Friday, December 5, 2008

Alliance Reliance

Firerescue 1 has posted a story about the results of a recent survey given to a few Chiefs that was conducted by the Insurance Services Office (ISO). Reading the survey, the results seem trivial as they are essentially the typical results found in every reheated executive survey. Notwithstanding the current economic conundrum Chiefs are unwillingly facing, there are some underlying plausible solutions to these perpetual problems. Historically, little has been done to progressively solve some of them other than to rely on shoring up gaps in staffing by buying bigger trucks and radios with a zillion channels; and depending on mutual aid 54% of the time per the survey. Why is this?

Let's consider a few truisms:
  • It is the number of people on the first few arriving rigs that make the difference, not how many eventually get there.
  • "Nice to have" rigs are just that, nice to have. Why do we see humongous rescue rigs flying down the street with two people on them on their way to a car fire? Two people is barely enough to take these rigs for an oil change, let a lone a structure fire. Put those people on the same Truck to split the company to cover every part of the fire building upon arrival.
  • Regionalization is not just buzz ideology for mass transit and entertainment districts, it should be considered for public safety during these decimating economic times. Consolidate, we need to combine everything we have to meet the uncertainty that lies ahead both fiscally and operationally. Having everyone operate, train, look, and act the same is crucial if everyone is going to the same fires anyway. (now that's interoperability!)
  • 50 Training Officers in 50 different organizations in one County that don't talk to each other is absurd. Imagine what 50 Training Officers in one Academy could produce and manage; save the predictable egoism obstacles.
These are just a few that come to mind regarding mutual aid. The survey also delves into recruitment and retention and water supply issues. What truisms lie with these issues?
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  1. I think its pretty clear to most folks now that there need to be a national fire mutual aid system put into place here. At the moment, the stength of systems varies too much from state to state

  2. Maybe a bit off the point, but how do folks out there get all mutual aid companies working within the incident command system? It's a problem we're ecountered several times

  3. To Anonymous: if any of those departments agreed to take any of that federal funding that has floated around out there since 9-11, the language in thpse agreements usually required the department to "utilize the concepts and methodologies of the National Incident Management System". Check the language: if they took the money and still fail to comply, they are in violation of their agreement. Other than that- it's a best practice: if you don't do it, you could be civilly liable if something goes badly- like firefighters are killed.

  4. Everytime a large scale incident occurs, I am taken by the number of comments where the IC is complaining of a lack of control.
    Incident Command = incident control, as stated in Grimwood's book. I agree 1000%.
    If the incident went badly, who is ultimately accountable? Incident Command.
    We recently had a large scale incident and I met with our chief and he complained that he had to tell some of our people how to do some of the tasks.
    I simply told him that apparently we need more training.
    And I also told him that he needs to schedule meetings with our MA departments to explain NIMS to them, since they clearly didn't practice it, as evidenced by all of the free lancing at our last big fire.
    Yes, Mick; every one of the departments that were at our big fire have all received FIRE Act money in the last couple of years.
    It's sad, really that chaos exists even though everyone has radios, each department rolls a chief officer and yet, we still have to YELL to get someone's attention.
    Our technology is in the twenty first century, but our minds are still at the turn of the century.


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