Our ultimate success during any incident is a direct result of the effort applied by available resources. Incidents for which we have adequate resources (personnel, equipment, training) will usually have the most successful outcome possible given the circumstances. How we choose to apply the resources at hand to mitigate an incident is generally the factor of which we have the greatest control once an incident begins. Company officers and chiefs who direct operations from the standpoint of cutting corners and taking short cuts to get by are among the most dangerous people to work for in the fire service. Many times their half measures are just enough to carry the day. Often firefighters get lucky without realizing how close they may be to disaster.
There is an old adage that applies to the fire service as well as anything in life; " if something is worth doing, it's worth doing right." Avoiding common half measures means that firefighters must not cancel additional units before the extent of an incident is determined. Also, wear full PPE and take appropriate hose and tools off the rig even for occupancies prone to numerous alarm activations. When in doubt stretch a line too, the can may be enough, but the time lost waiting for the line can never be regained. Like the initial line at a small fire, the back up line can be left dry if not needed. But stretch it to be sure you are prepared. When opening up be sure to pull enough wall or ceiling to adequately determine fire spread. A half measure of opening up will often mean a return to the scene later that night. Even when the initial companies appear to have a handle on the fire, continue to ladder the building. Not only is it the best drill available, but having all sides laddered may someday avert a mayday for one of our own. When doors are forced be sure they are controlled as the incident requires; open or shut. Maintain proper company integrity at small incidents to ensure it will be practiced at major incidents. Wandering firefighters become lost and trapped firefighters. Park the rig for action or stage at a point of best advantage at all times. Allowing sloppy positioning will someday mean the rig is out of place or unable to ladder the building or supply water.
While the preceding paragraph is by no means all inclusive hopefully it will provoke a conversation as to what half measures may need to be addressed in each jurisdiction. In the fire service a job that is done half way can result in serious ramifications to our own members or the citizens we protect. We owe both groups the full measure of care with each operation we undertake.