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In the fire service training books, lectures and HOT classes we always hear about communications. If you "see something say something" Chief John Salka (FDNY) has just written in another trade magizine. While in another article, Chief Vince Dunn ( Ret. FDNY) countered with a suggestion on what command should do when something is said.
The question is; what should we say? What should we report to command? Do firefighters working without the guidance of officers (like on the roof) have the rights to report? And what should they talk about?
It seems that many times, in the Close Calls and Niosh reports, the near miss or firefighter deaths can be traced back to someone knowing something, but not actually reporting it in a timely manner. Maybe they just didn't know what to say. Maybe they didn't know what they saw. This also goes directly to the coordinated fire attack. EVERYONE goes home, right?

Do you find that this to be a problem on the fire ground?
If so, what are the critical communciations on the fire ground that MUST be done during an interior operation? Also, what must be reported to change attack modes in your department?
Do our "Back To Basic" programs address this problem adequately? For the good of the whole operation?
Does the IC need to make EVERY DECISION on the fire ground?

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Replies to This Discussion

I think that there should be a FF that goes to the rear in most cases. Here's why. Lots of times there is more to do than just size up in the rear. Windows need to vented and sometimes civilains need to be pulled out of upper floor windows. If an officer, that must be at the front of the building to lead the the FF's inside, is in the back he either can;t do these thngs because he needs to get to the front or is delayed to the front because he is perfroming these duties. If there are enough companies to send a an entire crew to the rear to look that is better than all of the above.

Great discussions by all, I agree with majority of everyone's responses.  In my department, we have attempted to at least show personnel how to use the radio, what to say, etc., however, there are plenty of personnel who either do not say enough or say entirely too much.  As far as the community, our commanding officer, a chief in charge of four stations, will NOT switch to a fireground channel, which a lot of us have argued multiple times that we should place a lot of the communications on the tactical channels, simply to relocate a lot of the chatter which ties up the main frequency we often use.  The chief who refuses to use a secondary frequency states due to our communications center not recording said channels, in the event of a mayday or other life threatening situation, he is afraid no one will hear said frequency.  Of course, I agree on the simple fact of the potential of missing a mayday or other life threatening situation, however, there could be a way to monitor both frequencies, as many municipalities around our first due use secondary channels.  This same chief, has been known even when the communications are on a single frequency to not answer his radio.  On one incident, I was a back up member on the initial hand line, and attempted to call out to command multiple times to advise the bulk of the fire was knocked, we were checking for extension, and asking for the sprinkler system to be shut down, after multiple call outs prior to giving said report, I was approached by another chief who simply asked what I had and relayed the message directly to the communications center and asked the dispatcher to place the information on the notes portion of our printout.  Upon completion of additional assignments, at the request of the chief who relayed my messages, I then exited the building to go through the rehabilitation process and was approached by the highest chief who rather than begin to ask appropriate questions, he decided to scream at me as if I burned the structure down and lost lives, of course, I never backed down, and simply asked without raising my voice, where he was when I called out to him five times, he stated "Oh I turned my radio off and walked around the building."  I then stated a 360 was already performed, and while I can appreciate his wishing to gain a view of his own, he needed to keep his radio on and retain communications upon assuming command from the chief he assumed command from.  The initial chief who had command stated all information was conveyed to the communications center and such, rather than taking command from the initial chief as soon as he did, the higher chief should have potentially completed all his assessments prior to assuming command.  This is still an argument with said chief who was hired by a council under the mayor and they would rather politics play a role rather than hearing multiple letters from personnel and companies stating there is a lack of leadership or a lack of faith in his operations so to speak.  As far as most communications, all members are requested to provide information to their immediate supervisors rather than tying up the radio in order to basically have their voice heard on the radio.  If there is some type of life threatening emergency, that member with a portable is able to get that message out without transferring the information to a supervisor. 

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