Fire Officer Communications - Jones & Bartlett Learning


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Fire Officer Communications © PPhhoto otos ot coom m

Fire Officer I

Fire Officer II

Knowledge Objectives

Knowledge Objectives

After studying this chapter, you will be able to: ■

■ ■

Describe the steps in the communication cycle ( (pp 62–63) List the basic skills for effective communication ( ). (pp 63, 65–66) Identify ways to improve listening skills. (pp 63, 65) Describe the ways to counteract environmental noise ( ). (pp 65–66) Identifyy the keyy p points for emergency communications ( )( ). (pp 66–68) Identifyy types yp of reports and discuss their use ( ( ). (pp 68–72)

After studying this chapter, you will be able to: ).

) ■

Skills Objectives After studying this chapter, you will be able to: ■

■ ■

Perform emergency communications with fire officers, fire fighters, and dispatch. (pp 66–68) Give a verbal report. (p 68) Write reports based on report purpose and requirements. (pp 68–71)

Explain the difference between formal and informal communications. (pp 72–73, 75) Identify different types yp of formal communications and discuss their use ( ). (pp 72–73, 75) Describe the considerations and requirements q to keep in mind when writing a report ( )( ). (p 75) Describe how to give an oral presentation of a written report ( ). (pp 75–76) Identify the elements to include in a news release and the best format in which to put these elements ( ) ( ). (p 76) Discuss the effects of social media on fire department communications ( ). (pp 76–79)

Skills Objectives After studying this chapter, you will be able to: ■ ■

■ ■

Write a formal report ( )( )). (p p 75) Give an oral presentation of a written report ( ). (pp 75–76) Write a news release ( )( ). (p 76) Develop a social media policy for your department. (pp 76–79)

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Principles of Fire and Emergency Service Administration (FESHE) Course Outcomes 2. Recognize the need for effective communication skills, both written and verbal. (pp 62–63, 65–66, 68–73, 75) 6. Discuss the various levels of leadership, roles and responsibilities within the organization. (pp 68–71, 73, 75) 9. Identify the roles of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Management System (ICS). (pp 66–68)


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uint 100 is returning from an early morning water-flow alarm at a shopping mall. Lieutenant Williams is reflecting on the after-dinner conversation with Captain Davis about the lack of standard operating procedures (SOPs) for quint companies. The result of that conversation is a new assignment to develop procedures for Quint 100 that could be presented to the battalion chief. Williams’s reflection is interrupted, however, when the quint crew encounters a two-story mid-row townhouse with flames coming out of a basement window. Williams sees an adult leaning out of a smoky second-floor window and picks up the microphone to give dispatch a size-up and incident report. The lieutenant tells the crew to grab the man at the second-floor window. Returning from a 360-degree size-up, Williams sees the man still at the window and the quint crew deploying an attack line through the front door. They enter the townhouse and immediately fall through the floor. As Williams runs up to the front door, dispatch asks, “Is the fire out or do you need additional assistance?” 1. What should you do now? 2. Why is it important to complete the entire communications process when you are in an emergency situation? 3. What can you do in the future to improve information exchange?

Introduction Many fire officers wear a rank insignia that features bugles, representing the fire officer’s speaking trumpet. At the turn of the 20th century, such a trumpet was used to shout orders on the fire ground. Today, this symbol emphasizes the fire officer’s requirement to communicate. Although the technology has certainly advanced, communication skills remain critically important in the fire service. An officer must be able to communicate effectively in many different situations and contexts. A fire officer must be able to process several types of information to supervise and support the fire company members effectively. An almost overwhelming volume of information is

available today, particularly regarding newly identified hazards. A fire officer should regularly access publications and social media to stay aware of trends and issues within public safety. In addition, the officer should share significant information with the company members. Clearly, effective communication skills are essential for a fire officer. These skills are required to provide direction to the crew members, review new policies and procedures, and simply exchange information in a wide range of situations. Effectively transmitting radio reports requires a unique skill set. Communication skills are equally important when working with citizens, conducting tours, releasing public information, and preparing reports.

Fire Officer I The Communication Process Communication is a repetitive circular process. Successful communication occurs whenever two people can exchange information and develop mutual understanding. When information flows from one person to another, the process is truly effective only when the person receiving the information is able to understand what the other person intended to transmit. Effective communication does not occur unless the intended message has been received and understood. This message must make sense in the recipient’s own terms, and it must convey the thought that the sender intended to communicate. The sender cannot be sure that this outcome has occurred unless the recipient sends some confirmation that the message arrived and was correctly interpreted.

■ The Communication Cycle The communication cycle consists of five parts: 1. Message 2. Sender 3. Medium (with noise) 4. Receiver 5. Feedback

The Message The message represents the text of the communication. In its purest form, the message contains only the information to be conveyed. Messages do not have to be in the form of written or spoken words, however. For example, a stern facial expression with purposeful eye contact can convey a very clear message of

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications disapproval, whereas a smile can convey approval. These messages are clear, yet no words accompany them.

The Sender The sender is the person or entity who is sending the message. We think of the sender as a person, but it could also be a sign, a sound, or an image. The message needs to be properly targeted to the right person and formulated so that the receiver will understand the meaning. The sender is responsible for the receiver properly understanding the message. A fire officer must be skilled if he or she is to transmit information and instructions to subordinates and co-workers effectively. The tone of voice or the look that accompanies a spoken message can profoundly influence the receiver’s interpretation. Body language, mannerisms, and other nonverbal cues may all affect the interpretation. Senders may sometimes convey messages that are not intended, not directed to anyone in particular, or not even meant to be messages. For example, a person can outwardly express personal disappointment; however, others may interpret this look as a message of disapproval aimed at them.

The Medium

Feedback The sender should never assume that information has been successfully transferred unless some confirmation is provided that the message was received and understood. Feedback completes the communication cycle by confirming receipt and verifying the receiver’s interpretation of the message. The importance that is attached to feedback depends on the nature of the message. When relaying critical information during a stressful event, the sender should have the receiver repeat back the key points of the message in his or her own words. Without feedback, the sender cannot be confident that the message reached the receiver and was properly interpreted. Effective communication should contain all five components of the communications process; if one or more is missing, communication does not occur.

Effective Communication Skill Basics Almost every task tackled by the fire officer depends on the ability to communicate effectively. An officer must be effective as both a sender and a receiver of information and, in many cases, as a processor of information that has to flow within the organization.

■ Active Listening Your success as a supervisor depends on how freely your subordinates talk to you, keep you informed, and tell you what is bothering them. That success also depends on your effectiveness in communicating with your superiors and keeping them informed. The ability to listen becomes increasingly more important as one advances through the organization. A fire fighter must listen effectively to information that is coming from a higher level. A fire officer must also be able to listen to company members or other subordinates and accurately interpret their comments, concerns, and questions. Listening is a skill that must be continually practiced to maintain proficiency. A typical listening situation for a fire officer could be a meeting with a fire fighter who is expressing a problem or a concern. Listening, in a face-to-face situation, is an active process that requires good eye contact, alert body posture, and frequent use of verbal engagement .

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The medium refers to the method used to convey the information from the sender to the receiver. The medium can consist of words that are spoken by the sender and heard directly by the receiver. Spoken words or sounds can also be transmitted as electromagnetic waves through a radio system. Written words, pictures, symbols, and gestures are all examples of messages transmitted through a visual medium. The sender should consider the circumstances, the nature of the message, and the available methods before choosing a particular medium to send a message. When information has to be transmitted to subordinates, a fire officer can post a notice on a bulletin board, announce it at a formal line-up, or mention it during a firehouse meal. The medium that is chosen influences the importance that is attached to the message. If the information is really important, the fire officer might announce the key points at line-up, and then direct all members to read a written document and sign a sheet to acknowledge that they have read and understood it. When choosing the circumstances for transmitting a personal message, remember this guideline: Praise in public; counsel, coach, or discipline in private.

The Receiver The receiver is the person who receives and interprets the message. Unfortunately, there are many opportunities for error in the reception of a message. Although it is up to the sender to formulate and transmit the message in a form that should be clearly understandable to the receiver, it is the receiver’s responsibility to capture and interpret the information. The same words can convey different meanings to different individuals, so the receiver might not automatically interpret a message as it was intended. In the fire service, the accuracy of the information that is received can be vital, so both the sender and the receiver have responsibilities to ensure that messages are properly expressed and interpreted. Many messages are directed to more than one person, so there can be multiple interpretations of the same message.


Listening is an active process that requires good eye contact, alert body posture, and frequent use of verbal engagement.

