Firefighter Accountability Systems Save Lives
Firefighter Accountability System
Firefighter Accountability Systems save lives by keeping track of your fellow firefighters at a incident. See one in action here before designing your own. We carry the tools needed for you to operate an Accountability system efficiently.
We live in a very dangerous world. Even on a good day a firefighter's life can be filled with danger. It is imperative that we, as firefighters, take responsibility for our safety. A firefighter's incident priorities start with life safety. In that category, firefighters are taught that their number one priority for life safety is their own, followed by their fellow firefighters and then by everyone else. An accountability system and its use are designed along these same principles.
What is a Firefighter Accountability System and why is it needed?
A firefighter accountability system is a method/system designed to assist in keeping track of firefighters at an incident where they called to. These systems help to keep track of firefighters at an incident, making it easier for Rapid Intervention Teams (RIT) to locate downed or missing firefighters when things go wrong. RIT crews will know how many firefighters are missing, who is missing, and have a general idea of their last known location. This need for a personnel accountability system (PAS) is addressed in NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) standards 1500 and 1561.
What Accountability System is Best?
The answer to this is not that simple. What works for one department might not meet the needs of another. The primary goal of a firefighter accountability system is to develop a system that is effective. These systems aren't static either, by “develop” means a process of adjustments to make the system as efficient for your firefighters as possible. With your accountability goals in mind, keeping your system as simple and clean as possible will increase the chances of a successful implementation.
What features are most important for an effective firefighter accountability system?
First and foremost, all of your line officers must be 100% committed to using and enforcing your accountability system. Without their commitment, your system will fail. Secondly, all of your firefighters must realize the importance of the accountability system and be steadfast in its use by themselves and their fellow firefighters. Sure, it's one more thing they have to remember to do, but with consistent application, it will become muscle memory. Also, make sure you have a written standard operating procedure (SOP) detailing your system. This will help to ensure consistency from one firefighter to the next. Finally, make sure that your system satisfies NFPA 1500 and 1561.
Some of the Firefighter Accountability System Products we Carry
Where do I start with designing a Firefighter Accountability System?
To start, define what you want to accomplish with your accountability system. Next, review NFPA 1500 and 1561 to ensure your SOPs will meet these standards. This will prevent you from having to write your SOPs twice. Once that is settled, research the systems that your surrounding companies (especially mutual aid companies) are using. This will help with continuity when your company responds to a large incident. Many departments use a two tag system. One tag is deposited in the apparatus to indicate which firefighters are on scene (very important element for volunteer companies). The second tag is used as an entry permit to the hazard zone. Given to the accountability officer upon entry and retreived at exit.
Visualize and discuss the features of your plan with your officers. Their input is important as they all must believe in and enforce the system. Their commitment is imperative to the success of the system. Once you have an SOP prepared, review it with your officers and make any necessary changes. Next, implement your accountability system. Brief and train your firefighters. Make sure they understand the importance of their commitment to the accountability system, monitor the effectiveness of the system and make adjustments as necessary. Finally, and most importantly, stay safe!
An accountability system is designed with your safety in mind. You, as a firefighter must make every effort to use the system as designed by your department. Your safety and that of your fellow firefighters depend on you doing your part. When things go sideways for you and you get in trouble, your fellow firefighters will have an idea of your last known location, saving valuable time in trying to reach you. The less time they spend looking for you the better the outcome!