Monday, September 10, 2012

Redefining the Engine Company - The Concept

Organizations of all types see changes to the way they must operate. Economical climates, market trends and even the lack of service needs, dictate organizational structure, operating budgets and production. The Fire Service is not immune to these symptoms nor should they be overlooked. From the largest of Metro/Urban departments to the smallest of rural volunteer, organizational leaders must devise strategies and tactics to ensure the level of service we provide, is never compromised. Enter the new definition of the Engine Company.

The epiphany, for me at least, came a year ago. Preparing to teach at the academy I was reading through a well-known basic Firefighter text-book. Towards the beginning of the book the authors breakdown the different types of companies and their functions. Thinking to myself, "it would be nice to operate like this." Just to clarify I work for three very different organizations and I am very thankful for being able to see all sides. My experience has been riding as the "all-purpose" engine. Suppression, ladders, rescue, extrication, water supply...if it happens on the fire ground, the engine company performs it. So where is this department that the text-book talks about with all their companies? They should re-define the term, engine company, to reflect how the modern engine company really operates. To read more about the basics of Redefining the Engine Company, click this link.

So what is this concept all about? Some say we are doing more with less. Which is not possible, we can only do less with less. What we can do is realign what our priorities are based on the situation, our abilities and what we do have. Our success on the fire ground comes from our accomplishments off of it. Engine configuration such as tool selection and storage. Hose loads and setup that fit form and function. Realistic SOPS/SOGS that empower initial arriving units to make solid tactical decisions. Training programs that reflect how personnel will perform real world actions.Most importantly, our members understand the modern fire ground is dynamic and changing. We have such a short window to operate, so we must be efficient and get it right the first time.

Will you find all the answers here? No. Redefining the Engine Company concept is about questions. The fire service cannot afford to simply go with the flow, we must stop and question our actions. Are we operating and training to win on the fire ground? Just as sports teams scout their competition, we too must stay ever vigilant so we will be prepared for the call.

So if you are interested in helping to the Redefine the Engine Company join in on the conversation. This blog will serve as one resource, while you can find our groups on other social media sites.

"The traditional engine company role of securing a water supply and stretching the line is still a basic function. However, on the modern fireground, the engine company must simultaneously perform multiple roles while getting water on the fire. The engine company today must be refined and redefined to do more tasks with less than ever before. Therefore, it is essential that your training and standard operating guidelines match what really happens in the street, not in some standard text from a large urban department that has the traditional complement of different companies. It is now up to you to examine your operations and redefine how your engine will respond to these challenges."

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