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See or Be Seen?

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  • See or Be Seen?

    I'm a fairly new vollie FF and have been thinking about this question for a few days now.

    When you're on a fireground, what's more important:

    1) Being able to see other people around the fireground and what they're doing


    2) Making yourself as visible as possible so that others will be able to see you.

    I know the answer is a mixture of both, but I want to "force" the question by utilizing the poll feature.
    SEE: It's more important to see people on the fireground
    BE SEEN: I must do everything possible to make myself visible to others

  • #2
    I am going to guess that you have never been in a fire. Inside a fire you will be lucky to see your hand in front of your face, never mind the people with you. You can communicate with your partners by voice or by touch. The IC should know where you are but doesn't need to see you. When operating on the fireground you have a job to do and making yourself visible isn't it.
    Northeast Fire Photos


    • #3
      Originally posted by cfdeng3
      I am going to guess that you have never been in a fire.
      See, that's why I opened my post with "new vollie".

      In terms of being seen, I'm not talking about jumping up and down repeatedly, screaming "hey, here I am!". I'm referring to passively enhancing your ability to "be seen". Whether it be wearing one of those green nightsticks, or applying more reflective decals to your TOG.

      My thinking is that some of the preventable accidents I've seen discussed on the LODD forums seem to be centered around "I didn't or couldn't see him/her." If we could do more to simply make ourselves visible to others, that would go toward reducing these types of accidents. I don't know how you can quantify that type of thing but it just stands to reason.

      Again: I'm fairly new and still learning the ropes.


      • #4
        in my case, i would want to see the other people on the fireground. Thats mainly because i'm a junior firefighter. If its a working job i'm usually at Division A of the fire building. Since i'm not going into the fire building, i can look to see just who is where and doing what. If there is an explosion or other type of mishap and someone goes down, i may be the only one who notices the person is down.

        So in my case it is to See the others.
        Firefighter, Volunteering since Oct 2001

        CCFA 05-04, best overall class for 2005
        "GOOD GAME!"


        • #5
          Neil, There are many variables to the question that you have asked. First off, who is it that needs to see you? Second, it will vary as duties are assigned as to who can see you. Third, will making an attempt to be seen on a timed basis at an incident interfere with the duties assigned you? What do your SOP'S say about the question?

          I can understand your question about the LODD and peoples statements.But, realize that we work in a hazardous enviroment, and conditions change rapidly. We are sometimes assigned to interior functions that include search and rescue, extinguishment, RIT, Overhaul, ventilation and the like, which means to do the job correctly we are going to be out of site of most people other than our crew we are assigned to, and to do the job effectively and efficientley we can't stop and ensure we are seen by the OIC.

          But what we can do is communicate better by radio, ropes, lights, or other techniques that department utilize, and we must stop freelancing on incidents. Each crew is responsible to inform the OIC of their position in and around any incident. We must report conditions and our involvement and location at the incident.

          Again, Sometimes conditions rapily go bad on crews. But that all comes back to training and looking for deteriorating conditions and communicating such to all working crews.

          The job unfortunately is never going to be 100% safe. NO matter what we come up with to alevaite the problems we have had in the past by training and putting in place better procedures and techniques, there is always something we haven't seen and chances are people are going to get hurt or worse, loss of life happens.

          Trust me, if they came up with an idea that would ensure total safety at an incident by being visible this old salt would wear it as would others. Its just not being seen or not being seen that causes the problem, it is a whole lot more. Being seen doesn't prevent the ceiling or roof from falling, nor does it stop falling into a void, or becoming lost in a fire, or falling off a ladder, or preventing a flashover or backdraft.

          Crews are assigned a task at hand. Most crews have enough to worry about by completing their assigned task. Most times crews will not even know who was working inside other than that crews ID. And chances are they may not even see each other until the incident is over.

          Being new, you are asking the right questions though. When in doubt please ask. You never know who has the solution to the problem. But more importantley, seek and disect your departments SOP'S and all the training and education that you can divulge in your career. Stay safe.

          STILL STANDING!!!!!!!!!!!


          • #6
            Interestion Question:

            As an IC or Sector Command I have 2 thoughts,

            When a member is busy working on something I really don't want, or need to see you. I just know the job is being done.

            How ever if you are idle at the moment I want you off to the side near me or in the stage/ pooling area, that way if something is needed I or someone else can glance over and beller.

            Just because you dont want to see someone doesn't mean you don't know where they are. If you know 2 guys are doing a vent and suddenly theres an extra hole in roof you need to be aware.

            Nut shell; if your doing an assigned task: heard but not seen.
            If your Idle you need to be highly visible.


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