The Similarities of Fire Grounds and Battle Grounds

BALTIMORE – Are fire ground operations similar to combat operations?

USMC Major Jason Brezler believes they are in a number of ways.

“Similar to the battlefield, fire ground operations are conducted in an environment where uncertainty, fluidity, time pressure, resource limitations and danger are the norm not the exception. Leaders must accept and embrace this fact,” Brezler told firefighters attending a class at Firehouse Expo on Wednesday afternoon.

Brezler, an Iraq war veteran, also wears gear bearing FDNY logo. When he returned to the streets of New York, even though he was in a busy company, he wasn’t experiencing the rush he had in the war zone.

Yet, he found some things on both fronts – the clash of opposing wills and limited resources among them.

Tom Richardson, a volunteer fire chief from Long Island, who co-instructed the session, said training is essential to maintain a safe environment. And, creating a level of stress during those practice sessions will result in commanders making smart decisions on the fire ground.

He said it’s essential for officials to conduct a hot wash after an incident. Allowing everyone to talk is helpful as well because there’s nothing better than self critiquing.

Brezler concurred, saying: “Safety and survival are not synonymous. Safety is a concept that we seek to afford those we serve, while survival is a concept that we seek to instill in our members…”

He added that the most dangerous night for the FDNY was when they were slammed by Hurricane Sandy last fall. “There were no SOPs addressing the issues…”

The instructors also warned that over reliance on technology can breed a false sense of security.

“Discipline is NOT the blind obedience to orders and standing operating procedures. Rather, discipline is the product of understanding the environment and taking subsequent actions that contribute to the mission of protecting the general public while enhancing the survivability of those operating on the fire ground,” Brezler said.

Richardson added that complacency kills.

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