This is my first attempt at writing for a blog so, I figured that I should talk about the most important thing facing firefighters today – their safety!
Accountability is the responsibility of everyone on the fireground – not just the Incident Commander.
Developing an easy to use accountability system, instituting department SOG/SOPs, training with and using the personnel accountability system religiously at all incidents will promote a much safer work environment. As we all know, emergency scenes can be chaotic upon first arrival. It is OUR role to bring this uncontrolled incident back into a state of control. Firefighter safety and accountability should be OUR priority when working on scene. An accountability system should be capable of growing as the incident dictates and should be easy to understand for all involved. And don’t forget about the police, paramedics, utilities, FPO/OFM and all other outside personnel who could arrive on scene and work in the hot zone during the incident.
If fire is the lead agency, it becomes OUR role to account for everyone working in the hot zone. Tasking a competent and experienced firefighter to run the accountability system is an important delegation. Ensure good communications between the IC, the accountability officer and those crews working within the hot zone – this will keep everyone safe.
And one last suggestion – if possible, try to keep crews (of two) together throughout the entire incident to further simplify the accountability system.
Stay safe! Dave Aitken