Ok just to give a brief overview of our system and department. We have 4 inch tags that has just the ff name on it. When ff's arrive on scene they are supposed to put there tags on the primary engine. At structure fires we have an average of 40 to 50 ff's. Whether they are in POVs or rode on a piece of apparatus. Thats a lot of ff's to keep up with for a volunteer dept. And as you know everyone wants to be on the hosepipe so its a rush to the attack lines. No one wants to to the dirty work. We have no system other than ffs putting there tags on the engine if they even do that! But even then IC has no idea where his ff's are. How can we control ff's from free lancing and keep them accounted for? Thanks for all the help!
No accountability system, no matter how sophisticated, is going to work until you get a handle on personnel management. Everybody rushing to the attack lines smells like borderline freelancing to me. In my dept you don't leave the area around the attack engine without being assigned a task by the IC. That way your tags can be moved to the appropriate area on our accountability board by whoever is handling accountability.
At face value it sounds like you have a solid foundation for a working accountability system. While there are more technologically advanced systems out there the simple system you have can work. Accountability doesn't have to be high tech to accomplish the goal, knowing where your firefighters are at on scene.
We run a two tag system. First tag stays on the truck you ride in. the second tag goes to the person running accountability when you are assigned a task. Once the task is complete you get your tag back till your next task. The accountability board we use has 8 rings on the sides of a dryerace board. each ring has its own section marked off. If your doing SAR your tag goes on the SAR ring and the time you and your partner(s) went in and what division your on. The two tag system works for us. There are a few deps. in our area that runs the accountability board (same as ours) so we alwayse have someone trained running the board.
That was my first thought: Flog them with TRAINING.
IMO, your biggest problem to start with is ATTITUDE.
This isn't borderline free-lancing.
It's full blown free-lancing.
Either by example or inaction; this is being allowed to happen from the top.
Bring it up the chain of command all the way to your Chief. You mentioned that IC isn't aware of where members are at an incident, so somewhere up the chain they know about it but nothing is being done about it.
You have the elements in place for it (IC) to work, but it needs to come from the top that this free-lancing needs to stop.
I'm sorry, but this is a disaster waiting to happen. Your Chief, or whomever is IC at an incident, needs to take control and hand out assignments, and the men and women of your department need to adhere to their assignments, no freelancing. It makes accountability much easier and effective.
We have 3 tag systems. When you are issued gear a brass tags is given to you that goes on the snaps of the coat that has your name and ID number. The 2nd system is we created a card with your vitals, allergies, medical history, emergency contacts, identifying features such as eye color, hair, weight and height. We all carry 3 of those. Tag 1 and Tag 2 are put on 2 rings in front of the officer the apparatus. When on scene, The ring of tags with the ID of the apparatus goes to command so he knows who is on what apparatus. All the trucks have a command board. If I was command or a sector officer then I would grab my board and report to my sector. When the crews come to me to be assigned I would take their tags and hook them together from that group and clip to the board. Right next to the tags is a box for me to label what their assinment is I sent them to do. Example: Search 1 basement. Then on the next group I could label: Hose Team 1. This way I can keep straight who I have where and update their assignments or location. Our other system is for when we go Mutual Aid to other depts. There are again 2 pieces of plastic with velcro on them in the cab. Each FF cleared for Mutual Aid calls has 3 small plastic tags under the back of their helmet. Each tag says our dept, unit assigned to, and FF name. As the personel get on the truck they hand me two of their tags and I put them on the boards. When we get to the other dept I can give staging or Op's one of my boards with who is on the truck and how many. If we are in staging then moved to action we grab it and give the board to Operations and we still have 1 to give to the sector officer.
First off, if you have that many folks responding, congratulation! We are luck to have 15 on a good day (thank god for mutual aid). If you have the manpower establish an SOP that gives first office either command or pass command to next officer (and assume ops when he arrives) then third officer Safety/Accountability. Hopefully by arrival of third officer things will not be too out of control yet. Also in the SOP every FF must report to accountability (or whoever has the board before accountability is established) and turn in their tag before entering the operational area, PERIOD! Then corral your manpower and allow command or ops to hand out assignments. Sounds like you might have an uphill battle, good luck.
Forgot to mention the reason our one tag system has all the information is if the FF is injured or has to go to the hospital, one of their tags can be given to the ambulance and the vital information is there for them. All they have to do is cut open the lamenated tag.