The fire service is without any shadow of argument one of the most if not the most dangerous entities. I thought this small article might help some people look at certain situations we get ourselves into a little differently.

Tactical Mistakes We Can't Afford To Make

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I browsed through this article prior to the comments made and just read the article more thoroughly before commenting. I agree with Capt jak in regards to having some good information, but not to take things as gospel. I find several aspects here that have absolutely nothing to do with tactics and moreso issues that are there even before the tones ever drop.


Leadership is one huge aspect that sticks out and that is something that should be addressed before a rig ever rolls out of the station. While true, a white helmet does not make a leader, neither doesou may a couple bars or trumpets, etc. One concern on leadership is how a dept does promotions. Is it seniority, is it testing, is it testing with seniority, is is appointment, is is by voting? Out of all those, IMO, voting is the weakest form, because in many cases, it becomes a popularity contest as opposed to knowledge and merit. Now granted, it doesn't mean there aren't those who sit on a rank and never do anything more to keep skills or warrant their position, especially when you have newer and younger personnel eager to learn and thus apply skills. IMO, this is something that needs to be addressed before a call ever goes out and that is determined by how people work while training, dept activities etc. For most fulltime depts, there is a system in place and it isn't a vote that one makes rank.


Another aspect is the IC. The first arriving officer should take command, unless a more senior officer arrives at the same time. If this means a younger FF riding the first due seat happens to be command, so be it, but command should be passed to a more senior officer once they arrive. Regardless of what one has for qualifications, or their grasp of NIMS, certs and so forth, command should be going to a more senior officer. If that officer doesn't have the same grasp of IC, or weak in the role, then perhaps they should not be holding an officer position....thus going back to the leadership aspect.


I was concerned to see an example of both offensive and defensive tactics at the same time. This should not happen, anywhere, if it does, that is a reflection of a weakness in leadership at a dept level, or if an isolated case, then this is where there is a obligation by those operating on the fireground to speak up. This falls under one of those interview questions of "What do you do if you are given an order you feel is unsafe".....If you are being ordered inside with defensive ops going on, then question the order and air your concern. If you are outside and know there are people inside and ordered to spray water in, then speak up and inform the IC there are people inside.


If there is freelancing or an utter lack of control, again this reflects upon the dept and the leadership therein. There should be no doubt that the IC is in command, allowing crews to do whatever they want is not only weakness by the IC, but the dept's leadership. Such issues should be addressed immediately by the chief.



Training is another aspect that does merit concerns addressed, but not everything can be chalked back to training. Foremost is one has to attend training, but it is also a matter of type of training. How often does training consist of watching a video, or talking about something, or even training on the newest and latest fad out there, even if the chance of the dept actually doing it is slim at best? How often does the training get back to the basics like laddering, hose control and advancing, force entry? Then again, how often does the opportunity present to train on this realistically? It is good to train and hone such skills and develop a muscle memory, but if always training at the station, or burn tower, the aspect of "simulating" can start to take over. If marking doors for a search is considered a "tactical concern", how often does one really remember to do it, if they aren't doing it for real?

From the article:

Marking doors is mentioned.....Perhaps, but I don't see the lack of this as a big contributor to LODDs. Sure it is a very good thing to do, but one should consider the building, staffing, and so forth. If you are working with say a 1 story ranch, or 2 story house and your search team reports a search complete, why are you sending crews back in where there is a LODD potential?


Wrong hose selection....Couldn't agree more


Too many personnel inside....Depends. If you have a team inside, you should be having a back-up team with them. This is situation dependant, and don't necessarily see this as a tactical mistake for LODDs.


RIC....Agree, they should be there and ready to go if there are any interior ops.


No Egress...There is a point here, but I'm leery on the use of the word "Never". This is a situation dependant aspect that the word "never" doesn't account for. This should be a matter of size up, and there are also means to address this if it may need be....such as cutting a hole in a wall etc...converting a window to a door.


No fire behavior training....Sure I agree


Overuse of the radio....Yes, again agree...think of what you want to say before you key a mike and keep the message simple and brief as possible. Save the details for a face to face with the IC.


MAYDAY....I agree, but I disagree on the pride aspect alone. There are many reasons why a MAYDAY is not called and pride is just another factor of it. Personally, if one is going to write an article on tactical mistakes and LODDs, I would think a bit more time would be spent on the MAYDAY aspect....factors that can affect making the call, events to call a MAYDAY. The difference between an EMERGENCY TRAFFIC situation and a MAYDAY. How to practice calling a MAYDAY, what to say and so forth.


Sounding the floor.....Sure, to a point. The reality is that not all flooring is going to give you that indication of fire below, or appear soft. With tiling and in floor heating, and other flooring products out there today, it is quite possible you get a solid floor indication from a sounding, only to have fire burning underneath you. It is good practice to do, but isn't always as reliable that the article makes it out to be. The use of a TIC could be better suited.



Some things not mentioned:


Using a TIC and the improper use was not mentioned in the article, but should be. Know the TIC and the operation of it, know how to "sweep" a room.


Use of PPV after crews already went inside without having fire knocked down.


Improper use of ventilation



I think this article gives some good things to think about, but omits quite a bit more. Some of the issues mentioned here are more tasked based concerns...line choice, sounding a floor, marking doors, as opposed to a tactical issue. It seems most of this article dealt more along the lines of poor leadership, weak IC, differing opinions, etc examples as opposed to tactical considerations.

of course nothing ever goes textbook at any callout, but that is how its supposed to work lol


We simply keep making the same mistakes over and over. I'm guilty too, but I've been lucky.

Who said, "I'd rather be lucky than good any day?" Some football coach. Luck isn't enough in this line of work.

Training hard and frequently is the best way to make lasting impressions.

Each day we must raise the bar a fraction of an inch higher.

Sam, your article is excellent. Thanks for posting it.

Thank you very much. I can't lie one of my first calls as a firefighter years ago I held a pike pole the wrong way and was rushing it to a crew member when I had to stop for an obsticle and next thing I know my assistant chief is on the ground because he was running behind me and I ended up giving him a nice bruise with the pike pole. We all are guilty of making fixable mistakes.

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