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Report Number: 12-0000194

Event Description: The involved crew arrived on Engine 1, which was the second-arriving fire apparatus behind Engine 2, at the scene of a fire involving a two-and-a-half-story single-family dwelling. The crew of Engine 1 laid a large-diameter hose (LDH) supply line from a hydrant a half-block away from the scene and found a moderate to heavy amount of dark gray smoke issuing from Side A of the first floor as well as Side D, with reports of possible persons trapped inside. The driver/operator and one fire fighter established a water supply to Engines 1 and 2 while the remaining crew of three (the company officer and two fire fighters) prepared to enter. It was noted that no attack line was deployed into the house, and our crew could not determine the location of the Engine 2 crew. It was assumed that Engine 2 entered to conduct a primary search. (Note: No one from the first-arriving company had formally established command at this point, nor were we able to establish radio contact with them prior to our arrival.) Engine 1 then deployed a 13⁄4-inch preconnected attack line from our apparatus and entered the first floor for fire attack. Shortly after this company’s entry, Engine 2 crew members entered with another 13⁄4-inch attack from their apparatus and started attacking the fire in the C/D quadrant. Engine 1 personnel then left the attack line and began a primary search. After quickly searching the first floor, the crew went to the second floor and found heavy fire blowing into the hallway from a room in the A/D quadrant. Engine 1 retrieved its attack line from the first floor and began to knock down the fire in that room so the search could be completed without being cut off by the fire. The crew was able to knock down the fire in the room when water pressure was lost to the attack line. The officer of Engine 1 radioed the apparatus operator about the pressure loss. Within seconds, the fire intensified and began blowing into the hallway, nearly engulfing the crew of Engine 1 in the hallway. With no water, we quickly self-rescued down the stairs and out of the house. The fire fighter at the nozzle suffered first-degree burns to the left shoulder, upper left arm, and left ear and was treated on scene by EMS. The second fire fighter (backup man) was uninjured; the company officer was at the bottom of the stairs awaiting control of the fire before ascending. All personnel were properly and fully equipped with SCBA and structural firefighting turnout gear. It was noted later that Engine 2’s crew had switched attack lines while our crew was searching. Furthermore, their initial attack line had approximately 12 kinks in it, as it appeared to have been laid on the ground and then charged without properly flaking (stretching) it out. We believe this action caused the loss of water pressure in the hose line, as the operators at both engines maintained proper discharge pressures (according to the pump panel gauges). Other contributing factors were the failure of Engine 2 to establish incident command, the failure to announce the strategic mode to be used, and the failure to advise the other companies which tasks/actions they were performing.

Lesson Learned: Several lessons were learned and/or reinforced. First, incident command must be established by the first-arriving officer or company. Failure to do so jeopardizes the safety of fire fighters and risks the overall success of the operation for fire fighters, owing to a loss of control of the scene and failure to establish the strategic goals and action plan. Second, and probably the most important factor in this incident, training needs to be reinforced and practiced routinely so that fire fighters are proficient in the proper deployment of attack lines to prevent kinks and to allow for the proper pressure and flow to be realized from the attack line. In this case, the involved crew’s training and experience permitted them to realize the need to retrieve the attack line to knock down the fire so the search could be completed without being cut off by the fire and to self-rescue before they sustained further injury. An important factor that minimized the injuries sustained in this incident was that all members of the involved crew were properly wearing all components of their structural firefighting turnout gear and SCBA. Failure to have done so would have resulted in severe burns or possibly death.

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications The purpose of active listening is to help the fire officer understand the fire fighter’s viewpoint to solve an issue or a problem. The following techniques may help improve your listening skills: ■

■ ■

Do not assume anything. Do not anticipate what someone will say. Do not interrupt. Let the individual who is trying to express a point or position have a full say. Try to understand the need. Often, the initial complaint or problem is a symptom of the real underlying issue. Look for the real reason the person wants your attention. Do not react too quickly. Try not to jump to conclusions. Avoid becoming upset if the situation is poorly explained or if an inappropriate word is used. The goal is to understand the other person’s viewpoint.

■ Stay Focused It is easy to get sidetracked and bring unrelated issues into a conversation. Directed questioning is a good method to keep a conversation on topic. If the speaker starts to ramble, ask a specific question that moves the conversation back to the appropriate subject. For example, if you are attempting to find out why a fire fighter failed to wear a uniform shirt to roll call and he starts talking about how he does not like the fire department patch, you could ask, “How does the patch affect whether you wear your uniform shirt to roll call?”

■ Ensure Accuracy A fire officer needs to have up-to-date information on the fire department’s standard operating guides, policies, and practices. An officer should also be familiar with the personnel regulations, the approved fire department budget, and, if applicable, the current union contract. If a fire fighter is misinterpreting a factual point or a departmental policy, the fire officer is obligated to clarify or correct the information. Ignoring an inaccurate statement may simply foster erroneous information that is transmitted along the fire service “grapevine” (discussed later in this section). If necessary, obtain the accurate information from a chief officer or headquarters staff and correct the misunderstanding. A fire officer sometimes has to exercise control over what is discussed in the work environment. Fire station discussions can easily encroach on subjects that are intensely personal, such as politics, religion, or social values, and can quickly escalate into confrontations. To address potential problems proactively, the fire officer needs to establish some ground rules about the topics and level of intensity when discussing issues. Rumor control is useful in de-escalating the spread of inaccurate information that can harm an individual, the department, or the fire service.

■ Keep Your Supervisor Informed The administrative fire officer depends on you to share information about what is happening at the fire station or in your work environment. In particular, a fire officer needs to keep the chief officer informed about three areas:


Progress toward performance goals and project objectives. A fire officer needs to keep his or her chief apprised of work performance progress, such as training, inspections, smoke detector surveys, and target hazard documentation. It is especially important to let the chief know about anticipated problems early enough to get help and to keep the projects running on time. Matters that may cause controversy. The chief should be informed about conflicts with other fire officers or between shifts, or conflict that extends outside the organization. The chief also needs to know about any disciplinary issues or a controversial application of a departmental policy. When conveying these kinds of messages, sooner is better than later. Contact your supervisor to discuss a potential disciplinary issue and the best approach to enforcement and resolution. Attitudes and morale. A fire officer spends the workday with a group of fire fighters at a single fire station, whereas the command officer spends much of the workday in meetings or on the road. The fire officer should communicate regularly with the chief about the general level of morale and fire fighter response to specific issues.

■ The Grapevine Every organization has an informal communication system, often known as the “grapevine.” The flow of informal and unofficial communications is inevitable in any organization that involves people. The grapevine flourishes in the vacuum created when the official organization does not provide the workforce with timely and accurate information about work-related issues. Much of the grapevine information is based on incomplete data, partial truths, and sometimes outright lies. A fire officer can often get clues about what is going on but should never assume that grapevine information is accurate and should never use the grapevine to leak information or stir controversy. In addition, a fire officer needs to deal with grapevine rumors that are creating stress among the fire fighters by identifying the accurate information and sharing it with subordinates.

■ Overcoming Environmental Noise Environmental noise is a physical or sociological condition that interferes with the message. Within this definition, “noise” includes anything that can clog or interfere with the medium that is delivering the message. Physical noise includes background conversations, outside noises, or distracting sounds that make it difficult to hear. For example, siren noise makes it difficult to communicate over the radio. The squeal of portable radio feedback competes with the clarity of information exchange. Digital radios and cell phones can suffer from poor reception or static. A rapid flow of incoming messages can overload the receiver’s ability to deal with the information, even if the words come through clearly . Darkness or bright flashing lights make it difficult to see clearly and interpret a visual message.

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Trying to talk on a cellular phone with poor reception is one example of physical noise interfering with communication.

Another form of noise interference occurs when the receiver is distracted or thinking about something else and blocks out most or all of an incoming message. The human brain has difficulty processing more than one input source at a time. For example, you could be having a conversation on the telephone with one individual when someone else calls your name. In such a case, your attention is diverted while you try to determine who called you and why. During that moment, you are likely to miss part of the telephone conversation. A similar situation occurs if the sender or receiver is unable to concentrate on or respond to the message due to fatigue, boredom, or fear. Sociological environmental noise is a more subtle and difficult problem. Prejudice and bias are examples of sociological environmental noise. If the receiver does not believe that the sender is credible, the message will be ignored or result in an inadequate response. The following list provides suggestions to improve communication by minimizing this type of environmental noise: ■

Do not struggle for power. Focus attention on the message, not on whether the sender has the authority to deliver it to the receiver. The situation—not the people involved—should drive the communication and the desired action. Avoid an offhand manner. If you want your information to be taken seriously, you must deliver it that way. Be clear and firm about matters that are important. Keep emotions in check. Emergency operations often deal with events that invoke intense feelings that can interfere with focus and attention to the facts of the situation at hand. Remember that words have meaning. Select words that clearly convey your thoughts, and be mindful of the impact of the tone of voice. Do not assume that the receiver understands the message. Encourage the receiver to ask questions and

seek clarification if the intent of the message is unclear. A good technique of confirming understanding is for the receiver to repeat the key points of the message back to the sender. ■ Immediately seek feedback. If the receiver identifies an error or has a concern about the message, encourage that individual to make the statement sooner rather than later. It is always better to solve a problem or identify resistance while there is still time to make a change. ■ Provide an appropriate level of detail. Think about the person who is receiving the message and how much information that individual needs. Consider a fire officer telling a fire fighter to set up the annual hose pressure test. The information needs are different for a fire fighter who has 22 years of experience as a pump operator versus a rookie who has 22 days on the job. ■ Watch out for conflicting orders. Make sure that your message is consistent with information coming from other sources. A fire officer should develop a network of peers to consult when dealing with unfamiliar or confusing situations. A subordinate should also be expected to inform the fire officer of a conflicting order so that you can consider the difference and then give the direction that is most appropriate at that moment. These eight suggestions are intended to improve communications dealing with administration and supervisory activities. The fire ground or emergency scene requires different communications practices.

