By Ray McCormack
Having the opportunity to create a fire assessment is not something that is just relegated to a promotional exam. Your opportunity to assess is there at every fire you attend. While a 360 may or may not be part of your pre-entry actions, there is still plenty to take in just from the front. The sides may be blank, and the rear might be done via radio. No assessment is a solitary event.
Depending upon your rank, your assessment needs to include more than just smoke reading, consider: life, rescue, extinguishment methods and entry decisions. While all of the arriving firefighters need to note this intel quickly - while performing other operational tasks that lead to stabilization - the amount of time spent on various aspects of the assessment differ with rank and assignment.
The assessment by a firefighter that handles 'truck work' is different than those bound to the task of extinguishment. This is just how it is: the brain is trained to look at different features due to indoctrination, repetition, and area of responsibility.
While we all believe the incident commander (IC) is taking in the 'big picture,' that may not be the case, especially if they can not see the fireground. If that is the reality, radio reports will have to fill in many blanks - Talk about old school! LMFAO.
Could you imagine bringing a fire photographer to the fire and telling them that staging a block away truly provides the best "picture" of the fire? Talk about progressive fire scene management! LMFAO.
If the amount of time taken for the assessment is too long, it can lead to incident decline and paralysis by analysis. Many fireground incidents are mismanaged, not because of a lack of effort, but a lack of know-how. Those that scoff at standardization, when the majority of the fire district contains similar structures, are inviting fireground troubles that flourish. This is based on a lack of planning, and beliefs that all fires are different. Fires are so different in our area that you can't have a plan, you have to be flexible! LMFAO.
Fires at their core are not different, they cover portions of building, spread and they endanger lives and properties. The way they are extinguished may vary, except for the fact that hose lines need to be stretched and nozzles opened into rooms to put fires out. Use your situational awareness at every fire, even the different ones, and don't get caught up in a tactical safety lapse by "LYourFAO."
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