When we focus our attention on Building Construction, Command Risk Management and Firefighter Safety and the essence of combat structural fires; Structural firefighting is what it’s all about, is it not? The fundamental nature and reason we have such veneration for firefighting and the fire service and all it entails, has a lot to do with going into burning buildings and fighting fire.
We enjoy it tremendously; we have fun at, because of who we are and what we do-as firefighters. It’s the job and it’s a calling. Firefighting; It’s not something you do, it’s something you are. But firefighting has its adverse consequences, with all too familiar costs, in the form of injuries, debilitating accidents and line of duty deaths.
As a firefighter; to say that we love firefighting would be an understatement, BUT one issue that we need to address is the fact that there are many individual firefighters, companies and organizations that employ fireground operational practices that promote the “enjoyment and entertainment” of working a good job within the occupancy compartment of a structural fire in the building environment.
Today’s incident scene and structural fires are unlike those in past decades and will continue to challenge us operationally when confronted with structural fire engagement and combat operations. Operationally, we need to be doing the right thing, for the right reason in the right place to increase our safety and incident survivability. We also can share the belief and understanding that we at times may have found ourselves staying too long in the wrong place, operating tactically in an adverse environment with known hazards that do not have value, for nothing other than the enjoyment of nozzle and operating time in the fire. We have a tendency when working a room and contents, compartment fire or a structural fire in the building environment placing operating companies and personnel in high hazard environments- sometimes at the expense of justifying our own entertainment value in working the job, the assignment or in maintaining the interior operational interface. Think about it.
We need to stop “entertaining” ourselves. Don’t mistake determined, effective and proactive firefighting with that of reckless, baseless and risk-preferring and self-indulging firefighting. There is a difference. The job is dangerous, it has risks, we are not invincible, and we can die; at any alarm, in any fire, at anytime for any number of reasons…..Let me leave you with some new thoughts and concepts related to operational safety and the definitions that I’ve come to develop that may support apparent or contributing causes to many of the fire service’s undesired events or incidents. Think about the definitions; think about how they apply to you, your personel, your company or your operations; past, present or future. More importantly, think about when and where you’ve found yourself doing any one of these….could the outcome have been different?
TACTICAL AMUSEMENT “tak-ti-kəl ə- myüz-mənt”
1: of or relating to structural fireground tactics: as a (1) a means of amusing or entertaining during fire suppression, support tasks or operations that places personnel at risk
2: the condition of being amused while engaging in fire suppression, support tasks or operations that places personnel at risk
3: pleasurable diversion while engaging in fire suppression, support tasks or operations: entertainment; that places personnel at risk
TACTICAL DIVERSION “tak-ti-kəl də- vər-zhən”
1: the reckless act or an instance of diverting from an assignment, task, operation or activity while engaging in fire suppression, support tasks or operation for the sake of amusing or entertainment; that places personnel at risk
2: the reckless act of self determined task operations that diverts or amuses from defined risk assessment and incident action plans; that places personnel at risk
TACTICAL CIRCUMVENTION “tak-ti-kəl sər-kəm- ven(t)-shən”
1: to deliberately manage to get around especially by ingenuity or approach that diverts for the purpose of amusing; assignment, operations or tasks that countermand or disregard defined risk assessment and incident action plans; that places personnel at risk