From the Editor
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It is customary in many fire departments to conduct some sort of post-incident (fire) critique to discuss how things went. This ranges from a
backstep talk in front of a fire building to a formal,
organized meeting with an agenda, coffee, and
donuts. As we round out another phenomenal year at
FireRescue, I wanted to reflect on the great features and
columns our authors and readers submitted in 2016.
We always strive to bring you the very latest regarding the interests of firefighters—worldwide. We’ve
expanded our international coverage and do our very
best to discuss those interests that (should) matter to
everyone. The fire service is a very eclectic occupation
in terms of disciplines, challenges, and solutions, and
I think we’re getting better at helping put it all into
perspective, every year.
This year saw its share of wins, losses, and trage-dies. We lost some fire buildings and acreage to fire;
we saw dramatic rescues before our very eyes; we
suffered line-of-duty deaths and significant injuries;
and we discovered new threats to our health and
safety, as well as ways to reduce these risks (some
of them being very simple solutions). Regardless,
we could say this about every year as a matter of
fact; however, it’s when we take steps to reduce
the incidence of fire through real community risk
reduction and injury and death to firefighters by
understanding why we see tragedy during normal
operations that we start looking for other things
to critique the following year. So, let’s start the
upcoming year off right by closing out 2016 in this
month’s issue with some tools to help us end it as a
year in critique.
Although not everyone operates in the wildland
urban interface (WUI), we must all take the lessons
learned at those incidents into account at many other
operations as they directly parallel lessons learned the
hard way. Todd McNeal takes us into the after-action
review (AAR) process on a fire season level in the
WUI environment. Conducting this type of incident
review on such a grand level is no easy task, but having
the foundation to look at how incidents in the collective sense can be applied to every fire department’s
operations, namely the parts that make up the sum of
these operations and deployment strategies, is imperative for success.
We often look at the outcome of mistakes that were
made as the meat of many AARs when we should be
conducting some introspection as an organization as
to why those mistakes were made in the first place.
Some are common and some unexpected. Dr. Nicola
Davies brings this topic to the surface by reviewing
recent British research with the West Midland Fire
Service in Birmingham, United Kingdom, to see how
decision making on the fireground functions and
examining a tool that was developed to assess and
enhance decision making.
Biases also come into play when we consider the
tools we need for our jobs and the quantum leaps in
technology and equipment we have been fortunate
to witness over the past 20 years. As we make the
often-challenging equipment decisions, we rarely
conduct an AAR on whether the tools and equipment
we purchase fit our fire department’s operations or if
our biases end up having us looking for opportunities
to use our new purchases, rather than our operations
becoming better served by them. Dave Donohue
describes how this is a more common case than you
may think and how to ensure that every purchase you
make is based on what your fire department needs.
How can we also help to find out what equipment we
need or what common decisions may have to be made
in our organizations? Easy. How about simply coming
back to our standard operating guidelines (SOPs)?
Perhaps the best way to update decision making and
equipment needs is to conduct a periodic review of our
SOPs. Calen Maningas of the Rapid City (SD) Fire
Department tells us about the need to keep these documents living and ever changing. Much like an AAR, a
similar process should be conducted on a routine basis
with SOPs that considers an appropriate timeframe and
current best practices. Furthermore, Maningas describes
the need to formally develop a distribution process that
is acknowledged and trained on so that every member
of the organization is held accountable for safe and
efficient services while adding community value.
The entire staff at FireRescue wish you all a happy
and safe end to 2016 and thank you all very much for
your unbelievable support. As we close out the year,
take a moment to reflect on what went right in 2016
and what may have gone wrong in our organizations.
Develop and conduct an AAR process that will truly
look inside your organizations and how your decisions
have been and are made. Once we discover the process
that works for us, we can always close out another
great year with a Year in Critique.
The year in critique