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Brown Card IC Training

How much training have your command officers actually received in commanding incidents? Oh yeah, don’t tell me they have completed the NIMS 100, 200 and 700 online. This is not to diminish the importance of NIMS training but if that all you give your folks along with having an incident command SOP or SOG then you can count yourself among the departments that are participants in the Brown Card Command Certification Program (BCCCP). There is actually no card issued but during an incident the brown stains in the under garments of the commander suffice as proof of certification. Commanding incidents is a skill (like forcible entry or search) that is learned through study and practice, practice, practice and mastered through experience. Online NIMS training does not prepare you for the everyday structure fires, special operations and hazmat incidents.

What qualifications do the officers of your department have to meet in order to be placed in a position to command an incident? I bet you have 25 criteria in place before they can drive an apparatus, 100 in place before they can start an I.V., 1000 in place before they can install a car seat but what about being in charge of 30-40 guys in a fast paced, dynamic incident full of unknowns where their decisions could be the difference in life or death. Not to mention a 2nd or 3rd alarm incident. 

Fire Chiefs’ don’t panic yet…….Even though you may not have any training of substance in place, as long as you have that SOP your department can take refuge behind it and throw the incident commander under the bus. Yesterday’s hero is today’s villain if the organization needs protecting.

STOP SETTING OUR PEOPLE UP TO FAIL!!! Provide realistic training, education and opportunities for gaining experience so that we can succeed at our jobs. If not, all our IC’s will be just one incident away from a career ending, life destroying decision. Stop promoting career fire administrators and putting them in positions that require them to command incidents. Stop thinking that anyone can command an incident as long as they work for the fire department. Invest in those already doing the job. Make sure they are up to date with the latest fire technology, fire science and case study. I don't know that you can ever master "incident command" so we all need constant development (I'm not talking about sitting us down in a room and showing us PowerPoint slides for a week). Can I get some simulations up in here please!!!!!!! Oh wait, please make sure the people running the simulations are real incident commanders and not just the guy assigned to the training academy because he/she was next on the list.

When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout!

Special thanks to Captain John Hunt,(ret) for reminding me of that saying last night while attending a retirement dinner.


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