Emergency Communications A fire officer needs to communicate effectively during emergency incidents. There is no time to be elegant when communicating within the emergency environment. The direct approach requires asking precise questions, providing timely and accurate information, and giving clear and specific orders. Under the time pressure of an emergency incident, management of the communications process can be as important as communicating effectively. The incident commander has to establish and maintain a command presence to manage the exchange of information so that the most important messages go through and lower-priority or unnecessary communications do not get in the way. The incident commander should be the gatekeeper for information exchange via radio communications. Additional control can be added by stating, “Unit(s) stand by.” In severe situations, requesting emergency radio traffic only will reduce communications to immediate necessary communications. This is critical in the event of a mayday situation or substantial change in fire conditions that must be communicated without delay or interference. Key points for emergency communications are as follows: ■ ■ ■ ■

Be direct . Speak clearly. Use a normal tone of voice. If you are using a radio, hold the microphone about 2 inches (5 cm) from your mouth. If you are using a repeater system, allow for a time delay after keying the microphone before speaking.

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications

© Glen E. Ellman

Emergency communications require a direct approach.

■ ■

Use plain English rather than “10 codes.” Use common terminology that is recognized by the National Incident Management System (NIMS), especially when interacting with multiple agencies and disciplines. Try to avoid being in the proximity of other noise sources, such as running engines.

■ “Unit Calling, Repeat . . .” Radio messages must be accurate, brief, and clear. An officer should be as consistent as possible when sending verbal messages over the radio. The performance goal should be to sound the same and communicate just as effectively when reporting a minor incident as when communicating under intense stress. An overly excited commander is difficult to understand and gives the listener(s) the impression that the incident is out of control. In contrast, calm and confident orders from the person in charge set the tone for more efficient and effective incident management. Recordings of radio messages transmitted during emergency incidents are an effective training tool. Listening to others allows a fire officer to identify and emulate techniques that are clear and precise, leaving no doubt about the intent of the message. Listening to recordings of your own radio communications also provides valuable feedback, allowing you to compare the actual communications output with your thought process at that moment.

■ Initial On-Scene Radio Report Size-up is the mental process of gathering and considering all of the pertinent details of a given incident. The initial radio report follows the size-up. During this report, the fire officer puts the key information into words clearly and concisely and shares it with all of the personnel responding to the incident. The initial report should describe what you have, state what you are doing, and provide direction for other units that will be arriving. Routinely using the same terminology and format helps ensure that nothing is missed. An example might sound like this: Engine 1: Dispatch, from Engine 1. Dispatch: Engine 1, this is Dispatch.


Engine 1: Engine 1 at 2345 Central Avenue. We have a two-story, wood-frame, single-family dwelling with heavy smoke showing on side Charlie and fire showing from the first floor on side Delta. Engine 1 has a supply line and will be making an offensive attack through side alpha. Engine 1 is establishing Central Avenue Command on side Alpha. Dispatch: Engine 1 at 2345 Central Avenue with a twostory, wood-frame, single-family dwelling, heavy smoke showing on side Charlie and fire showing on side Delta first floor. Engine 1 is making an offensive attack through side Alpha and establishing Central Avenue Command on side Alpha. Through this simple exchange of information, everyone who needs to know is informed of the situation and the action being taken by the first-arriving unit, and the stage is set for all other units to take action based on SOPs. The dispatcher’s repeating of the key information provides solid confirmation that it was received and understood.

■ Using the Communications Order Model The communications order model is a standard method of transmitting an order to a unit or company at the incident scene. It is designed to ensure that the message is clearly stated, heard by the proper receiver, and properly understood. It also confirms that the receiver is complying with the instruction. Command: Ladder 2, from Command. Ladder 2: Ladder 2, go ahead Command. Command: Ladder 2, come in on side Charlie and conduct a primary search on the second floor. Also advise if there is any fire extension to that level. Ladder 2: Ladder 2 going to side Charlie to do a primary search on the second floor and check for fire extension. Command: Ladder 2, that is correct.

■ Radio Reports Company fire officers frequently provide reports over the radio. Radio communications are essential for emergency operations because they provide an instantaneous connection and can link all of the individuals involved in the incident to share important information. During an emergency incident, both the sender and the receiver should strive to make their radio messages accurate, clear, and as brief as possible. Conditions are often stressful, with several parties competing for air time and the receiver’s attention. There may be only a limited time to transmit an important message and ensure that it is received and understood. The individual who is transmitting a radio report often feels an intense pressure to get the message out as quickly as possible. The realization that a large audience could be listening often adds to the sender’s anxiety level. When given the option, many fire officers prefer to use a telephone or face-to-face communications instead of a radio to transmit complicated or sensitive information. These options allow a more private exchange of information between two individuals, including the ability to discuss and clarify the

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information. A good practice is to think first; position the microphone; depress the key; take a breath; and then send a concise, specific message in a clear tone.

Reporting Some reports are prepared on a regular schedule, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly. Other types of reports are prepared only in response to specific occurrences or when requested. To create a useful report, the fire officer must understand the specific information that is needed and provide it in a manner that is easily interpreted.

Types of Reports Some reports are presented orally, whereas others are prepared electronically and entered into computer systems. Some reports are formal, whereas others are informal. This chapter covers some of the widely used elements of reporting and provides examples of the most common types of reports that a fire officer might have to prepare. More experienced fire officers can also provide assistance in mastering the reporting requirements of a new position.

■ Verbal Reports The most common form of reporting is verbal communication from one individual to another, either face-to-face or via a telephone or radio. To be effective, the transfer of information must be clear and concise, using terminology that is appropriate for the receiver. Face-to-face conversation is the most effective means of conveying many types of information. The sender and the receiver can engage in a two-way exchange of information that incorporates body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and inflection. When verbal communication must be conducted over radio or telephone, however, these supplementary expressions are sacrificed. During emergency operations, key information from a face-to-face encounter may need to be transmitted over the radio so everyone has access to it. A CAN report is an effective method of exchanging information when the magnitude or speed of the event requires maximum efficiency. The acronym CAN stands for “conditions–actions–needs.” Suppose incident command contacts the Ventilation Group and requests a CAN report. The officer assigned to the Roof Group would report back to command the conditions of the roof and ventilation process, actions taken, and any additional needs that must be met to complete the task. Radio reports during an emergency incident should be directed back to the incident commander once the task is completed, when a progress update is necessary, or when additional resources are required.

■ Written Reports Routine Reports Routine reports provide information that is related to fire department personnel, programs, equipment, and facilities. Most fire departments also require company officers to maintain a company journal or log book . A fixture in fire stations since the 19th century, the company journal provides an

extemporaneous record of all emergency, routine, and special activities that occur at the fire station. Some fire departments have advanced from keeping the journal in a handwritten, hard-covered book to maintaining it as a database on the station computer. The company journal serves as a permanent reference that can be consulted to determine what happened at that fire station at any particular time and date, as well as who was involved. The general orders usually list all of the different types of information that must be entered into the company journal. The company journal is also the place to enter a record of any fire fighter injury, liability-creating event, and special visitors to the station.

Morning Report to the Administrative Fire Officer Most career fire officers are required to provide some type of morning report to their superior officer. This report is made by telephone or on a simple form that is transmitted by fax or e-mail. One purpose of the morning report is to identify any personnel or resource shortage as soon as possible. For example, if the driver/operator calls in sick, the driver/operator from the off-going shift might have to remain at work to keep the engine company in service until a replacement arrives. The administrative fire officer needs to know that the company is short a driver/operator and has a person working involuntary overtime or holdover, or that a replacement needs to be found.

Monthly Activity and Training Report The monthly activity and training report documents the company’s activity during the preceding month. Such a report typically includes the number of emergency responses, training activities, inspections, public education events, and station visits that were conducted during the previous month. Some monthly reports include details such as the number of feet of hose used and the number of ladders deployed during the month. In many cases, the officer delegates the preparation of routine reports that do not involve personnel actions or supervisory responsibilities to subordinates. In such a case, the officer is always responsible for checking and signing the report before it is submitted. Two other routine reports are the annual fire fighter performance appraisals and the fire safety inspection. These reports are covered in detail in the Evaluation and Discipline and Preincident Planning and Code Enforcement chapters. Some fire companies or municipal agencies post a version of a monthly report on their public Web site. The reports often include digital pictures or other information of the incidents and the personnel involved. Special events or unusual situations that occurred during the month might also be included in the monthly report. For example, this report might note that the company provided standby coverage for a presidential visit or participated in a local parade.

Incident Reports An incident report is required for every emergency response. The nature and the complexity of the report depend on the situation:

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications

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Paramedic Intern Bartlow (Community College) on Medic 100 7111 Hogarth St. - Injury FF Cegar detailed in from Fire Station 47 FF Sorce off duty 9103 Cross Chase Rd - Trouble Breathing 4110 Green Springs Dr. #101 - sick 8902 Harrivan Ln - Kitchen fire Quint to Academy 12-lead monitor #1314 damaged on incident #0499 Facilites working on furnace EMS3 delivers loaner 12-lead #1133 and picks up #1314 10614 Hampton Rd - STEMI 10614 Hampton Rd -STEMI I-95 North at Franconia exit - MVC 6600 Springfield Mall - Injury Assistant Chief Arrow and City Manager in quarters 10400 Richmond Hwy - ALS FF Wirth on duty 7401 Eastmoreland Ave - 2nd Alarm 7401 Eastmoreland Ave - 3rd Alarm Engine 44 filling Fire Station 100 Friday, February 13 9788 Whispering Meadow Ln - stroke 6600 Springfield Mall - Alarm Bells


Mike Ward.



