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Truck assignment based on seating position

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  • Truck assignment based on seating position

    Morning folks,

    I was recently listening to a good 2-part webcast from Fire Engineering called "Truck Company Operations Without the Truck." One of the points made by the speaker was the importance of having pre-assignments based on FF seating positions in the truck. For example, the rear-passenger side position carries irons/water-can, the rear-driver side throws ladders, etc. This could be for truck companies, engine companies, or smaller depts that don't have formal engine or truck companies.

    Anyhow, I was just wondering if there are any fire depts (especially small volunteer depts) that practice this, as I like the idea. My small volly dept doesn't do this - it's up the officer (front right seat) or driver to assign these tasks en route. I'd like to change this and bring back suggestions based on what others are doing.

    In case you are interested, you can listen to the recordings at these two webpages:

    Part 1 -

    Part 2 -



  • #2
    I brought riding positions up in my department, but the chief at the time was worried about his ego, so what I presented was met with "that won't work here," and "just because some department in Maryland does it doesn't mean anything."

    The detractors also were worried that if Joe Schmo was't available, then who would ride in that seat? They didn't get that it wasn't the person - it was the task that was assigned to the seat. Whoever sits in the right bucket get the nob.

    Engine - Chauffeur as always, crew chief in right front, nozzle in right bucket, hydrant/forcible entry in left bucket.

    I use the term "crew chief" because it represents the function, not the rank, and calling it the officer's seat (which I still do sometimes in conversations) causes some people to think that if you're not an officer you can't sit there. I feel that if a firefighter is capable of fulfilling the role, he/she can occupy the seat.

    Particularly in a smaller volunteer department, there may not always be an "official" officer available. But that past chief (or other officer), now back to being a line firefighter, certainly should be able to handle it.

    One person even suggested that we should let the "new guy" sit there to help him be excited about being a firefighter... Let him run the siren and the air horns!

    One career department I know of puts the lead EMT for the shift in the right bucket.

    One of our members attended the NFA a year or two ago and riding positions was a topic that was discussed.

    If there's a problem with it around here, it's that sometimes we can't fill all the seats at all, especially during the day. An engine coming in with two people (counting the driver) isn't going to be effective as an engine or a truck. Water supply, maybe.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


    • #3

      In my departement we do have seating positions based on assignment. Before explaining, please note that the way we work may be very different from what you guys do.

      We are 6 in the engine:
      - 1 chief
      - 1 driver
      - 2 "aggressive" firefighters (including a leader and a servant)
      - 2 "water supplying" firefighters (including a leader and a servant)
      The default procedure (that can be adapted/modified) is that upon arrival, the chief assesses the situation with the agressive team while the driver takes care of signaling/protecting the hazardous zone, meanwhile the 2 remaining firefighters connect the engine to the nearest hydrant.

      In the truck: The chief sits on the front passenger seat, the driver drives (which is located on the left side). The "agressive" duo sits behind the driver with the leader on the window side, so that the chief can easily talk to them when looking back. The "water supply" duo sits behind the chief, with the leader on the window side.
      During the ride, the "agressive" duo gears up with the SCBA and other equiments, the other duo checks the sector map for the hydrants near the response adress.

      Feel free to ask for any precision.


      • #4
        We don't have fixed riding positions. After we roll out the door, the OIC hands out assignments. There are times the guy in the 'officers seat' is not the OIC because someone more senior hops in the bucket in the last moment and assumes the function. We have members who are just firefighters but have held officer and chief positions in the past. While they have no formal position now, their seniority puts them in charge regardless of what seat their butt is in that day.


        • #5
          On a volunteer department I can see assigning riding position assignments. On a career FD with the same crew shift after shift it isn't necessary because you know your job because you always do it.
          Crazy, but that's how it goes
          Millions of people living as foes
          Maybe it's not too late
          To learn how to love, and forget how to hate


          • #6
            Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
            On a volunteer department I can see assigning riding position assignments. On a career FD with the same crew shift after shift it isn't necessary because you know your job because you always do it.
            Actually, the Maryland department I used as an example is career staffed. Assuming everyone but the officer is equally qualified for any seat, it just a matter of who is doing what for this shift.

            It can make a difference where tools get mounted, too. Our new engine came with the irons mounted adjacent to the left bucket. Kind of a default that the forcible entry man will be in the left bucket.

            None of this addresses the recent questions in the trade press concerning whether the officer should, in fact, be in the back where he/she can plan without being distracted by traffic, etc. It's a whole 'nother topic.
            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.


            • #7
              Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
              On a volunteer department I can see assigning riding position assignments. On a career FD with the same crew shift after shift it isn't necessary because you know your job because you always do it.
              It may depend on the type of work chart involved. We don't always have the same crew working tour after tour. The truck has 5 possible assignments. Aside from chauffeur the assignment could be any one of the other 4 positions. They are all always staffed. If the crew is very experienced it could come down to who feels like doing what that tour. Officers would rarely object in a situation like that. Very inexperienced members generally get the can. More experienced generally get the roof or outside vent. But they all like to be on the inside occasionally too. It's all decided at the start of the tour by the officer and does not change during the tour.


