Those of us in the fire service who respond with less than the minimum recommended levels of company staffing understand the challenges of arriving short-handed. How do we overcome adversity and leverage our resources to our best advantage? The aggressive application of our capabilities applied to the most urgently needed tactics to achieve life safety is the clear answer. Understanding our capabilities and utilizing our resources efficiently is a challenge. However, expecting too much, or failure to appreciate the amount of work a few well trained, well equipped firefighters can accomplish can be a major strategic error.
The initial arriving company will set the pace, and the balance of the resources arriving in the first 10 minutes of an incident will support those actions. Upon arrival at a working fire the first in engine must evaluate how their resources can best achieve life safety until they can be reinforced to achieve more complete objectives. In the offensive mode even a short-staffed company should be able to stretch a line to a point where a risk/benefit analysis will determine if they should proceed or hold-fast for additional support. Firefighters assigned truck company functions, whether they arrive on a ladder truck or not, can provide important tactical support with immediate rescue over a ladder, rapid small area searches, or coordinated outside ventilation.
The key to leveraging smaller resources lies in knowledge of your capabilities, pro-active policies, realistic training, and coordinated implementation. To discuss this topic in greater depth, please participate in my class at FDIC. Capabilities of Initial Arriving Units in Smaller Jurisdictions. Friday, April 28th, at 0830 in rooms 134-135.
Hope to see you there!