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     There is a quote by General George Patton that while set in the context of war parallels our battles on the fireground with a lesson on decisive action.  "A good plan violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week."  While not an endorsement to rush into an incident without proper thought or size up, the quote should provide a reality check that we are in the business of delivering the safest and most effective emergency services with the resources available, not the resources "desirable". 

     Some fireground officers and commanders may become focused on checking boxes and establishing all the branches of incident command before actively working to mitigate the incident at hand.  In part this form of tunnel vision may be attributed to thinking of the incident in terms of static goals that stand alone in their relevance to the outcome of the incident.  In reality the fireground is dynamic and the achievement (or lack thereof) of a goal directly affects all other actions at the fire. 

     In other words, waiting to take action until your plan is perfect will have dire consequences for firefighter safety, civilian survivability and property conservation. The initial Incident Commander (first in company officer) must rapidly assess fireground needs and quickly enact a course of action achievable with available resources that will address firefighter and civilian life safety.  Understanding the capability of the first arriving company is key to developing a good plan, and aggressive action under spirited leadership with "violent execution." 

     That "good plan" is situational but may include simple tasks achievable by a single engine company that will have a dramatic impact on life safety and the overall success of the incident.  Stretching the correct size line to the fire, controlling a door to manage flowpath, or raising a ladder to make a rescue.  Any delay in these actions to wait for perfect circumstances to launch a plan could be fatal to a civilian or cause a fire to gain additional ground. 

     For more depth on discussion on the capabilities of first in companies please attend my class at FDIC in April.


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