Saturday, February 7, 2009


Chief Alan Brunacini (1985, 2002) wrote;
• We will risk our lives a lot, in a highly calculated and controlled manner, to protect a savable human life;
• We will risk our lives a little, in a highly calculated and controlled manner, to protect savable property.
• We will not risk our lives at all to protect lives or property that is already lost.”Of the 16

Firefighter Life Safety initiatives, initiative #3 provides dominant importance related to combat firefighting and command management and risk;
#3. Focus greater attention on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical, and planning responsibilities

IAFC'S 10 RULES OF ENGAGEMENT The International Association of Fire Chief's (IAFC), in (2001) developed and published its "10 Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting" that apply to all fires:

Acceptability of Risk

1. No building or property is worth the life of a firefighter.
2. All interior fire fighting involves an inherent risk.
3. Some risk is acceptable, in a measured and controlled manner.
4. No level of risk is acceptable where there is no potential to save lives or savable property.
5. Firefighters shall not be committed to interior offensive fire fighting operations in abandoned or derelict buildings.

Risk Assessment
1. All feasible measures shall be taken to limit or avoid risks through risk assessment by a qualified officer.
2. It is the responsibility of the Incident Commander to evaluate the level of risk in every situation.
3. Risk assessment is a continuous process for the entire duration of each incident.
4. If conditions change, and risk increases, change strategy and tactics.
5. No building or property is worth the life of a firefighter.

(Note; The IAFC Safety, Health & Survival Section is presently working to update the Rules of Engagement in 2009)

Since there is a lot of discussion being directed within the Fire Service at Risk Assessment, Risk Profiling, Risk Size-Up, Risk versus Benefit (or Gain)….and there appears to me more talk than action on this subject related to the “real demands of firefighting”, that risk is part of the job, that “this whole thing on risk is a lot of nothing” etc… (I’m being very general here for the sake of getting this discussion going, there is a lot of great things going on in a lot of departments in terms of risk) to many others, RISK is just another four letter word that has no direct meaning to the firefighter.

With the continuing adverse trend in LODD; The operative question around the table today for discussion is this:
  • How do you define RISK; to yourself, your company and/or to the operating companies on a fire scene?
  • How do you assess risk from the perspective of an Incident Commander, Company Officer or Firefighter?
  • What is your measurement of risk and how do you monitor it throughout the course of an incident?
  • What arethe basis that you utilize to assess risk and develop your IAP or task assignments from?
  • What does risk mean to you, personally?
  • Have you ever found yourself in a (high risk) situation, and realized that the gain didn’t balance with the risk?

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