              • #8
                Eisenhower is quoted as saying "In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."

                This is the quote that always pops into my mind when I think of when our department had looked at seat assignments. We never really adopted it because our staffing levels fluctuated ( from short to shorter usually). We also did not run assignments under the engine/truck roles. Even though we never really adopted it, it generally happened that way. Mostly positive results because most of our incidents were 'routine'. When the unusual occurred, things did not go as well as you would want them too. Training, ability, and experience at the firefighter as well as the officer level are certainly factors. Being able to recognize the unusual incidents early, and being able to deviate from the routine important. IE: You don't want to complete a 360 of a fully involved house and see the smallest hose you got being drug to the front door.

                Going back to the quote, "planning is indispensable." Training is planning. Seat-assignments are planning. Freelancing may be minimized and it is some form of accountability.

                "Plans are useless": when things go south, what is your crew or department going to do or capable of doing?


                • #9
                  Please excuse the crude drawing, it?s 0200, and I?m on my
                  phone lol.

                  Here are our riding assignments on the engine at work.

                  OIC (whoever it may be for the day, LT, Acting LT, MPO acting as LT whatever) is in the right- front ?A? seat, and when he gets off the rigs he grabs.... (I?ll come back to that) and does his 360. After his 360 he meets back at the point of entry and moves in

                  The nozzleman sits directly behind the OIC in Seat ?B,? and the job duties vary by incident.
                  -At a working fire, he?s the first line off the engine, stretched to the initial point of entry and flaked out so it?s ready to go when the OIC returns from his 360. Always with a tool: pick head/flat head/halligan as well.
                  -At an alarm call/smells and bells/whatever you wanna call it with no visible smoke or fire from the exterior, ?B?s? job is the PWC and a hook (preferably 6?, but some guys pull the 4-footer out of the compartment right above where the PWC is.
                  -MVC calls are up in the still at this point in time, so the crew will talk on the way out, assign stabilization, assign the extrication tools, etc etc. That one hasn?t been nailed down as well as the fire response because it?s more discussion while enroute.

                  The hydrant man sits directly behind the operator, and again job duties vary by incident.
                  -If the engine needs to lay in because of hydrant distance, ?C? will wrap and send the truck forward and then make the hydrant, communicating with the officer for when to send the water. After the hydrant is made and charged, ?C? returns to the rig, grabs a set of irons and depending on the situation may throw some ground ladders before meeting back up at the door with the crew.
                  -In our area, and with our MPO?s, we are fortunate enough to have hydrants close enough together in most situations that the operator will make his own hydrant. That allows ?C? to immediately grab a set of irons, assist with getting the initial line deployed and flaked, and either pull a second line to be staged at the door or throw some ladders.
                  -Alarms/Smells & Bells, the firefighter in the ?C? seat will grab their set of irons, and usually the 4-gas meter to perform the investigation.
                  -MVC calls? See above.

                  The MPO obviously drives the rig. If someone is making his hydrant, he can get water flowing to the initial line, and then call for water from the hydrant. Other tasks of the operator would be throwing ladders, staging more tools at the door, staging a second line at the door if it hadn?t been done yet, etc. If the MPO has opted to make his own hydrant, help get the initial line pulled, flaked and ready at the front door. Once that?s complete and they call for water, charge the initial attack like. Then the operator hooks his hydrant, and sees what other tasks need to be done (laddering, pulling and flaking a second line to stage at the door, throw ground ladders etc.) If this is a mutual aid or MABAS call and the operator will be going to work with the rest of the crew, his pack is the forward facing pack on the operators side of the rig. On MVC?s, the operator can assist with getting need tools out, extrication, patient care with EMS while we extricate, traffic, etc.

                  Annnnnndddddd theeeeeeee INTERNS...... If we?re running a 5-pack with the intern, that?s fantastic. Extra sets of hands, more tools to the door, etc etc. The intern ?E? seat is basically looking to the rest of the crew for instructions. Sometimes they?ll start pulling a second line right away just to have it in place. Sometimes they be helping the operator. Sometimes they might be Hand jacking back to make the hydrant.
                  Most of the interns grab a set of irons getting off the truck regardless of the nature of the call, unless the OIC instructs then to grab something specific.

                  Alright a quick not about the officers compliment of tools. When I was an officer, I got off the truck with the TIC and the Knox Box Keys and then I went and grabbed either a pickhesd axe or a halligan so I had some sort of handtool in case I needed it. The current officers seem to struggle with getting anything besides themselves out of or off the truck, but improvement is slowly happening which is good.

                  There, there?s a ?not so brief? brief explanation of our riding assignments.
                  "A fire department that writes off civilians faster than an express line of 6 reasons or less is not progressive, it's dangerous, because it's run by fear. Fear does not save lives, it endangers them." -- Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY

                  "Because if you don't think you're good, nobody else will." -- DC Tom Laun (ret) Syracuse


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