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The 360 Degrees of Safety

The dynamic management of risk is all about effective, informed and decisive decision making during all phases of an incident. The definition of a dynamic risk assessment is: “The continuous process of identifying hazards, assessing risk, taking action to eliminate or reduce risk, monitoring and reviewing, in the rapidly changing circumstances of an Operational incident.”

The fireground often has competing or conflicting incident priorities, demands or distractions before a complete appreciation of all mission critical or essential information and data has been obtained. The effective assessment of the incident scene is much more than the three-sided size-up methodology of past fireground practices. In fact the term size-up doesn't align with the newest directions in firefighter safety and incident command management.

The 360 degree assessment has become the generally accepted standard from which risk assessment is performed and incident action plans derived. The fact that many LODD case studies and reports repeatedly indicate the lack of an effective 360 degree assessment of the incident scene where structural fire engagement is being initiated was a contributing factor or may have contributed to a different incident outcome. The Prince Williams County, VA LODD Report from the April 16, 2007 Marsh Overlook fire that claimed the life of Firefighter Kyle Wilson is attached to reinforce one aspect of effective dynamic risk assessment, by operating companies and personnel.

Are you using a 360 Degree concept in your strategies and tactics? If not, Why?

What practices and methods are you using as a Commanding Officer or Company Officer to perform a 360 degree assessment of the incident scene and building at a structure fire?

What are some of the key elements and factors that you are looking for?

What’s worked and what hasn’t?

Remember: All command and supervisory personal and operating companies must be able to recognize and appreciate the risks which are present at an incident in order to carry out an effective dynamic risk assessment. The 360 Degree assessment is a mission critical element for effective and safety incident operations.
Don’t for one minute think, it takes too long to perform or that you don’t have time to conduct, especially from a company officer perspective when your deploying tactical assignments. That extra minute to conduct a 360 may make all the difference in the world…..

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