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small volunteer department, limited number of personnel.  SOG's state command unit all types of fires, even though there may only be 3 people showing up.  which would you want showing up at your house, an engine in a few minutes or a command unit with an engine possibly waiting for crew several minutes?

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Hank, if this is merely a parking sequence issue, I would suggest taking the neccesary steps which would allow your department to park the vehicle securely outside. If it were outside, your department would have the flexibility of sending that vehicle if/when its response is appropriate.


  •  We respond to just under 200 calls annually.  
  • Command unit is a Suburban

Unfortutnately, space is a premium.  It's either in front or behind the engine. 

During the day there is 1-2 part-time staff, due to shortage of personnel and it varies at night.  Sometimes enough, sometimes very minimal.


My original post was created because of the reasoning for parking the command unit in front of the engine.  I agree with all here that SOG's are flexible, but some people here do not understand that. To me it's dangerous showing up without water and not  100% sure you even have a rig rolling out.   



Based upon your stated limitation of the command vehicle (Suburban) being either parked in front of the engine or behind the engine, I would opt for the Suburban behind the engine.  I would much rather have the engine roll with a minimal crew to any/every incident and the Suburban not show up due to being short-staffed, as opposed to the Suburban arriving on scene and the possibility of the engine being later or not arriving at all because it was short-staffed.  Presumably anyone who "missed" the engine can come in the Suburban, other apparatus, or POV if its a worker.

I found some very helpful insights listening to Capt. Bill Gustin's keynote from FDIC 2011 online ( and they may apply to your situation - particularly focusing around the 18 minute mark through the end around "basic engine company operations" (although please listen to this excellent presentation from the beginning for complete context of his statements).  Note the section where he talks about the most basic mission of the fire company is stretching a hose line and operating it on the fire.  If this is my mission, which I believe it is, I'd rather have an engine in ALL circumstances.

As I described in my earlier post, having a chief (in a midsize SUV) going directly to the scene for all calls to size-up works well for our department doing about 400 calls per year since we always get at least one engine out (knock on wood).  Maybe, if you have a long enough apron, the first operator could pull the engine out far enough so if the officer does see sufficient crew s/he could take the command vehicle ahead to the scene while the engine crew dons their gear and responds?

I'm sure its a bit of "we've always done it this way" and/or "I remember that one time back in 19xx where the command vehicle arrived first" so I'm sure you've got quite a challenge on your hands.  Best of luck!  

I think I see the initial point being made, but I cant be sure.

In my department the chief responds directly to the scene for ALL calls, including EMS, to assess the scene and get more info and set up tactical goals, this in my eyes is a necessity.

The assistant chiefs and line officers are urged to respond to the station to get the equipment out the door.  I  think what Hank is saying is this; if there is no one around to get the trucks rolling wouldnt it benefit the dept to have the officers go to the station to drive the trucks?  My thing is, you still need a IC to run the scene, regardless of the type of call.  If you have firefighters doing whatever they feel needs to be done without the proper direction from a trained, experienced officer, its called freelancing, and thats bad stuff.

Sure, if there is no chief around and I roll up to a call as first due officer (captain) I will take control and be IC and direct the crews.  When a chief arrives I turn command over to them.  Conversely, if a chief is running the pump in order to get an initial attack started and another operator shows up I would hope they take over the pump so the chief can be IC.


I suggest taking some ICS courses if you have not already, these explain the process better, and its a process that is needed in order to safely mitigate emergencies.

Be safe everyone.

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