Olliges - 2 Turner Turner Medic

Engine Medic Quint

Medic Engine Engine Engine Medic Quint Engine

Medic Quint

Turner Olliges Ceg Sorce Anders Olliges Rollo Williams Turner Davis Turner Olliges Davis Davis Davis Olliges Wirth Williams Davis Jones Olliges Williams

Example of a company journal.

Minor incidents generally require simple reports, whereas major incidents require extensive reports. The National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) is a nationwide database managed by the U.S. Fire Administration that collects data related to fires and other incidents. Generally, the first-arriving officer (or the incident commander) completes an NFIRS report for each response, including a narrative description of the situation and the action that was taken. The full incident report includes a supplementary report from the officer in charge of each additional unit that responded. Many departments use a narrative format when reporting on incidents . Some incidents require an expanded incident report narrative, in which all company members submit a narrative description of their observations and activities during an incident. The fire officer should anticipate the need

to provide expanded incident reports for the following types of incidents: ■ The fire company was one of the first-arriving units at a fire with a civilian fatality or injury. ■ The fire company was one of the first-arriving units at an incident that has become a crime scene or an arson investigation. ■ The fire company participated in an occupant rescue or other emergency scene activity that would qualify for official recognition, an award, or a bravery citation. ■ The fire company was involved in an unusual, difficult, or high-profile activity that requires review by the fire chief or designated authority. ■ A fire company activity occurred that may have contributed to a death or serious injury.

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Civilians Rescued From Burning Home Twenty-eight fire fighters responded to an early morning house fire in the Grandview district. The first 9-1-1 call was at 10:47 pm on Monday December 10, 2014, reporting smoke coming from a three-story townhome. Metro County fire fighters arrived at 11:07 pm, encountered smoke and flames coming from the first floor windows at 1928 Braniff Boulevard. Two elderly females were found on the third floor. They were taken out of the building through a window via an aerial tower, treated by paramedic/fire fighters, and transported to University Hospital. It took 17 minutes of aggressive fire suppression before Battalion Chief Devon Jones declared the fire “under control.” The first floor of the townhouse was extensively damaged, with heat and smoke damage to the adjacent townhouses. The cause of the fire remains under investigation. Preliminary results show that the fire started in the kitchen. Smoke detectors were in the home, but batteries were removed. The monetary loss has not been calculated. Submitted by T. L. Gaines, Metro County Fire Department [email protected] (111) 555-3473 Sample incident report.

A fire company activity occurred that may have created a liability. ■ A fire company activity occurred that has initiated an internal investigation. The author of a narrative should describe any observations that were made en route to the incident or at the scene, and should fully document his or her actions related to the incident. The narrative should provide a clear mental image of the situation and the actions that were taken, and may include pertinent negatives—elements noted not to be present or actions not taken. For example, if no gas-powered tools were used on the fire floor, this fact may influence the effec■

tiveness of an arson investigation and be cited in future court proceedings.

Infrequent Reports Infrequent reports usually require a fire officer’s personal attention to ensure that the report’s information is complete and concise. These special reports include the following documents: ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Knowing Reporting Procedures A fire officer is responsible for the timely and accurate completion of property damage and injury reports. That does not mean that the fire officer must personally fill out every form. All fire fighters should know how to fill out the required administrative paperwork for a minor injury, bloodborne pathogen exposure, or damage to fire department property. Departments using electronic patient care reports must make note of the presence of known environmental or health hazards, as this information may affect future worker’s compensation coverage or long-term healthcare issues for an individual or an entire crew. The late notification of the duty officer regarding infectious disease encounters and the tardy or incomplete documentation of injuries or toxic exposures are continuing challenges to fire fighter health and safety. All fire fighters should know the reporting procedures to be followed to protect them throughout their careers.

Fire fighter injury report Citizen complaint Property damage or liability-event report Vehicle accident report New equipment or procedure evaluation Suggestions to improve fire department operation Response to a grievance or complaint Fire fighter work improvement plan Request for other agency services

Some situations require two or more different report forms to cover the same event. For example, if a fire engine collides with a private vehicle at an intersection while responding to an emergency call, the fire officer will spend significant time completing a half-dozen forms, even if no injuries occur. A supervisor’s report must be filed, and the apparatus driver must complete an accident report. Another form identifies the damage to the fire apparatus and any repairs that are needed. The local jurisdiction’s risk management division may also require a report. The insurance company that covers the fire apparatus usually requires the completion of another form. A supervisor’s report is required by state worker’s compensation agencies whenever an employee is injured. This report serves as the control document that starts the state file relating to an injury or a disability claim . The supervisor’s first report of an injury must be submitted within 24 to 72 hours of the incident or in line with company policy, after conducting an investigation into the facts.

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications

OSHA CASE NO: COMPANY Scotts Valley Fire Protection District A. EMPLOYEE


Claims Management Inc. PO Box 342 Sacramento, CA 95812-3042 (916) 631-1250 FAX (916) 635-6288

LOCATION 7 Erba Lane, Scotts Valley, CA, 95066




Courtesy of Claims Management, Inc.




DEPARTMENT Scotts Valley Fire Protection District 1100 DATE HOUR DEPARTMENT 1100





C. WITNESSES - List of Names and Addresses Name Address


E. UNSAFE ACT/CORRECTIVE ACTION TAKEN - Include both employee and supervisor corrective actions to prevent future occurrences.


If yes, please fill out the following information: Name of Doctor:

NO Address of Doctor:

NON-EMERGENCY, BUT PLAN ON SEEING A PHYSICIAN Physician’s Name: Supervisor’s accident report for worker’s compensation.

This report often identifies the injured person, the nature of the injury, the means by which the incident occurred, practices or conditions that contributed to the incident, any potential loss, the typical frequency of occurrence, and actions that will be taken to prevent the same incident from occurring again. A chronological statement of events is a detailed

account of activities, such as a narrative report of the actions taken at an incident or accident, and should be included in the supervisor’s report. Emotional statements, opinions, and hearsay have no place in a formal report that will remain on permanent record and potentially be subject to subpoena as a public record.

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■ Using Information Technology Most reports are completed using a computer and software. The role of the fire officer will range from selecting preformatted information in an interactive online form, as with an NFIRS report, to composing a narrative and following a guide sheet to make a suggestion to improve fire department operations. The physical resources available within a fire station for reporting purposes typically include a computer, printer, and network connection. The computer includes a keyboard, display screen, mouse or touchpad, central processing unit, memory, hard drive, and a disk drive. Two types of software are found on the computer: the operating system and applications. The operating system handles the input, manages files, and manages all of the activity. It is like the drivetrain of a quint. Commonly used operating systems include Microsoft Windows, Apple’s OS, and Linux. Application programs are designed to provide a specific task, much like a pump panel controls the delivery of water. Fire officers commonly use word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications. Word processors are used to produce memos, reports, and letters. Many programs provide templates that serve as pre-

made layouts for routine reports. Most provide spell-checking and grammar guides. Popular word processing programs include Microsoft Word, OpenOffice Writer, GoogleDocs, WordPerfect, and Page. Spreadsheets are used to tabulate numbers and information in columns and rows, often as a means to analyze data and develop charts. The display resembles a ledger sheet, with columns represented by letters and rows identified by numbers. The intersection of a column and row, called a cell, can contain numbers, letters, or a formula. Formulas are used to make calculations. For example, in cell A20 you might see “=A19*D03,” which means the software multiplies the number in cell A19 with the number in cell D03 and places the result in cell A20. Spreadsheets have immense calculation capabilities. Widely used spreadsheet applications include Microsoft Excel, Open Office Calc, Google Spreadsheet, Apple Numbers, and Libre Office Calc. Presentation software is used to display information in a format that allows the audience to understand visually the message presented. The images can be displayed on a screen or Web site, and images, videos, and sounds can be integrated as desired. Commonly used presentation software includes Microsoft PowerPoint, OpenOffice Impress, and Apple Keynote.

Fire Officer II Written Communications Written communication is needed to document both routine and extraordinary fire department activities. The resulting documents establish institutional history and serve as the foundation of any activity that the fire department wishes to accomplish. As a senior chief explained, “If it is not written down, it did not happen.”

■ Informal Communications Informal communications include internal memos, e-mails, instant messages, and messages transmitted via mobile data terminals. This type of communication is used primarily to record or transmit information that may not be needed for reference in the future. Even so, all communications from a company officer are retrievable within an information management system. Consequently, each message and report needs to be appropriate, accurate, and ethical. Some informal reports are retained for a period of time and may become a part of a formal report or investigation. For example, a written memo could document an informal conversation between a fire officer and a fire fighter regarding a performance issue. The memo might note that the employee was warned that corrective action is required by a particular date. If the performance is corrected, the warning memo may be discarded after 12 months. If the performance remains uncor-

rected, the memo becomes part of the formal documentation of progressive discipline.

■ Formal Communications A formal communication is an official fire department document printed on business stationery with the fire department letterhead. If it is a letter or report intended for someone outside the fire department, it is usually signed by the fire chief or a designated staff officer to establish that the document is an official communication. Subordinates often prepare these documents and submit them for an administrative review to check the grammar and clarity. A fire chief or the staff officer who is designated to sign the document performs a final review before it is transmitted. When sending electronic messages with attachments, it is a good practice to double-check exactly what you are sending by opening the attachment(s) to make sure it is what you intended. The fire department maintains a permanent copy of all formal reports and official correspondence from the fire chief and senior staff officers. Formal reports are usually archived.

