This blog is in no way a replacement of or supercedes any and/or all Fire Department S.O.P./S.O.G.'s, or replace training in regards to fire ground operations.  This topic is to give a general understanding to firefighters in hopes to promote firefighter safety and improve fire ground operations.

Please follow your Fire Department's S.O.P./S.O.G.'s.



As a new Lieutenant that has only been in the job for four months now, I am still remembering this question usually asked by the Captain's or Chief's before we would roll the trucks out of the station and once again after getting on scene of an incident that we had been paged out too.  I now get the pleasure of seeing the look of surprise that comes from me asking the question now, such looks as the "What? You want me to do your job?" or the "I am going in on the line!" look as they start pulling crosslays off.  Now I can see why the Captain's and the Chief (with many bugles) wanted to start beating me over the head with spanner wrenches, hydrant wrenches,  or whatever they could get their hands on at the time. Today we will go over some of the basic reasons and ways of doing a 360 walk around of a scene.


Why do we need to do a 360 walk around of a scene? 

First and foremost we need to do this for safety of fire service personnel and victim safety.  The old days of the "Kick it in, Spray it down, and Haul it out!" type mentality should just only be a memory to some veteran fierfighters, however it tends to pop up in younger firefighters as a shortcut or a fast wrap up of an incident especially near the end of a shift.  This raises the question, "Who will rescue the victims, if the rescuers need rescued?"  Again, "Who will rescue the victims, if the rescuers need rescued?"

If the flashing LED light and Q2 siren went off in your head, GOOD, I have your attention, if not please stay near a fire apparatus at all times or talk with your Training Officer or one of the Senior Officers to have them explain the importance of doing a 360 degree walk around of a scene.

If you value your life, then you can value a victims life. We have to remember that life safety comes first, and property conservation second.  One good reason for doing a 360 is to establish safety zones, so that non-victims(civilians) are kept away from the area, and fire service personnel know what level of PPE(Personal Protective Equipment) should be donned(put on) prior to entering the safety zone.  There are other good reasons to performing a 360 which will be discussed as we continue. 


When is the best time to do a 360 walk around?

As soon as the first apparatus arrives on scene, the first of many walk arounds should be conducted to get a better size up of the incident.  Majority of the Fire Departments have S.O.P./S.OG.'s that have firefighters walking around the apparatus before leaving the station to ensure that there is nothing blocking the truck, all compartments/doors are shut and secure, before moving the apparatus out the station door. {One of the reasons why citizens scrutinize the FD's because we tend to look like we came from the circus running around in circles all the time}  If this practice is conducted routinely, then doing a 360 on the fire ground will be second nature to the firefighters responding to calls.  Plus it never hurts to stop and conduct 360's during fire ground operations at various times to check and make sure the scene is still safe to operate in. If there is any change, report it immediately to the I/C.


How do you conduct a 360 walk around?

There are several ways to conduct a 360, I will discuss what I use to complete a 360. First, I need to choose a Scene Size Up method, if you don't know what a Scene Size Up method is please contact your Training Officer or a Senior Officer of your FD to educate you in this practice. Using the front of the building as a starting point, like a square four sides will identified as A-Alpha, B-Bravo, C-Charlie, and D-Delta, I label the front as Side A(Alpha), and walk clockwise around the building looking for victims, smoke, fire, utilities disconnect points and any potential hazards that may hinder fire ground operations. Once I have walked around the building and are now back at Alpha, I need to report what I have seen to the I/C(Incident Commander).


What is accomplished by doing a 360 walk around?

There are three things that get accomplished when a proper 360 is conducted:

1) Victims-Where they are at and what is needed to rescue them.

2) Fire-Where is the fire located and what is it doing?

3) Utilities-Turn these off IMMEDIATELY: Electrical boxes, Gas meters/Propane Tanks, and water service.

As you can see the multi task capability will allow you to locate victims, locate fire, and shut off utilities to keep gas and electricity from continuing fire growth and spread. As well as to safe guard fire service personnel from being electricuted by water and live power lines inside the structure.  Further, it will let the first in team know which way they need to head to get to the seat of the fire to start suppression tactics, and as well as let search and rescue teams know which way to get to victims trapped inside.

How to report a 360 to the I/C

There are mulitiple ways of doing this, for me personally, I prefer a face to face with the I/C so that way they know that the 360 has been done and that they know who has done the 360.  You have to remember, the I/C has been busy talking with people on the scene getting info about the incident and calling for additional resources to get to the scene to mitigate the incident. Report the three major topics, 1) victims, 2) fire, and 3) utilities which were discussed ealier.  Make sure the I/C repeats back what you just reported to them so both of you understand what was done during the 360, especially if you could NOT turn off Gas supplies or Electrical services.


The 360 degree walk around can assist firefighters in controlling and mitigating scenes safely, day or night. You can assess the scene with a simple walk around looking at the whole 360 degree picture and be able to answer the question, "Did you do a 360 walk around?"

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