CORNER BROOK — Being prepared, knowing your resources and knowing when to pull out of a dangerous situation are all important factors in incident command.
Nearly 40 people including firefighters and those involved in the fire service from Corner Brook, Stephenville, the Marine Institute’s Safety and Emergency Response Training Centre, Port Saunders, St. Anthony, Grand Falls-Windsor and Gander learned more about incident command from former Phoenix, Ariz. fire chief Alan Brunacini at the Pepsi Centre on Wednesday.
It was part of a two-day seminar led by Brunacini who spent 48 years as a firefighter with 28 of those years spent as chief.
He retired six years ago and since then has travelled all over North America leading seminars and training sessions.
Brunacini first started training other firefighters in the 1970s. The training he offers is based on fire command and command safety textbooks that he has written.
Two of his sons are also involved in the training programs, which are offered through the Blue Card Command Certification Program which includes an online training program.
Brunacini said every fire or every incident has its similarities and its differences.
“So you’ve got to operate kind of in between that,” Brunacini said. “They all have the same elements, it’s just that they’re kind of packaged up different in a sense of the proportion and the stage.”
Managing a department’s response to fires and other emergencies falls to the incident commander. And Brunacini said this is not an easy job.
He said a good incident commander is somebody who is technically competent, understands the work being done, has a calm, composed and good natured personality, is careful in the safety of his workers, considers the customer in limiting loss and protecting the things important to them, understands management and is flexible and resourceful.
“You need to simultaneously be flexible and dogmatic,” he said. “In other words, I’m going to be dogmatic about your safety, but if you tell me things are changing then I’ll respond to that in the process, but I’ll never give up things like our safety and protecting the customer.”
Brunacini said it’s important to know your resources before going into any situation and that will help in how you proceed.
“You do it first of all based on the resources that you have and then the stage of the fire, the condition of the building, the estimate that you would have of saveable occupants,” he said.
“Sometimes it’s just as simple as: Is there anything left to save? Can we protect the building? Can we protect the people?”
And there are other times, Brunacini said, when you have to recognize the fire has exceeded your capability to control it.
Statistically, he said the dangers facing firefighters are greater today. There may be fewer fires, but more firefighters are getting injured and killed.
“We call it a hazard zone and we’re going into a hazard zone and that’s a big deal. If you’re not careful and you don’t manage that effectively you don’t come out,” said Brunacini. “There’s a lot of uncertainty in what you do. You take on the whole world.”
On Tuesday, Brunacini talked to the group about customer service, the dynamics of dealing with customers and how departments do internal kinds of things to support them.
“When you call us you’re our customer and we’re going to treat you like you’re a customer too. You pay our salaries, you pay your taxes, you’ve prepaid for the service.”
Standard Functions of Command:
Assume, confirm and position command
— Situation evaluation
— Initiate, maintain and control communications
— Deploy appropriate resources
— Identify strategy and develop initial action plan
— Develop incident organization
— Review and revise strategy and initial action plan
— Transfer, support, terminate command
Source: Alan Brunacini