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A paid firefighter in our company is pushing to change our SOG on the Mayday call. He states we are to use the "Emergency" word. Are there any changes coming down the pike?

Thank you,


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What are you going to use for; water supply problems, found body, evacuate, change from offence to defence, etc? "Important Traffic"?

Why the change. Is it just to be different? This was discussed in an earlier thread. Take a look and see if it works.
Unless I am wrong, the nationally accepted standard is urgent for anything not immediately threatening life and Mayday is for when you are in trouble.

ex. "urgent" there is an outside wall bulging on the Charlie side

ex. "mayday" I am lost and very low on air, unk where I am

Liek the prior post, why change it?
Don't know what nation you are from, but we use Emergency Traffic and MAYDAY Traffic.
I must have misread the original post .. in my nation It's urgent traffic and mayday traffic it all accomplishes the same thing hopefully
Mayday is the nationally accepted standard for calling for help. You should stick with it. Plus what are other departments in your area using that may mutual aid with you or you mutual aid with them. In our area all the departments use Mayday and have the a the same SOG for when to call it so we are all on the same page and know what to expect.
Barry Aptt said:
Unless I am wrong, the nationally accepted standard is urgent for anything not immediately threatening life and Mayday is for when you are in trouble.
ex. "urgent" there is an outside wall bulging on the Charlie side
ex. "mayday" I am lost and very low on air, unk where I am

Liek the prior post, why change it?
This is what we do and seems to be the general consensus in many recent articles. We teach the use of the terms in the same manner, in that you say the word three times before going ahead with the traffic. "Urgent, Urgent, Urgent, we have a live power line down on side 2."
There is a very different place and purpose to utilize a May Day and Urgent Radio Transmission. Stay the course follow your SOP.

"The U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy (NFA) also released a released two mayday courses on one CD-ROM. The courses can be incorporated into Firefighter I and II curricula or used as in-service training for experienced firefighters. The CD-ROM is available to all fire departments and state fire-training academies and can be requested through the USFA’s Publications Center."

May Day - Etymology: French m'aider help me
Date: 1927
—an international radio-telephone signal word used as a distress call


Urgent - Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin urgent-, urgens, present participle of urgēre
Date: 15th century
1 a: calling for immediate attention: PRESSING b: conveying a sense of urgency

I agree with everyone here. Stay with what you have. But, if your department does make a change make sure all members are on the same page and receive the critical training necessary. Do what you can to persuade your member not to re-invent what works so successful in so many other places.

Stay Safe!

-If what you are using is working safely and properly than there is no need to change for the sake of being like another FD.
-The standard for a firefighter down or in trouble is MAYDAY. For radio traffic that is important, urgent, immediate or emergent, there are several different models that different departments use all across the country, despite the pissy, unprofessional comment made to the contrary.
-To transmit this traffic some departments, like FDNY, prefer to preface it with Urgent. Other departments say emergency traffic. I have even read a policy determining that "immediate" is the proper term.
-It all comes down to the specific department and their needs.
-It is appropriate for departments that often work together through mutual aid to use the same terminology.
-Adam made another observation that is important. The precursor to identify the priority should be repeated three times before the message is transmitted; Mayday, mayday, mayday. This insures little room for misinterpretation of the message.
We use Mayday & Urgent for "Emergency Traffic". The mayday applies to members in trouble and has a set of circumstances when to use it. We use the acronym I owe you my total life.
I=Injured member (critical)
O=Collapse occured
U=Unconscious member
M=Missing member
T=Trapped member
L=Lost member
The Urgent is used for emergency traffic pertaining to events on the fire ground and is mainly to gain control of the radio. The acronym we use for urgent is D WIFE
D=Discontinue interior attack
W=Water supply issue/loss of water
I=Injured member(non life threatening)
F=Feared collapse
E=Exposure problems(fire extension)
Of course these work for us and are part of our S.O.P.'s but they are not set in stone and can be altered for other situations. I think its critical that everyone have something in place and that it is interchangeable with companies outside your area M/A. Perhaps a set procedure nation wide is in order?

Keep it simple, as some have already stated:

Mayday should be used and called only by or for a firefighter that is in peril, period. In fact, the word should be held with such reverance and weight that just hearing it causes a physical reaction.

Emergency Traffic pertains to everythig else on the firegrouund that requires immediate notification of all personnel pertaining to the their safety and well being.
I agree with the idea that a MAYDAY should cause a visceral reaction. On another note, one of the regional instructors at the Fire Service Training School gives a lecture about 100 percent correct performance of the basics. Then you are running on muscle memory for the non-thinking stuff like PPE, pulling and flaking hose, safe operation of tools, equipment, ladders, etc. He says, and I agree, that we have enough to think about on the fire ground.
The point of the lecture, after showing some people getting hurt, was that you should have your full PPE on and right, so automatically, that you feel creeped out if you don’t. Same for seeing anyone in the hazard zone that is missing gloves or their hood or their BA. It should make you physically uncomfortable.

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