Standard Operating Procedures Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are written organizational directives that establish or prescribe specific operational or administrative methods to be followed routinely for the performance of designated operations or actions. They are

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications ■ ■ ■

Write a Letter for the Fire Chief A popular assessment center exercise requires the candidate to prepare a letter for the fire chief’s signature. This represents a common assignment for a supervising fire officer in many fire departments. In the scenario, the candidate is provided with all of the necessary information and must demonstrate the ability to prepare a properly formatted and worded letter. The letter is typically a response to a complaint or inquiry by a citizen or community interest group. This exercise has two primary goals: 1. Assess the candidate’s writing skills. 2. Assess the candidate’s decision-making skills. Preparing for this part of the assessment center requires the candidate to learn the proper format for an official letter or formal report. Generally, the assessment center exercise requires a business letter format. One method of preparing for this exercise is to contact the fire chief’s administrative assistant and ask how this type of letter is typically prepared for the fire chief.

intended to provide a standard and consistent response to emergency incidents as well as personnel supervisory actions and administrative tasks. SOPs are a prime reference source for promotional exams and departmental training. SOPs are formal, permanent documents that are published in a standard format, signed by the fire chief, and widely distributed. They remain in effect permanently or until they are rescinded or amended. Many fire departments conduct a periodic review of all SOPs so they can revise, update, or eliminate any that are outdated or no longer applicable. Any changes in the SOPs must also be approved by the fire chief (See the Introduction to the Fire Officer chapter for more information on SOPs.)

Standard Operating Guidelines Standard operating guidelines (SOGs) are written organizational directives that identify a desired goal and describe the general path to accomplish the goal, including critical tasks or cautions. Like SOPs, SOGs are formal, permanent documents that are published in a standard format and remain in effect until they are rescinded or amended. SOGs are often used in multijurisdictional activities, such as an automatic aid response plan, that provide flexibility for each responding agency to achieve a goal through various methods and resources. The U.S. Fire Administration’s Developing Effective Standard Operating Procedures for Fire and EMS Departments looked at the difference between SOPs and SOGs. Its review of legal proceedings indicates that terminology is less important than content and implementation of SOPs/SOGs. The review revealed that the courts tend to assess liability based on factors such as the following: ■ ■

Systems in place to develop and maintain SOPs/SOGs Compatibility with regulatory requirements and national standards


Consideration of unique departmental needs Adequacy of training and demonstration of competence Procedures used to monitor performance and ensure compliance

General Orders General orders are formal documents that address a specific subject, policy, condition, or situation. They are usually signed by the fire chief and can remain in effect for various periods of time, ranging from a few days to permanently. These documents may also be called executive orders, departmental directives, master memos, or other terms. Many departments use general orders to announce promotions and personnel transfers. Copies of the general orders should be available for reference at all fire stations.

Announcements The formal organization may use announcements, information bulletins, newsletters, Web sites, or other methods to share additional information with fire department members. The identification of these communications is different for each department. These types of announcements are used to distribute short-term and nonessential information that is of interest.

Legal Correspondence Fire departments are often required to produce copies of documents or reports for legal purposes. Sometimes the fire department is directly involved in the legal action, whereas in other cases the action involves other parties but relates to a situation in which the fire department responded or had some involvement. It is not unusual for a fire department to receive a legal order demanding all of the documentation that is on file pertaining to a particular incident. Collecting and transmitting this information is a task that can require extensive time and effort. In any situation in which reports or documentation is requested, the fire department should consult with legal counsel. The fire officer who prepared a report may be called on— sometimes years later—to sign an affidavit, appear at a deposition, or appear in court to testify that the information provided in the report is complete and accurate. The fire officer might also have to respond to an interrogatory, which is a series of written questions asked by someone from an opposing legal party. The fire department must provide written answers to the interrogatories, under oath, and produce any associated documentation. If the initial incident report or other documents provide an accurate, factual, objective, complete, and clear presentation of the facts, the response to the interrogatory is often a simple affirmation of the written records. The task can become much more complex and embarrassing if the original documents are vague, incomplete, false, or missing.

Recommendation Report A recommendation report is a document that suggests a particular action or decision. Some reports incorporate both a chronological section and a recommendation section. For

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u itth M © Ke n c k, I rSto utte rii//Sh rato



Effective communication is crucial not only for our success on the fire ground, but also for the safety of our fire fighters. When reviewing line-of-duty deaths or near-miss reports, it seems a breakdown in communication is a contributing factor in the majority of them. Think about all the times within your own organization that miscommunication has occurred on your fire ground. Now ask yourself, why does this occur? Several years ago, I served in the Training Division for a neighboring department. We were in the middle of conducting annual live fire scenarios. In one The incident commander particular scenario, crews arrived at a three-story burn building and reported attempted to call the ladder smoke evident from the C and D sides on the second and third floors. The incident commander (IC) assigned his engine crew to fire attack (Attack Group); the crew on the radio, but no rescue crew was assigned to search and rescue (Search Group). During his walkresponse came back. around, the captain also noticed a victim (mannequin) positioned at a window on the C/D corner of the third floor. The arriving ladder crew was assigned by Command (via radio) to throw a 35-foot ladder to the third floor and attempt to rescue the victim. The ladder crew positioned the ladder at the window; while they were doing so, the tip of the ladder bumped the victim, knocking it down away from view. After the ladder was in position, the ladder crew returned to their rig to retrieve tools and stage for further orders. During this time, the IC was moving around the exterior of the building, continuing to assess the situation and give assignments to the approaching medic unit and engine. When he came back around to the C side, he noticed the ladder and also noticed the victim was no longer visible. He radioed to the Search Group inside that they should meet up with the ladder crew who had the victim. The Search Group advised they had made access to the third floor via the stairwell and had not met the ladder crew. The incident commander attempted to call the ladder crew on the radio, but no response came back. After a second attempt to reach the ladder crew via radio with no response, the IC ordered the evacuation signal to sound and transmitted the evacuation message over the radio to all units. As units evacuated, it was quickly discovered that the ladder crew was standing on the other side of their rig outside of the view from Command. The senior fire fighter on the ladder never heard the order for them to make entry, only to throw the ladder. When the assignment was complete, he did not inform Command because he assumed the IC would see the ladder in position, and he returned to the rig to gather more tools and await further orders. The captain in charge quickly realized something was not right and made the right call in evacuating all crews to determine the issue. Had it not been for the quick discovery of the problem, the IC was already prepared to issue a mayday call on the ladder crew’s behalf. Feedback in this situation would have prevented this incident from occurring at all. It was a great eye opener for the crews on scene as to how quickly miscommunication could happen. I have used this scenario as an example in many classes to demonstrate the importance of effective communication and how it impacts everything we do. © Photos Photo .com coom com om

Billy Floyd, Jr. Division Chief of Fire Training North Myrtle Beach Department of Public Safety North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications example, the fire fighter line-of-duty death investigations produced by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) include a chronological report of the event, followed by a series of recommendations aimed at preventing the occurrence of a similar situation. The goal of a decision document is to provide enough information and make an effective persuasive argument so that the intended individual or body accepts your recommendation. This type of report includes recommendations for employee recognition or formal discipline, for a new or improved procedure, or for adoption of a new device. A decision document usually includes the following elements: ■ ■

Statement of problem or issue: One or two sentences. Background: Brief description of how this became a problem or an issue. Restrictions: Outline of the restrictions affecting the decision. Factors such as a federal law, state regulations, local ordinances, budget or staff restrictions, and union contracts are all restrictions that could affect a decision. Options: Where appropriate, provide more than one option and the rationale behind each option. In most cases, one option is to do nothing. Recommendation: An explanation of why the recommended option is the best decision. The recommendation should be based on considerations that would make sense to the decision maker. If the recommendation is going to a political body and involves a budget decision, it should be expressed in terms of lower cost, higher level of service, or reduced liability. The impact of the decision should be quantified as accurately as possible, with an explanation of how much money it will save, which new levels of service will be provided, or how much the liability will be reduced. Next action: A clear statement of the action that should be taken to implement the recommendation. Some recommendations may require changes in departmental policy or budget. Others could involve an application for grant funds or a request for a change in state or federal legislation.


When preparing the report, the appropriate format must be selected. Options range from an internal memo format with one or two pages of text to a lengthy formal report that includes photographs, charts, diagrams, and other supporting information. Some reports require a recommendation. In such a case, the fire officer may need to analyze and interpret data that are maintained in a database or a records management system. The fire department’s records management system typically contains NFIRS run reports, training records, occupancy inspection records, preincident plans, hydrant testing records, staffing data, and company activity records. A computer-aided dispatch system uses a combination of databases to verify addresses and determine the units that should be dispatched; it also maintains information that can be retrieved relating to individual addresses. All of the transactions performed by a computer-aided dispatch system are recorded in another database. This information can be retrieved to examine the history of a particular incident or to identify all of the incidents that have occurred at a particular location. When developing some reports, the fire officer might be looking at variances, such as differences between the projected budget and actual expenses in different accounts in a given year. When a variance is encountered, the analysis should consider both the cause and the effect. If the budget included an allocation of $10,000 for training and the expenditure records indicate that only $500 was spent, there would be a variance of $9500 that could be reallocated for some other purpose. This variance could also indicate that very little training was actually conducted.

Presenting a Report A fire officer should be prepared to make an oral presentation of a decision document or to speak to a community group on a fire department issue. Using the written report as a guide, a verbal presentation would consist of four parts: 1. Getting their attention. Have an opening that entices the audience to pay attention to your message.

