Just got back from Pt 1 of a two part course on "Liability Record Keeping and Report Writing For the Fire Service" and I am wondering if and how those of you who are members of small volunteer departments handle your report writing. Is this something that you even do? If so, when? Do you take the time when you get home at 3:00am to write things down or do you wait til the next day and hope things are still fresh in your mind?

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I agree with keeping a personal journal, for a variety of reasons. Moatly to recap incidents and for references of information down the road. Depending upon your department activity levels, you will respond to thousands...hundreds, or dozens of incidents during your years with the fire service. It's always refreshing to look at where you were ten years ago. If Stapleton didn't keep such detailed journals, we would have all missed out on some pretty entertaining, and informative insight.

But as for the actual incident report writing, I agree with 'FETC'. It's the IC's responsibility, and in some cases the OIC, or company officer. Remember, when you take training courses that may be given by private instructional companies, it may all be the subject of opinion, but hopefully informed opinion. In some cases the whole issue of liability is grossly exaggerated.
Never really thought of it ... but I suppose any document is subject to subpeona under the right circumstances. Hmmmm ... must look into Canadian privacy laws!

In answer to your question: my personal journal does not have anything to do with the class. It only came up because I was asking if anyone kept any type of informal record (or I should probably say notes) of their calls and was using it as an example. Many other things are in there as well, not just calls.
And, yes, I do mean in a mental health/debriefing type way. NOT that it takes place of our department debriefs but it helps when we don't have them. The journal is something I started back in university as an assignment but then just kept it going since then.
"In some cases the whole issue of liability is grossly exaggerated."

Yup. That is what I was thinking ....

When I reread my initial post I realize that using the actual term "incident report" was probably wrong and misleading. I was actually trying to ask about personal notes ... when do you write them and in what format? That type of thing.
Seems silly for a small department in such a rural area of Canada to be concerned about liability issues with report writing. It even seem a little sillier that yourself, a one-year probationary volunteer firefighter would even care. You simply don't have the call volume or intensitiy to warrant any concerns nor the time on the job to even consider this an issue.

With that said, and to answer your question from a left coast department perspective, we all use the same program called Firehouse. The reporting format satisfies both the national and state fire reporting requirements for fire and ems incidents. There is a lot of information that is required and the reports take forever if there is actually a fire. EMS reports are done by ONLY the attending paramedic. I do the fire reports as the station Captain but have no access to the EMS module. These reports are done before I go home in the morning because my memory is fresh and the PIO takes information for putting together press releases when appropriate. If there is a hazmat release then a whole different can of worms is opened up and many agencies are sent data files as a result. Welcome to litigious California...

On a side note, when I was visiting friends in northern Arizona, I stopped by a Flagstaff FD station and discovered that they too, in fact the entire state was using the exact same program as my department.

Finally, every fire station keeps a daily log or journal in the "Red Book". This covers all activities from 08:00 to 08:00, 24-hour shifts... This has been going on in fire stations since the 1800's for sure. You can even buy a NYFD Station 1894-1895 House Daily Journal, Engine Company No. 25, ... for $750.00 online...

As far as our personal journal, as a writer, I say go girl! You will enjoy looking back at your experiences as your career in the fire service matures. And as far as having your journal become a supoena item, well... again, you just don't run enough calls or have the same types of population / socio-economic concerns as the larger departments so this too is a non-issue in my opinion.

CBz
Now it makes sense! I was wondering what you were trying to get at, questioning the single, actual incident report, hahaha.

I do carry a pen and note pad around in my jump bag, but I rarely take notes or write my own personal essay of the incident. I suppose I should start, seems like a good habit.
Here in New York we use the NFIRS (National Fire Incident Reporting System) that goes to the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control. It is done on line. It is usually done off an in house work sheet that the officer in charge of the incident or designee makes out. A lot of the time I do it because of my work in Law Enforcement has made me anal about documenting everything. One of the motto's I have had burned into my memory is if you don't have it written down you didn't do it. Don't be afraid to over document , law suits can come years later and I don't recall is not something your attorney is going to what to hear you say on the witness stand. If you want I'd be happy to send you a copy of our work sheet.

As far as to remembering every think that is why debriefings are a good thing to do, others may remember things that happened that you may not have seen done or remember happening. This is why it is also a good reason for you I.C. (Incident Commander ) to have a scribe if one is available that way what gets said and done can be remembered for report writing time. Also if you you are the one doing the report writing you may want to have who ever is going to sign off on it look it over before you say it's done.
we do ours when we get back after a call.

logging information for a call is often spotty at best when using a paper system.

many of the people are not trained properly to fill out the forms either on paper or on the computer.

this leaves spotty information that needs to be tracked down and verified in order to properly document it.

debriefing while is very good in many cases people do not hang around for very long after returning to the hall.

That is changing! My chief and I are going to be training everyone on proper documentation, we are encouraging people to note down anything of significance because many eyes see a lot more than one pair.

personal conflict has nothing to do with it.

because of limited personnel more often than not the radio room is untended.

This is going to change!

we will still have the paper forms until everyone has been trained in the computer program, but the paperwork must be filled out properly.

We fill out the report on paper as soon as we get back, or at the scene. Then we have a couple members (including me) who enter them into the image trend elite system that our state requires for reporting.

Biggest thing for me is teaching and reminding members to fully complete the paper report since I can’t be at every call. ;)

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