Friday, February 5, 2010

Errors and Omissions

This past week on the burgeoning internet call-in radio show Firefighter Netcast.com, HERE, a dynamic discussion developed related to the DeKalb County fatal house fire incident and the apparent questionable actions purported by the company and command officers and the repercussions that have lead to FD employment terminations and resignations, HERE.

I discussed recently how Company and Command Officers should be highly accountable and highly responsive to the demands and duties that come with that rank and the inherent responsibilities that are intrinsic, fundamental and vital to our sworn duty HERE. The radio call-in discussions revolved around issues dealing with fire department complacency, expectations, accountability and discipline; fundamental responsibilities and actions that are required by companies, their staff and the company officer; as well as those of the incident commander.

The common theme resonated around the fact that nobody could believed that the entire balance of a structural alarm assignment didn’t conduct a more thorough investigation or have a more robust questioning attitude to further validate the assumptions being made at the scene that the alarm was unfounded. The issued FD report HERE stated that no personnel exited their apparatus to investigate any of the occupancies, other than to spot in backing up the trucks. Protocols and standards implemented in an organization will guide and drive operational actions at an incident scene. The deployment and management of that incident scene is predicated and rests squarely with the company and command officers to perform duties and actions aligned with organizational expectations, accountability and responsiveness.

How do you address the influence of error-likely situations in which complacency may creep into an incident scene when there is nothing readily apparent, however there is an indication that something is wrong? How do you maintain the heightened sense of preparedness, safety and readiness when you’ve responded to an alarm activation at the same address numerous times in the past with no events; but on this run you’re confronted with an escalating situation that calls for immediate and prompt fire suppression and rescue actions-but you’re not prepared?

How would you have addressed a similar call to a reported structure fire at a given neighborhood and building address and find nothing showing or evident upon arrival? What level of rigor does your company (or fire deparment) expect or apply to determine that an incident is unfounded, false or an honest mistake? What are YOUR standards for responsibility and accountably?

Remember this; "Errors and Omissions are VERY unforgiving...."
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