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  • Assignments in the volly world

    This is something that has been floating around in my old noggin for quite a while and I can't seem to get a handle on it. In our paid brethren's world, incident assignments are given based on unit and sometimes seats on the unit to allow more efficient and faster operations on the fire-ground. This allows the IC to concentrate on the other 100 things they have to concern themselves with on a incident. This is such a common occurrence that most incident command classes start all their exercises with how many of each type of apparatus and the crew size on a unit as a given. Not to pick on our brothers and sisters in municipal departments, but even the articles and presentations concerning "low" or "short" staffing still assumes that ICs will know how many firefighters are coming, when they will there, and what they can do. We volly's, however, know that, in our version of incident command, the first questions to answer may not be "Should we go interior?" or "Where and how should we vent?", but "Can we go interior?" and "Do we have the personnel that can vent?". It's like the difference between "Where's the closest hydrant?" and "Is there a hydrant?" I know many departments do not allow POVs and require firefighters to ride in on an apparatus, but how long are you going to wait for that fourth person to fill up the engine when someone's house is on fire? I also know that this is tied to the ongoing recruitment and retention issues volunteer departments face. (We have NEVER had enough help.) The reason for this post and the question for today is this: Has anyone found a system for volunteer response that allows for some form of pre-assignment of resources so that we can get working faster and allow our ICs to handle the bigger problems?
    Kevin Sink
    Fair Grove Fire Dept.
    Thomasville, NC USA
    [email protected]

  • #2
    I feel your pain.

    Most departments around here used to be able to handle a "first alarm" all by themselves. Now three or four departments get toned out in hopes there will be a reasonable response. Sometimes those mutual aid departments never get a truck out the door. And sometimes a mutual aid department ends up first-due because the home department has no staffing available.

    The concept of seat assignments hasn't garnered a very positive response here. Folks can't seem to wrap their heads around "if you're in the right bucket, you've got the nozzle," etc. Never mind not getting enough help to fill all four seats (as you noted), sometimes the folks who do show aren't really qualified to sit in some seats (as you also noted).

    I ran into a lot of pushback when I tried to institute seat assignments in my department. One person even suggested that the new guy ought to be able to sit in the officers seat because it's more exciting and will help keep him around... Another questioned what happens if Firefighter Snuffy doesn't make the call - who gets to sit in the right bucket?

    If you can get the buy-in, assign functions to the seats - Driver, Officer, right bucket as nozzle, left bucket as hydrant/door, etc. But people have to understand (and buy into) that the interior firefighter that just walked in the door means they have to move out of the right bucket (if they aren't interior), and sitting in the officer's seat is more than just running the siren and the air horns.

    Something that is done inconsistently here is reporting staffing on the apparatus when calling enroute. This can be an important tool for the IC - if Podunk goes enroute with no interior, they're getting water supply, even if they'll be first in (they could handle the "hard from the yard" while the second due sets up).

    Good Luck!
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

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    • #3
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      • #4
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        • #5
          Short answer is no, for all of the issues that have been listed above. FWIW our dept is rural and we run approx. 80-90 calls/yr. Mostly MVAs and medical. Of our responding personnel (notice the caveat there) we all know each other pretty well. Our strengths and weaknesses. When we get to the station, based on the call, someone (typically most experience with the given call type) naturally assumes command. Task assignments will happen enroute. If we have other personnel show, they should radio ahead to first due while enroute and try to establish expectations for when they get on scene.

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