safety issue where manpower was limited, and they refused to take command, I'd have a serious issue about 2 things:

    1. Maybe they are just an *****, or
    2. Maybe they don't know how to be a leader and are scared to take the initiative to learn.

    Just my thoughts though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rammer44 View Post
    Catch 22. Thanks for the reply. Just one question though ... By "multi-company incidents" could you elaborate? ie. pot on the stove ... small exterior fire ... working house fire ... highrise incident, etc. FYI -Our majority of fires occurs in the older downtown area of the city and the DC.'s respond within 3 or 4 minutes ... so there is not much time between first arriving apparatus and a DC. As for the paperwork ... no concern.
    I'll start with the fact we're a 5-company department. If a second engine/truck and rescue is requested on an MVA, if we have a working fire, larger brush fires, etc. are "multi-company". Basically anything that requires a second (or more) company gets a BC. On things like a fire alarm (first due runs hot, second and third nonemergent), they often let the first or second due assume command and stay available, especially if there's nothing showing.

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    Here in Queensland we run the system so that the OIC of the first arriving appliance takes command (even if he is only a firefighter), once an officer appears (another appliance or the DC), they do not have to take command, if all is ok and under control they may step back and observe and assist so the existing IC can gain experience/tutelage.
    However, if there is problem or the IC doesn't feel comfortable they will step in and take command to ensure safety.

    If a DC always grabs command, the lower guys will never get any ICS experience which will make it difficult for them as they progress up the ranks.

    If you are having the problem where they won't take command if you are struggling or you have requested they do so, then you need to say something.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rammer44 View Post
    There are some Senior Officers (DC.'s) on our job who "refuse" to take Command from Company Officers at incidents. We Captains believe that they are being negligent and causing potential issues with our crews. The DC.'s are partially supported by our IMS which states that "in situations of complex or larger tactical incidents the Senior Officer shall take Command". This is the only reference to them mandatorily taking/assuming Command. Is there anyone else who has experienced this? Any recommendations?
    Sounds like you have some very well paid spectators.
    Are they "avoiding" taking command or is there some SOP that they have found a loophole in to hide behind?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Landy01 View Post
    Here in Queensland we run the system so that the OIC of the first arriving appliance takes command (even if he is only a firefighter), once an officer appears (another appliance or the DC), they do not have to take command, if all is ok and under control they may step back and observe and assist so the existing IC can gain experience/tutelage.
    However, if there is problem or the IC doesn't feel comfortable they will step in and take command to ensure safety.

    If a DC always grabs command, the lower guys will never get any ICS experience which will make it difficult for them as they progress up the ranks.

    If you are having the problem where they won't take command if you are struggling or you have requested they do so, then you need to say something.
    Same here.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    ChiefReason. To answer your question ... "Are they "avoiding" taking command or is there some SOP that they have found a loophole in to hide behind?" The anser is both. First they avoid then when questioned they refer to the policy.

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    Perhaps my views on Incident Command are skewed as our department previously used a system that placed Command responsibilities in a chain-of command and company officers operated in a task specific role. SOP's made fireground operations smoother as tasks were pre-assigned. An analogy here would be a football team on offence.
    i) A play is called for appropriate situation; all players are aware of each others tasks; play is executed.
    ii) A play is called for appropriate situation; all players are aware of each others tasks; Qb or other player realizes a change must be made due to situation; An audible is called; play is executed.
    Sorry about that! But just two more thoughts.
    Firstly. Simply put, a company officer's job at a working stucture fire IS to supervise their crew and perform tasks. NOT to play Incident Commander and try and where two-hats.
    Secondly. Fireground operations always have a potential for injury and death. We should always want the best person in the best position (role). Training for a position should be done by properly educating and then qualifying them through testing (Acting) along with experience gained in the previous rank. Per Platoon, on any given fire response our department could have any one of 20 Captains or 16 A/Captains as Incident Commanders. This means a new qualified A/Captain (7 yrs) to a veteran Captain of 35 yrs. all with perhaps slightly different ways. I prefer the consistency of knowing one commander and how they operate vs trying to anticipate what 20 different commanders (perhaps 36 is more accurate) might do.
    To finish with some another analogies.
    i) World Series Game 7 - You go with your best pitcher, don't ya.
    ii) Stanley Cup Playoffs - Your best goaltender.
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    The citizens pay for the Best! They must get the Best Commander!
    Thanks for letting me rant.