Writing a Report Reports should be accurate and present the necessary information in an understandable format. The report could be intended to brief the reader, or it might provide a systematic analysis of an issue. If the fire chief wants only to be briefed on a new piece of equipment and the fire officer delivers a fully researched presentation, both parties would be frustrated. An executive summary would help in this case. The fire officer must consider the intended audience. Consider a report that proposes replacing four engine and three ladder companies with three quints. If the report is internal, the technical information could include fire department jargon. In contrast, if the report will be submitted to the city council, with copies going to the news media, many of the terms and concepts would have to be explained in detail.

Verbal Presentations A promotional candidate should be prepared for two different types of verbal presentations. The first type is a meeting with a citizen or community group to explain a fire department practice or issue. This is equivalent to a verbal presentation of a decision document. The second type of presentation could follow an emergency incident scenario. After the incident management portion of the exercise is completed, the candidate could be required to make a presentation of the incident as if he or she is speaking to the press or reporting to a senior command officer.

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2. Interest statement. Immediately and briefly explain why listeners should be interested in this topic. 3. Details. Organize the facts in a logical and systematic way that informs the listeners and supports the recommended decision. 4. Action. At the close of your presentation, ask the audience to take some specific action. The most effective closing statements are actions that relate directly to the interest statement at the beginning of the presentation.

Preparing a News Release Fire organizations need to be able to communicate effectively through the local mass media. A news release allows a fire department to reach a large audience at virtually no cost. Such a release could be structured to promote a public education message, draw attention to the community’s risk problems, announce a new program or the opening of a new facility, or simply develop good public relations. A well-prepared news release encourages the media to cover your story. The first step in preparing a news release is to formulate a plan. Consider what the release is intended to accomplish. Is it an urgent fire safety message or an invitation to the fire department picnic? Who is the target audience? Most messages are directed toward some particular group or audience. A safety message about a smoke alarm program, for example, is directed toward those residents who do not have smoke alarms. Every contact with the community should be viewed as an opportunity to teach or reinforce some safety message. You already have community members’ attention due to the event, so here is the opportunity to teach them something that can prevent an injury or death in the future. During this first step, you should also identify what makes the story interesting and worthy of the time and energy the media source must expend to present it. The media may have hundreds of releases that they must prioritize to decide which ones should get attention. If the news release is about smoke alarms, the release should emphasize why this subject is important. The second step is to develop the concept and write the release. The format should be clear, concise, and well organized. The first paragraph or two should cover the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the story. Successive paragraphs should provide further information, progressing from the most important information to the least important. Do not be wordy in a press release, and stick to the facts. The idea is to give the media enough information to convince them that the story warrants coverage. Each media outlet will consider the release in the context of whether the information would be of interest to its audience. If the release is on target, a reporter will follow up. It is very important that sensitive information, such as names or identifiers, is not released to protect the individuals as well as the department from Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. The use of the department’s letterhead will help draw the attention of the news agency. Formatting can also help

bring attention to the release. Use at least 1-inch (2.5-cm) margins, double-space the text, and make the news release fit on one page. Keep the document neat and clearly organized, and make sure that it is free from typographical or grammar errors. At the top of the page, print “NEWS RELEASE” in all capital letters. The time and date should appear on the following line. Separate this heading from the text by a series of five to seven pound signs (#######). Pound signs should also be used to separate the text from the ending, which should include a contact name and number for further information. The last step is to get the news release out to the media. It is important to distribute the release to all media outlets in an equitable manner.

Social Media The term social media describes a continually changing utilization of digital communications in which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, videos, pictures, and other content. Social media differ from traditional or corporate media in the areas of quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, accuracy, reliability, and permanence. The proliferation of social media has drastically changed the way news is reported. Several years ago, much of the reporting fell to news reporters who collected information from a variety of sources before presenting what they had learned to the public. The impact of social media on news reporting is that anyone with a social media account can report what they have seen and heard, and news spreads much faster. This news, however, is not always accurate or well researched.

■ Establishing a Fire Department Social Media Policy Fire departments need to establish and regularly review their social media policies. Technology, court decisions, and high-profile incidents continue to shape the development of best practices. The Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association’s Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper includes this observation on departmental and personal information technology: Fire departments should also be mindful of department-related material/content that members may post to their individual or other websites or blogs, including “unofficial” departmental websites. Acting within the bounds of the law and, in particular, respecting individuals’ freedom of speech and expression, departments should have policies to ensure that members do not post to their own or any other website inappropriate or offensive department-related material. Such policies should, among other things, explicitly aim to prevent

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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications any disclosures that might reveal sensitive Homeland Security–related information or that might constitute a potential HIPAA or other privacy-related breach or violation. The fire chief identifies who will develop a social media policy, including the process of submitting, reviewing, and approving content. Such a policy should cover use of personal social media sites as related to the member’s fire department duties as well as official fire department social media sites. The fire department has an obligation to actively protect itself from creation and sharing of inappropriate images. Using a pumper as a background for a sexy photo session is an example of an inappropriate image. Posting racist and X-rated messages about the department or the job are actions that have terminated the careers of both volunteer and career fire fighters. Posting images of dead, intoxicated, or seriously injured victims can destroy decades of trust built up between the department and the citizens they serve. In fact, Connecticut and New Jersey have made it a criminal offense for an emergency responder to take a photo of a victim or patient; posting that image online generates a second criminal offense. Using images or discussing incidents or issues identified as “fire department related” on personal social sites can also be controlled by the department, even when the information is posted by off-duty personnel. Developing and enforcing the department’s social media policy will require coordination among the authority having jurisdiction, human resources, public information agencies, and law enforcement .

■ Helmet Cams and On-the-Job Digital Images Digital technology provides an opportunity to provide a dramatic first-person perspective while a fire fighter is operating at a structure fire, vehicle crash extrication, or life-threatening medical emergency. High-definition picture and sound can create a compelling recording. Recordings also create significant risk to the department. Posting such videos on social media could interfere with an arson investigation, illegally identify a medical patient, or expose a crime victim. Any of these outcomes may subject the department to legal sanctions and penalties. Deleting such recordings could be considered destruction of evidence. No incident is handled perfectly. A real-time digital documentation of a fire-ground misadventure could be used to point out reckless behavior, poor procedures, or a practiced pattern of incompetence. Some departments now prohibit the use of any video recording device when responding to or operating at an incident. Issues related to fire service imagery extend beyond onduty members responding to incidents. Utilizing images or logos that identify the department is prohibited when members post private pictures or videos on social media. For some agencies, this is a digital extension of the rules against wearing


LAFD Is Early Social Media Adopter The Los Angeles Fire Department uses social media to assist during emergencies as well as to engage the community in emergency preparedness. As reported in a 2007 article in Computerworld, Public Information Officer Brian Humphrey was able to obtain first-person accounts of fire development at a major emergency brush fire in Griffith Park. Humphrey provided that information to the incident commander as well as public information and instructions through Twitter. LAFD utilizes approximately 80 different social media applications or services.

elements of the fire fighter’s uniform or personal protective clothing when off-duty.

■ Engaging the Community Through Social Media In The Path Forward, the American Red Cross presented research at the 2010 Emergency Social Data Summit showing that nearly half of respondents affected by a disaster asked for help on social media and 75 percent expected help to arrive within the hour. FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, the keynote speaker at the summit, points out, “As social media becomes more a part of our daily lives, people are turning to it during emergencies as well. We need to utilize these tools, to the best of our abilities, to engage and inform the public, because no matter how much federal, state, and local officials do, we will only be successful if the public is brought in as part of the team.” Social media adds immediacy that empowers citizens to share information with government, first responders, media, and one another, thereby complementing messages transmitted by radio, broadcast or cable TV, printed notices, and ham radio networks. A key to successful fire department use of social media is establishing the public’s trust. Outward social media efforts provide the public with timely and appropriate awareness of active emergency incidents that may affect traffic or their neighborhood, alerts regarding impending natural or human-made significant events, emergency directions during a major weather event, and emergency communications during a disaster. In addition, outward social media can supplement traditional fire prevention and injury prevention campaigns, increase awareness of fire department community activities, and provide a constantly updated digital presence. A federal homeland security group recruited first responders to develop best practice recommendations in engaging communities. The resulting 2012 Department of Homeland Security report, First Responder Communities of Practice Virtual Social Media Working Group Social Media Strategy, made the following recommendations: Establishing and maintaining brand standardization, including social media profiles, logos, messaging styles,

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Fire Officer: Principles and Practice, Third Edition

SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY 1. PURPOSE: The purpose of this document is to define and regulate the use of social media by San Juan County Fire Department employees and volunteers. 2. DEFINITIONS a. Social media: forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. The term social media includes, but is not limited to, social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube. b. SJCFD social media site: a social media site created, maintained and controlled by SJCFD. c. Personal social media: social media content maintained and controlled by an individual employee or volunteer member of SJCFD. 3. SCOPE This policy applies to the use of personal social media relating to an employee’s or volunteer’s duties, and to social media on SJCFD social media sites. 4. SJCFD SOCIAL MEDIA SITES: a. SJCFD social media sites shall not be created without the approval of the SJCFD Fire Chief or the SJCFD Fire Chief’s designee. b. All content posted on SJCFD social media sites shall be approved by the Fire Chief or the Fire Chief’s designee. c. Social media content on SJCFD social media sites shall adhere to all applicable laws, regulations and policies including the records management and retention requirements set by law and regulation. 5. PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA a. No information, videos or pictures gathered while on SJCFD business (including emergency calls, meetings, drills, details, trainings or anything obtained on organization property or at organization functions) may be shared or posted in any format without the approval and written consent of the Fire Chief or the Fire Chief’s designee. b. Speech that impairs the performance of SJCFD, undermines discipline and harmony among co-workers, or negatively affects the public perception of SJCFD or San Juan County is prohibited and may be sanctioned. c. Social media content shall adhere to all applicable laws, regulations and SJCFD policies. 6. GUIDELINES FOR USE OF PERSONAL SOCIAL MEDIA a. Do not share confidential or proprietary information of SJCFD or San Juan County. b. Do not violate SJCFD or San Juan County policies and procedures. c. Do not display SJCFD or San Juan County logos, uniforms or similar identifying items without prior written permission. d. Do not publish any materials that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of SJCFD or San Juan County without authorization. 7. OWNERSHIP OF DATA AND MONITORING a. San Juan County owns the right to all data files in any San Juan County owned computer, network, cell phone or other information system. b. San Juan County also reserves the right to monitor electronic mail messages (including text and instant messaging systems) and their content created, viewed or accessed on San Juan County computers, networks and cell phones. 8. NONCOMPLIANCE a. Inappropriate use of social media may result in disciplinary actions, up to and including termination as an employee or volunteer member of SJCFD. b. SJCFD employees and volunteers must comply with San Juan County Computer Use Policy in addition to the San Juan County Fire Department Social Media Policy. Sample social media policy.

Courtesy of San Juan County Fire Department


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CHAPTER 4 Fire Officer Communications


contact information, etc. across all agency-related social media profiles is essential to awareness, recognition, and familiarity. Additionally, developing a social media presence before the onset of a crisis or emergency event will establish a response agency as a credible and authoritative source amidst a sea of voices. It is also essential that agencies maintain both on and offline communications, and ensure that all communications are consistent across all information channels.

Social media provide fire departments with a creative means to engage the community through a variety of channels and activities. Social media tools also provide the community with a voice and a means to participate in their own preparedness.

The report provided best practice examples of the following social media techniques. Details of these practices are covered in the Working in the Community chapter:

Getting in Front of a Controversial Issue Dave Statter, a retired TV reporter who runs STATter911 Communications, has warned about trends in news stories that end up becoming issues for fire departments across the United States. Most of these stories have dealt with budget concerns such as claims of excessive overtime, sick leave, and shift swapping. Clear patterns are evident in how those stories evolved in multiple jurisdictions across the country. Often these reports have hurt the image of fire fighters even when there has been no wrongdoing. In the presentation “Effective Communications in a Digital Age,” Statter provides this advice about facing down controversial issues: ■ Get your house in order now—before a political leader makes it an issue or a reporter starts asking questions. ■ Take corrective action on any abuses you uncover. ■ If you believe any problems you discovered are likely to become news, consider breaking the news yourself. ■ Be able to defend your policies publicly. ■ Change the policy if you are unable to defend it publicly.

Crowdsourcing for creative problem solving Online collaboration and multimedia information sharing ■ Developing creative and engaging content ■ Relationship building and community partnerships ■ Volunteer networks ■ Text campaigns ■ Incentification (causing someone to be excited about what you are offering) ■ Gamification (use of game-oriented thinking and game mechanics to engage users and solve problems) The frequency of social media outward messages should change depending on the current conditions. The public may not wish to receive multiple messages on a daily basis. During an emergency, however, the public may wish to receive updates as often as possible. Asking the community for their preferences for messaging frequency, and adjusting message frequency based on the feedback and target demographics, is a trust-building activity. ■ ■


ieutenant Williams realizes that dispatch did not understand the first radio message. With a slightly quavering voice, Williams reports that Quint 100 has a working basement fire in a townhouse with an occupant showing at a second-floor window. Fire fighters have fallen into the basement. Using clear and concise words, Williams calls for a second, or greater, alarm and an EMS mass-casualty response. The lieutenant confirms that the dispatcher understands and is sending help. Williams then calls the fire attack team. One of the members responds and provides a location, unit, name, assignment, and resource (LUNAR) report. The team is in the basement and appears to be in a laundry room. Most of the fire in the basement has been knocked down. One fire fighter appears to have a broken leg. The 360-degree size-up noted that the structure was two stories in the front and three stories in the rear. The rear includes a sliding glass door. Williams and the apparatus operator proceed to the rear, force open the sliding door, and are removing the injured fire fighter when a rising cacophony of sirens, air horns, and Jake brakes announces the impending arrival of help.

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Chief Concepts ■ ■


A fire officer must be able to process several types of information to supervise and support the fire company members effectively. Successful communication occurs when two people can exchange information and develop mutual understanding. The communication cycle includes five components: message, sender, medium, receiver, and feedback. An officer must be effective as both a sender and a receiver of information and, in many cases, as a processor of information that has to flow within the organization. To improve your listening skill, do not assume, do not interrupt, try to understand the need, and do not react too quickly. Directed questioning is a good method to keep a conversation on topic. A fire officer needs to have up-to-date information on the fire department’s standard operating guides, policies, and practices. Fire officers should keep their superior officers informed about progress toward goals and projects, potential controversial issues, fire fighter attitude, and morale. A flow of informal and unofficial communications is inevitable in any organization that involves people. The grapevine flourishes in the vacuum created when the official organization does not provide the workforce with timely and accurate information about work-related issues. Environmental noise can be counteracted by avoiding a power struggle, communicating clearly and firmly, carefully choosing words, confirming that the receiver understands the message, and providing consistent and appropriately detailed messages. The direct approach to emergency communications entails asking precise questions, providing timely and accurate information, and giving clear and specific orders. An officer should be as consistent as possible when sending verbal messages over the radio. The performance goal should be to sound the same and communicate just as effectively when reporting a minor incident as when communicating under intense stress. Following the on-scene size-up, you as the fire officer should provide an initial radio report that describes what you have, states what you are doing, and provides direction for other units that will be arriving. Radio communications are essential for emergency operations because they provide an instantaneous connection and can link all of the individuals involved in the incident to share important information. To create a useful report, the fire officer must understand the specific information that is needed and provide it in a ffactual manner that is easily interpreted.

The most common form of reporting is verbal communication from one individual to another, either face-to-face or via a telephone or radio. To be effective, the transfer of information must be clear and concise, using terminology that is appropriate for the receiver. Written reports vary in purpose, formality, and frequency. Examples include company journals, morning reports to the administrative fire officer, monthly activity and training reports, and incident reports. Informal reports are not considered official fire department permanent records. Formal reports are official fire department documents and are usually archived. When writing a report, the appropriate format should be used. It can range from an internal memo format with one or two pages of text to a lengthy formal report that includes photographs, charts, diagrams, and other supporting information. A verbal presentation of a written report should consist of four parts: an introduction that gets the audience’s attention, an interest statement, report details, and the action the audience should take. A news release allows a fire department to reach a large audience at virtually no cost. The release should always be structured to effectively promote a public education message, draw attention to the community’s risk problems, announce a new program or the opening of a new facility, or simply develop good public relations. Social media differ from traditional or corporate media in the areas of quality, reach, frequency, usability, immediacy, accuracy, reliability, and permanence. Each fire department should establish and regularly review its social media policy. Technology, court decisions, and high-profile incidents continue to shape the development of best practices. Video recordings create significant risk to the department. Posting videos on social media could interfere with an arson investigation, illegally identify a medical patient, or expose a crime victim. The effective use of social media introduces an element of immediacy that empowers citizens to share information with government, first responders, media, and one another, thereby complementing messages transmitted by radio, broadcast or cable TV, printed notices, and ham radio networks.

Hot Terms Chronological statement of events A detailed account of the fire company activities as related to an incident or accident. Company journal A log book at the fire station that creates an extemporaneous record of the emergency, routine activities, and special activities that occurred at the fire station. The company journal also records any fire

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fighter injuries, liability-creating events, and special visitors to the fire station. Environmental noise A physical or sociological condition that interferes with the message in the communication process. Expanded incident report narrative A report in which all company members submit a narrative on what they observed and which activities they performed during an incident. Formal communication An official fire department communication. Such a letter or report is presented on stationery with the fire department letterhead and generally is signed by a chief officer or headquarters staff member. General orders Short-term directions, procedures, or orders signed by the fire chief and lasting for a period of days to 1 year or more. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Enacted in 1996, federal legislation that provides for criminal sanctions and civil penalties for releasing a patient’s protected health information in a way not authorized by the patient. Informal communications Internal memos, e-mails, instant messages, and computer-aided dispatch/mobile data terminal messages. Informal reports have a short life and may not be archived as permanent records. Interrogatory A series of formal written questions sent to the opposing side of a legal argument. The opposition must provide written answers under oath. National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) A nationwide database at the National Fire Data Center under the U.S. Fire Administration that collects fire-related data in an effort to provide information on the national fire problem. Recommendation report A decision document prepared by a fire officer for the senior staff. Its goal is to support a decision or an action. Social media Digital communications through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, videos, pictures, and other content. Standard operating guidelines (SOGs) Written organizational directives that identify a desired goal and describe the general path to accomplish the goal, including critical tasks or cautions. Standard operating procedures (SOPs) Written organizational directives that establish or prescribe specific operational or administrative methods to be followed routinely for the performance of designated operations or actions. Supervisor’s report A form that is required by most state worker’s compensation agencies and that is completed by the immediate supervisor after an injury or property damage accident.

