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How does your department handle critiques of fireground operations? Is it done at the fire scene, the next shift, formally or informally? Does it follow a set agenda or do you just kind of wing it?

In my experience and in talking with some brothers from around the country, it seems that many critiques do not really provide an honest self assessment of the incident and ways to seek improvement. Serious safety breaches from tactics to PPE are downplayed or not even mentioned.

As a member of my local IAFF safety committee, I am especially interested in Union departments and their involvement in assessing firefighter safety during these reviews.

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Bryan, we do ours the next duty so we have time to think what went on. A lot of times in our business we think a critique is a gripe session, but it really is not. As a group we need to talk about what went right, what worked well , what we should differently, and what we should change. Also, if there is something that we may need to add to the truck to make things run smoother. How do you do yours? Todd McKee

It really depends on the shift the fire was on. We have no set format. We've had some really good ones with dispatch tapes, photos, diagrams and exellent discussions of what did hapen and what should have / could have been done. Then there are the ones that don't mention that a firefighter was burned, let alone why it happened. Any suggestions at all are taken personally and seen as a threat and the end result is that nothing is accomplished.

I'm leaning towards recommending a set format to follow so that nothing gets left out and make the review a bit more formal. This way there should be more uniformity between the shifts and commanders. It may also help them prepare better for the review. Nothing fancy but making sure something doesn't get overlooked or glossed over. I would also like to see a safety committee representative from our local at each review so we can ensure safety issues are being voiced and addressed.

I agree these should not be a gripe session nor should anyone let their ego and pride get in the way of making things better.


Sounds like you guys have an organized system. Thanks for your info. I hope to get to the point where anyone on a fireground can address safety issues. Is that a formal SOP or is it "just how it is?"

The time lapse between the incident and the review is a good idea. I have had some reviews at the scene that have been very productive. These seem to be the fires when everything just clicked, a good stop was made and the weather was favorable.

The tone set by your Chief plays a crucial role in an open and honest review of the incident. It great to hear that you guys have such a program.


I like the idea of having a format that is agreed upon by everyone. Co. Officers should have collected all of the information while the facts and impressions are fresh in everyones mind and some time (24 hours or more) should pass so people can have time to think the call through.

After that, it should run like a CISD. There should not be finger pointing and everyone should be allowed to give their thoughts and opinions and have their questions answered without getting beat up.

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