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    I prefer the consistency of knowing one commander and how they operate vs trying to anticipate what 20 different commanders (perhaps 36 is more accurate) might do.
    Interesting. With all the common training in the department, I'm a bit curious as to how 20 different commanders would do things so differently?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Interesting. With all the common training in the department, I'm a bit curious as to how 20 different commanders would do things so differently?

    A commander with 25 years in is going to have more experience to draw from than one with ten years in. Or the 25 year vet is essentially retired in place and the 10 year guys know what's going on.

    I do believe that there is a time and place for a company officer to remain in charge as a learning experience under the watch of a superior officer, but I also believe that those are few and far between. When a superior officer gets on the scene and understands the incident, progress made, and the game plan, he should take command.

    Rammer, I feel your pain, because I've seen the same thing.

    Doesn't anyone have "command presence" any more?
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    Quote Originally Posted by ullrichk View Post
    A commander with 25 years in is going to have more experience to draw from than one with ten years in. Or the 25 year vet is essentially retired in place and the 10 year guys know what's going on.

    I do believe that there is a time and place for a company officer to remain in charge as a learning experience under the watch of a superior officer, but I also believe that those are few and far between. When a superior officer gets on the scene and understands the incident, progress made, and the game plan, he should take command.

    Rammer, I feel your pain, because I've seen the same thing.

    Doesn't anyone have "command presence" any more?

    Well, Yes. At least some of us do. I DO NOT jump in and yell, "I'm Here, I've Got IT!!........" Some Chiefs do that, and it's a bit detrimental at times. I have a good group of Officers, and I'm quite confident in their abilities. So, as a result, I don't immediately "Grab" Command, but, I'll ease into it as needed. I ran a recent job where the call was close to the station, and I was some distance off. The senior of three Captains was on the first Engine and assumed Command. When I arrived, about 6 or 7 minutes later, the situation was under control and there was no need for me to interrupt the system that was working as it was intended to do. However, I will take instant action if there is a safety problem, or an immenient danger to anyone.
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    Lead, follow or get out of the way. You can add "resign, retire" to that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Incident command goes both ways. A higher ranking officer, seeing that present lower ranking IC has everything under control may elect to keep the IC of the incident in charge and take on an "observer" role.
    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    Rammer, I have had the same thing done to me, however it was done with a purpose. As Gonzo said, the Chief kept an observer's role. I personally feel it is a great learning experience on the command and control aspect of being an officer.
    Right on target. If an incident is within the command capabilities of the Captain it is unnecessary for the DC to assume command unless he see's something going wrong. Running incidents is the best command training that there is and a smart DC will utilize that teaching tool whenever it's prudent to do so.
    Last edited by DeputyMarshal; 06-25-2007 at 02:32 PM.
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    That's the way we do it. Just 'cause I'm there doesn't mean I'm assuming and even if the initial IC is starting to "bog"a little I might offer suggestions rather than assume the call.This accomplishes two things.One it gives the jr officer a little more confidence and two.leaves me available for another call if it comes in.As Harve indicated,if safety is slipping or things aren't looking so good then there will be a Command change.So I guess there are a few different ways you can look at this. T.C.

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    Default Company Officers Belong with the Crew!

    Company Officers belong with their crew NOT ON THE FRONT LAWN! If youe engine company is staffed with 4, (driver,officer, hydrant, nozzle), and the company officer takes command who is with the nozzle man. This is how we kill people especialy ones with little experience. I thought that senior officers made the big bucks to command the fire ground.

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    If a chief shows up and won't release a captain to rejoin his crew (I don't believe he should be outside in the first place, but thats a different argument...) then he should turn in his bugles and stop taking pay to be in charge. A company officers place is with his company.
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