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I am a BIG believer in SOGs (or, SOPs depending on your Department). Standard Operating Guidelines are the foundation for how we approach most incidents and a baseline for what is expected of us as firefighters. Although it is up to ALL of us to follow and uphold our Department's SOGs, I'm putting this commentary on the Officers. Rules and guidelines are just frivolous words if they're not enforced, reviewed, and updated as needed. SOGs should be a living document that changes with the many challenges of today's firefighting, not a relic with outdated direction.

All that being said, it was a blast to tie in this month's commentary with my favorite time a year. NW Ohio turns into a magical place in the Fall and Halloween is just the icing on a techno-colored cake. I will be posting seasonal illustrations for the remainder of this year just to add a little spice and fun to my constant poking and prodding:) Happy (and safe) Halloween, everyone!!

To see more of my work or to purchase prints, visit:


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Comment by Paul Combs on October 22, 2010 at 7:54am
@ Captain Cashen: It was great to read your point about listening and learning from your students. All too often I come across instructors that "demonstrate" a technique, but never "teach" the technique, and are too closed minded to learn a better way of "performing" the technique from a student with a unique insight. I teach ground ladders and assist with ventilation classes at our Academy. Over the years, the amount of information that I have learned from students who are roofers, home builders, construction workers, and electricians is invaluable! Instructors must learn to listen, too - and remember that we don't walk on water just because the back of our shirt reads "Instructor". Hmmm, sounds like a great topic for an editorial cartoon:)

Sorry to get off topic! SOGs, think SOGs...
Comment by Paul Combs on October 22, 2010 at 7:26am
@ David LeBlanc: Just read your article The Triangle of SOPs, and loved it! Especially the “Mother, may I” mentality, which I see much too often. Great job!
Comment by Bobby Halton on October 20, 2010 at 10:38am
Charley, well said, WOW that is the best teaching advice anyone could get. I do not understand the last question, sorry old guy, what do you mean: To end let me just ask, has anyone, and their dept. ever built a fire station near an ongoing fire?
Comment by Charley Cashen on October 20, 2010 at 10:25am
Not everyone gets their chance to bat in the, creating SOP's, game. It seems there are a lot of good people who, by no fault of their own, are just destined to be the ones that follow what others write. Too often fire administrators create SOP's that just don't work and hold those tasked with carrying those SOP's forward accountable when they fail. With which ever you decide to use, be it SOP's or first due I.C., comes a responsibility of the administration to not only train to that expectation but to demonstrate exactly what is expected. In other words don't hand the stone tablets down from the towers and expect us to know what your intent was. Please feel free to share your opinions of my response here,ie, tell me I'm full of shift. As an instructor I've found it is incumbent to not only teach the how to's but the why's and when's also. You should also keep an open mind while teaching because all too often you learn from the students execution that have taken on a personality of their own with your instruction. To end let me just ask, has anyone, and their dept. ever built a fire station near an ongoing fire? Remember to give your knowledge freely when asked and forcefully when needed to insure a safe outcome for ll involved. C
Comment by Bobby Halton on October 20, 2010 at 9:52am
Paul Combs hits another homerun, do you use SOG's to direct inital fireground ops or is your system running on first in officer directs the response or a combination of both? I spoke at the Brunacini Blue Card conference this week and asked if the practice of the first due "assuming command " was necessary for all systems. Got some great feedback, about 50/50 depending on resources and type of organization, what is going on with your organization and is it working?
Comment by Paul Combs on October 19, 2010 at 12:34pm
I totally agree - the right attitude makes all the difference!
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 19, 2010 at 12:30pm
Never what to over enforce, but I won't let them get complacent, that trap is always baited by Mr. Murphy. Really it's all about the right attitude, whoops another cartoon for another day! :-)
Comment by Paul Combs on October 19, 2010 at 12:25pm
Yeah, I guess one could be an SOG Nazi and over-enforce the rules, too - but that's another cartoon for another day!:)
Comment by Jeff Schwering on October 19, 2010 at 12:23pm
Another great Job Paul! I know foks like this. You could make the devil for a boss that supervises and enforces the rules Bro, I'll send you my smilin face! LOL
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