Volunteer Chief's Aide
Why don't we use them?
by WithTheCommand.com Staff
In the early 80's I worked the
night shift. Before traveling home about 50 miles from work I would travel
to the fire station where I volunteered to sleep during the day time.
It was my way of helping and volunteering while catching up on my sleep.
One afternoon we got a box
alarm. If you were slow to get out of bed, there was a good chance you'd
will miss the first piece out the door. Well on the alarm I did not make
the first piece out the door There was no second crew. The chief had not
left yet so, I walked over and got in the chief's car and away we went.
The box ended up as a good intend call no service was needed. As the chief
parked next to the engine, he told me to get on the engine and told the
driver on the engine to mention to everyone that he does not drive fire
fighters to calls.
Ever since that call I have
always wondered why volunteer chief's don't utilize the use of a fire fighter
for a chief's aide? Large metropolitan fire department have chief's aides,
these fire fighters learn very quickly that the Incident Command System
and are a proven asset.
Being alone the chief doesn't
have a person with him so he can do one of three options. Look up the address
before responding, this option will be the only option for chiefs responding
from home where there is no chief's aide available. Go ahead of his company's
apparatus, travel in the direction of the call while watching other apparatus
responding to follow and or looking for the address in the map book as
he drives, or follow the apparatus due from his company. To most experienced
chief officer's this is all elementary, but for new chief's an aide to
assist him in these function could make all the difference in the world.
by Jim Davis
Take a look at what a chief
officer has to do before he reaches the scene.The alarm is sounded and
right away the chief listens for the address. Most chief officers in my
area know their first and second due area's very well. So the location
is usually not a problem.
But if the chief does not
recognize the address he must look it up in the map book before responding.
This duty is the responsibility of the engine, truck, squad or ambulance
officer responding to a call. And the driver of these pieces of apparatus
have a good idea in which direction to approach before the address is located
in the map book.
Chiefs responding to a call
have a greater amount of distractions than the average automobile operator
with a cell phone. This is another reason to have a chief's aide with you,
either let the aide drive the chief's vehicle or let the aide manage the
radio traffic combined with looking up the address and preplans of the
the alarm has been answered chiefs must manage the enroute radio traffic
combine with operating a vehicle at sometimes high speeds with agile moves
through traffic. This combination has wrecked many chiefs cars. Think
about it, some states have banned the use of cell phones while driving.
The incidents of auto accidents due the use of cell phones has risen
to a level where it has become a problem.
While enroute the chief officer
has been informed by communications that he will be the chief officer for
this incident. The chief will have to listen to all radio traffic and respond
to communication with instructions when needed. In the initial stages of
a call, the chief must recognize or be told by communication that he has
minimal staffing for all units responding. While operating a vehicle with
a radio microphone in one hand steering wheel in the other and sometime
reaching for a pen to write down note, the chief is quite pre-occupied.
The chief has heard all the
units responding and on the information received by communication is satisfied
on the initial responding staffing levels with one unit under staffed.
Before arriving on the scene
communications informs you they have had multiple calls on this incident
and the first arriving unit went on the scene with level one operations.
Do you remember which unit was under staffed? Communications will inform
you of which unit is under staffed and ask you if you like an additional
piece. This we know, but there is always the things that go wrong.
Lets say your radio goes
south and you now find yourself not able to communicate with anyone. You
have not arrived on the scene yet but the first arrive engine company has;
who has the command now?
Communications keeps calling
you but you don't respond. Communications doesn't know your radio has stopped
working. All they know is something has happen to you. You arrive at the
scene assuming you have the command but because you have not answered communications.
Command has been passed to someone else. You have no knowledge communications
has done this. What would be your first order of command now? Will
you start your size up while trying to locate a radio? You could send the
aid to locate a radio and tell communication that the chief is on the scene
and has the command. Would a chief's aid help benefit the chief officer
in this mass confusion? Additionally won't it make the responds safer for
the public and chief officer?
Would a chief's aid help
benefit the chief officer in this mass confusion? Additionally won't it
make the responses safer for the public and chief officer?
This is just an example
of what could go wrong. And most officers will dismiss this situation is
not going to happen to them. I do remember this happening and the result
was an on-the-air audio argument once the initial chief found a working
radio with communications and the officer who the command was passed to.
To have a chief's aide will give the chief officer another set of hands.
The aide will perform the task of other duties as assigned.
All of us at one time or
another has seen this typed into our job description. And it is in place
for those operational needs you just don't think about or has never come
up. The chief's aide must understand this role and only perform duties
assign to him by the chief.
One benefit could be if you
arrive on the scene of a working fire at the same time as the first arriving
apparatus that is under staffed. The chief could instruct the aid to make
up staffing for that engine company.
Fire fighting is not an
exact science; to prepare for the worst is one of jobs that is why we drill,
train, prepare preplans, etc. Go the extra mile, have an extra pair
of eyes, ears and hands to help you manage incidents more effectively.
Having a chief's aide will send a message that you are taking that extra
initiative in being prepared for the unexpected. This is not a sermon,
just a thought.