The Sunday Preach:
...Clear, Concise and Consistent
We give much of our training on 'tactical' issues. Be it hose stretches, laddering, forcible entry, search... but when was the last class or training that you received on radio usage. Whether you are talking on the apparatus radio's to give on scene reports or on a portable radio giving a status report after taking a lap, the message has to come through clear, concise and be consistent with policy, procedure and what is actually transpiring!
"Regardless of the affiliation or pay status, how many times have you listened to a radio transmission that sounded more like an appeal for approval of a decision versus a command statement of action or resources needed?
“Truck 8 to Communications, when Engine 27
arrives have them go to side Charlie and check it.”
Why would you want a person sitting in an office chair 30 miles away with no visual idea of what you are dealing with to relay an order for you that is not clear in its purpose (fig. 4–3)? Is the above order to check that there is a backside of the building or if it is on fire? What would the dispatcher respond with if Engine 27 asks what they want them to check? All are valid questions that steal more radio traffic because we did not deliver a clear directive and we involved a third party (dispatch).
Whenever a firefighter, company officer, or chief officer decides to reach down and key up the microphone, consider the classic Mark Twain quote, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” (page 33).
Without effective and efficient communication on the fireground, we are destined for a poor outcome and possibly worse. Poor and/or inadequate communications, lack of command and control had been documented as a commonly seen thread in our 'fireground deaths', in fact they are 2 of the 5 in the NIOSH top 5 of LODD's.
Each portable radio on your apparatus costs around $5,000.00. This is quite a large financial investment in any department. With this capital investment needs to come some personal investment. Take some time in training your people how to utilize this tool to its maximum, tell them what YOU want to hear (and not hear) on the radio. Tell them what they should be listening for (and not listening for) in reports and fireground activity. Train them to understand and how to deliver clear, concise and consistent messages.
Communications is a critical component in fireground successes!