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Questions about Standard Operating Procedures(Guidelines) or whatever your department calls them?

Recently I became aware that a local jurisdiction, which my department works closely, has no SOPs. I know at one point they had SOGs, that were very similar to my departments. I found this out during a training exercise. The exercise was a building fire and the first engine on location laid out from the hydrant. The second arriving piece was a supervisor (from my department), he took command and started running the fire ground. The next piece was the truck, followed closely by the final 2 engines. The fire was extinguished and the dummies were found and removed and the scenario was over. I thought there were minimal problems with the scenario, however I found out that neither of the engines that arrived after the initial engine picked up the line. While discussing the scenario I found out the their department has no SOPs and if you want them to do something, you must tell them. Does anyone have solid reasoning for not having SOP/SOG? I am really trying to understand the thinking behind this idea. 

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I can think of absolutely no good reason why the department would not have a thorough and comprehensive set of SOP's. It makes absolutely no sense in an industry as complicated and as intricate as ours to not have a well-written set of guidelines or procedures that one can follow when under extreme stress, limited resources and limited information. That is exactly what a standard operating procedure does best, it takes a little bit of that pressure off you so you have at least a framework of a game plan that you can manage your resources around. Having a set of standard operating procedures also allows companies to work together synergistically to achieve tactical objectives. It provides everyone standard game plan to fall back on. Occasionally we meet a fire that we have to step back from and assume a defensive posture or devise a unique approach to but generally standard operating procedures provide us the framework we need to get our work done. Lacking fire ground SOP's is negligent in my opinion.

While having a good set of SOPs/SOGs is essential, some of those who write them make them far too complex. Some "adapt" exsiting versions without really reading them, some have no correlation to a Department's operations.

My version of SOPs/SOGs would be clear and concise and in bullet point fashion... one does not need the equivalent of Tolstoy's "War and Peace" to sum up on what could be stated on a single page or two.

Chief and Ron,
Thanks for your replies. I agree that SOPs are needed and they need to be easy enough to retain that even under the most stressful situations they can be followed. I was really hoping that someone who does not believe in SOPs would respond because I want to understand the factors in their decision. I almost wish you two didn't post because others may be afraid to speak their opinion now. Trying to think of reasons to not have SOPs, the only one that I can of 'is that each emergency is different and you cant plan for every possible scenario.' While I dont agree with this ideology, I do believe it exist.


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