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The members of your department skill set starts when they enter the service. Through their recruit or initial training they begin to build a foundation that will carry them through their career. This training and education is the foundation they will build upon.

Just like a home, the foundation is only the beginning. Through training, education, experience of others passed down and being lead not managed they begin to become well-rounded functioning firefighters.

The department's standard operating procedures (SOP's) or standard operating guidelines (SOG's) are the most important document for your departments operations. These documents are extremely important and valuable to the members of the department and the community. This is where the tactical decisions all members make starts.

The SOP's or SOG's are the foundation for your department’s tactical objectives, response criteria, daily activities, training, special situations and every part of the operations. A well-written comprehensive document will assure consistency in all tasks and operations. Everything starts and ends with the SOP's or SOG's. The SOP's and SOG's should be written and utilized as guidelines. There should be built in flexibility for officers to adapt their plan based on the situation if safe and justifiable.

These documents need to be taken off the shelf, reviewed and updated (if necessary) on a regular basis. Ideally your department has a committee who meets regularly to handle the review and rewrite (if necessary). This process should be fluid and constant. Many committees have stated "as soon as we finish we have to start over at page one again". The review process can be long and tedious. But, at the end of the day it's worth the time, effort and energy.

A compressive review does not mean simply changing the date. It also doesn't mean the document must be changed! Take a look at your SOP's or SOG's and look at the revision date. What's that date? Is it current?

Take a look at the below photos which were taken of SOP's/SOG's that are currently in place. Which document would you rather work with?

The management of the department is failing the members, their families and the community if your documents are not current.



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