References and Additional Resources Baron, G. (2006). Now Is Too Late 2: Survival in an Era of Instant News. Bellingham, WA: Edens Veil Media. Benoit, J., and K. B. Perkins. (2001). Leading Career and Volunteer Firefighters: Searching for Buried Treasure. Halifax, NS: Henson College, Dalhousie University. Boyd, B. (2012). Social Media in Emergency Management. Bellingham, WA: Agincourt Strategies. Bramble, D. (2011). Facebook and the Fire Department: Who Is Using It and How? Emmitsburg, MD: U.S. Fire Administration, Executive Fire Officer Program. Brunacini, A. V. (1996). Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service. Stillwater, OK: Fire Protection Publications. Burke, M., et al. (2012, October 29). “Don’t Worry: Indian River Inlet Bridge Is There. Fake Photo Causes Flurry of Excitement.” DelawareOnline. Carpenter, Q. (2002, December 26). “Kid Drownings: After Decades of Failure, the Well-Intentioned Still Don’t Get It.” Phoenix (Arizona) New Times. Caulfield, H. J., and D. Benzaia. (1985). Winning the Fire Service Leadership Game. New York, NY: Fire Engineering. Center for Homeland Defense and Security. (2009). Ogma Workshop: Exploring the Policy and Strategy Implications of Web 2.0 on the Practice of Homeland Security. Monterey, CA: Naval Postgraduate School. Coombs, W. T. (2012). Ongoing Crisis Communication: Planning, Managing, and Responding, 3rd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Fire and Emergency Service Image Task Force. (2013). Taking Responsibility for a Positive Public Perception. Fairfax, VA: International Association of Fire Chiefs. Fire Chief’s Association. (2012, August 15). San Juan County Fire Department: Social Media Policy. Aztec, MN: San Juan County Fire Department. First Responder Communities of Practice Program and Virtual Social Media Working Group. (2012). First Responder Communities of Practice Virtual Social Media Working Group Social Media Strategy [Final]. Washington, DC: Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate. Gormley, W. T., and S. J. Balla. (2012). Bureaucracy and Democracy: Accountability and Performance, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press. Graham, D. H. (1999). The Missing Protocol: A Legally Defensible Report. Ashton, MD: Clemens Publishing. Harman, W., and G. Huang. (2011). The Path Forward: A Follow-up to The Case for Integrating Crisis Response with Social Media and a Call to Action for the Disaster Response Community. Washington, DC: American Red Cross. Havenstein, H. (2007, August 3). “LA Fire Department All ‘aTwitter’ over Web 2.0.” Computerworld. Hawkins, D. (2007, May). Communications and the Incident Management System. Issue Brief. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice. Herrman, J. (2012, October 30). “Twitter Is a Truth Machine. During Sandy, the Internet Spread—Then Crushed— Rumors at Breakneck Speed.” BuzzFeed FWD. Howard, A. (2011, March 7). Social Media in a Time of Need: How the Red Cross and the Los Angeles Fire Department Integrate Social Tools into Crisis Response. Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Radar.


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Sprouse, C. B. (2012). When Good People Make Bad Decisions: Assessing Decision Fatigue in Las Vegas Fire & Rescue. Emmitsburg, MD: U.S. Fire Administration, Executive Fire Officer Program. Tobias, E. (2011). “Using Twitter and Other Social Media Platforms to Provide Situational Awareness During an Incident.” Journal of Business Continuity & Emergency Planning 5(3): 208. U.S. Fire Administration. (1999). Developing Effective Standard Operating Procedures for Fire and EMS Departments. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency. U.S. Fire Administration. (2008). Voice Radio Communications Guide for the Fire Service. Washington, DC: Federal Emergency Management Agency. Walker, D. (2011). Mass Notification and Crisis Communications: Planning, Preparedness, and Systems. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press. Watson, C. (2012). Using Social Media to Communicate with the Occupants of Large Residential Buildings During Fire Emergencies. Emmitsburg, MD: U.S. Fire Administration, Executive Fire Officer Program. Weider, M., Ed. (2010). Fire Service Reputation Management White Paper. Berkeley Springs, WV: Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association. Weinschenk, C., et al. (2008). “Analysis of Fireground Standard Operating Guidelines/Procedures Compliance for Austin Fire Department.” Fire Technology 44(1): 39–64. Wenger, D. H., and D. Potter. (2011). Advancing the Story: Broadcast Journalism in a Multimedia World, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

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Howitt, A. M. and H. B. Leonard, Eds. (2009). Managing Crises: ReR sponse to Large-Scale Emergencies. Washington, DC: CQ Press. International Association of Fire Chiefs. (2011). Fire and EMS DeD partment Social Media Policy. Fairfax, VA: International AssociAssoc ation of Fire Chiefs. Non-English Keith, B. D. (2012). Improving Communication with Non-Englis Speaking Populations in the City of Dalton, Georgia. EmmitsEmmit burg, MD: U.S. Fire Administration, Executive Fire Officcer Program. ManLesperance, A., et al. (2010). Social Networking for Emergency Man agement and Public Safety. Oak Ridge, TN: Pacific Northwest Northwe National Laboratory, 95. Comprehensive Levy, J. M. (1998). Take Command of Your Writing: A Comprehensiv Guide to More Effective Writing. Campbell, CA: Firebelle ProPro ductions. Mills, S. E. (2012). Effective Emergency Operations Preparedness for fo Recurring Planned Public Events. Emmitsburg, MD: U.S. Fire Fi Administration, Executive Fire Officer Program. Murphy, M. (2013). “Social Media and the Fire Service.” Fire TechTech nology 49(1): 175–183. Program. Rakestraw, M. R. (1992). Management Communications Program Emmitsburg, MD: Executive Fire Officer Program. for Reid, D. B. (2012). Developing an Internal Communications Plan fo Strathcona County Emergency Services. Emmitsburg, MD: U.S. U. Fire Administration, Executive Fire Officer Program. Sonderman, J. (2012). Hurricane Sandy Tests Twitter’s Informatio Information Immune System. Poynter.

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The dispatch center provides Battalion Chief Johnson with a copy of the radio transmissions related to the townhouse fire. The initial on-scene radio report by Quint 100 was garbled. The dispatcher asked for a repeat of the message, but did not receive a reply. The next transmission came in response to the dispatcher’s question about whether the fire was out. Effective communication requires a coordination of verbal and written procedures, consideration of environmental factors, and awareness of information technology. 2. The townhouse fire resulted in a fire fighter mayday

tions sent to the opposing side of a legal argument. The opposition must provide written answers under oath. A. General orders B. Arbitration C. Interrogatory D. Chronological statement of events

and a serious civilian injury. In addition to the NFIRS report, which documentation will the supervising or managing fire officer complete? A. An expanded incident report narrative B. A PowerPoint presentation C. An informal report to the administrative fire officer D. A summary from a counseling session

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1. __________ is (are) a series of formal written ques-

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3. Lieutenant Williams is tasked with providing an

after-action presentation to the command staff. What is the first step in presenting a verbal presentation? A. Provide the presenter’s professional background. B. Paint a picture of what happens if nothing is done. C. Introduce your proposed action. D. Get the audience’s attention.

4. __________ is not part of the communication cycle. A. The medium B. Translation C. Feedback D. The receiver

Battalion Chief Johnson meets with Captain Davis to share the results from a recent senior command staff meeting. “We need to maintain our ability to handle life-threatening calls, serious transportation crashes, and structural fires with a smaller workforce. To make smart risk management decisions, we need to get a better understanding of which types of events Station 100 handles.” As the captain, Davis is the formal fire department representative to the communities served by Station 100.

NFPA Fire Officer II Job Performance Requirement 5.4.4 Prepare a news release, given an event or topic, so that the information is accurate and formatted correctly.

Application of 5.4.4 1. Prepare a news release for the community newspaper explaining how Station 100 will maintain its ability to

serve the neighborhood after nearby Fire Station 44 (engine and paramedic ambulance) is closed and Truck 112 is moved 15 miles farther away from the community at Fire Station 47.

NFPA Fire Officer II Job Performance Requirement 5.4.5 Prepare a concise report for transmittal to a supervisor, given fire department record(s) and a specific request for details such as trends, variances, or other related topics.

Application of 5.4.5 1. Using information from a fire department you are familiar with or have data access for, provide a five-year

analysis of one of the following department responses: • Emergency medical first responder calls • Activated fire alarms without smoke or fire • Cooking fires • Water-flow alarms without sprinkler activation. • “Fuel in the creek” or other petroleum spills • Lift assist or similar calls where the fire department is requested to move a patient after EMS is on the scene • Suspicious packages or “white powder” calls • Dumpster fires

NFPA Fire Officer II Job Performance Requirement 5.6.3 Prepare a written report, given incident reporting data from the jurisdiction, so that the major causes for service demands are identified for various planning areas within the service area of the organization. ©G Greg Henry enr nry ryy/Shu hutter tte Stoc tt tter Sto toc occk, k, Inc.

Application of 5.6.3 1. Using the annual statistical report of a fire department you are familiar with, evaluate one of the five most

common types of incidents that the department responds to, as divided by geographic planning area, such as the central business district. Which factors contribute to this workload? What can the fire department do to reduce the cost of handling those incidents by 25 percent?



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