13 Fireground Indiscretions

Mark Emery details 13 indiscretions that have killed and injured firefighters and mistakes officer make.


Here’s the plan: None of your fireground operations will become the subject of a firefighter-fatality investigation report. If this plan is acceptable, you will appreciate this article, which introduces you to "13 Fireground Indiscretions" that have killed and injured many firefighters. By...


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As an incident manager, there is nothing you can do strategically to control a firefighter’s cardiovascular system, nothing you can do strategically to change a firefighter’s heredity and nothing you can do to change a firefighter’s emotional state while driving. Granted, these factors are also important; however, because they are not manageable by incident managers, these factors were not considered.

The drill went like this: I would read a fatality investigation report and make a list of what I believed to be strategic factors that contributed to the fatality. Over a period of years and the study of numerous reports, I would add additional strategic transgressions to the list.

Here’s a nugget: As each new report was reviewed I found less and less to add to the list. Eventually I could find nothing to add to the list. As new reports are reviewed, I still can’t find new factors to add to the list.

Did you catch the significance of the last statement? As new reports are reviewed, I still can’t find new factors to add to the list. Why do you think I can’t find anything to add? Because the same factors are happening over and over.

I discovered a cluster of strategic indiscretions that have contributed to the death of many firefighters; thus, I was able to consolidate the list of strategic indiscretions to 13: the “13 Fireground Indiscretions.â€

—Mark Emery


Next: "The Ten Command-Ments of Intelligent and Safe Fireground Operations."


Mark Emery, CFO, is a shift battalion chief with the Woodinville, WA, Fire & Life Safety District. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program and an NFA instructor specialist. Emery received a bachelor of arts degree from California State University at Long Beach and is a partner with Fire Command Seattle LLC in King County, WA. He may be contacted at fci@usa.com.