Friday, November 19, 2010


I could tell he was elated. He was almost bubbly, he was so happy. The fire was out, the mutual aid units were sent home and no one got hurt. As this was his first fire as incident commander, he had good reason to be pleased.

That he was in charge was an anomaly in itself. As an engineer, his responsibility was primarily for the safe transport of personnel and equipment to emergency and non-emergent incidents. Of course, one of his ancillary duties is to be in charge while the captain is away, hence his authority on this day.

It wasn't really that much of a fire. A grass fire in the early afternoon, a couple of acres in size. Moderate temperature and humidity as well as a light wind helped resolve the issue. As the fire was on the border with two other agencies, plenty of resources were available to jump on it with little delay.

Our hero arrived first, automatically making him in charge, at least initially. He calmly broadcast a solid report on conditions and made the initial assignments for our agency. As he knew that units were responding from the neighboring departments, he switched to their frequencies, .gave them assignments and assigned them a common radio channel to make communications easier.

Then, he went to work, assisting the crew in starting the hose-lay. When the district commander arrived, things were well under way, with the desired outcome clearly in sight. The district commander decided to let our hero keep command and use it as a training tool.

Our hero and the district commander were both surprised when the Deputy Chief arrived a few minutes later, followed by the Special Services Division Chief. Both were returning from a meeting and were nearby when the call when out.

The Incident Commander continued to monitor the progress of his charges as they worked up both flanks of the fire and met at the head. The dragon was slain, all that was left was to mop up the remains. The three chief officers monitored his actions and offered no advice as none was required.

Units were released as their assignments were completed and the chiefs moved on to more important things. The ICS was terminated and the incident was closed. A job well done by a novice incident commander.

That is the beauty of how the K.B.F.P.D. trains and tests its engineers. We understand that on an engineer's very first day in the position, he may be called upon to act as captain. We also realize that when someone is acting as captain, even for the first time, that person may have an incident which involves multiple units and agencies.

That's why our engineer's test involves a lot of captains stuff and a lot of command theory. You just never know when an engineer is going to need those skills.

This event also shows the beauty of the ICS. It does not care about rank, it is based upon function and qualifications.

Regardless, our engineer/hero had good reason to be elated, he and the system both succeeded. Succeeded under the pressure of having three chief officers, five captains and eighteen firefighters watching his every move.

Thanks for reading,


  1. Yipee!!! Very nice job and very well written. Thanks Cpt!


  2. Yeah, he done good. I expect when I pull the pin in a few years, he will be taking the test. Who knows, he may even get my spot!

    Thanks for the comments.