Another False Alarm: A Tale of Complacency

Complacency is a big deal for first responders because it impacts your situational awareness on multiple levels. I would like to give every responder the benefit of the doubt that if or when they have found him or herself being complacent that it wasn’t happening on purpose. In other words, I hope every responder desires […]

No SOPs = No Game Plan

  I have many opportunities to talk with first responders about the importance of having Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) or Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs). These documents are essential to the safety of responders because they set the standard for training and for incident operations.        

Situational Awareness Begins With Knowing Your Equipment

I received an email from a firefighter who was frustrated, disappointed, and angry. He came to work for his shift and, as he always does, started his day by performing a safety check of his personal gear and his self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA). When he opened the cabinet door on the apparatus he could hardly […]

Penalties and Discipline Will Not Improve Safety

I read with great interest (and concern) an article recently published about how the San Francisco Fire Department is being fined $21,000 by state investigators for violations to safety laws that led to the deaths of two firefighters on June 2. My concern for this action is not an attempt, in any way, to diminish […]

The “Minor” Mayday

Is there such a thing? A “Minor” Mayday. [tweet this] A crew operating in an IDLH environment suddenly find themselves in a tough spot because _____ (you insert the reason). The crew leader’s situational awareness is, at least at that moment, strong as he or she immediately realizes the potential gravity of the situation and […]

Nine considerations when evaluating incident command software

As you attend conferences that have vendor display areas, pay attention to how many incident management software vendors claim to have programs that can “develop situational awareness” in first responders. This claim is often founded on the belief that as the software is able to capture, assemble and display layers and layers of data that, […]

Technology can help and hurt situational awareness

You don’t have to look far and wide to locate cleaver marketing campaigns that make outrageous claims to improve our lives or solve our problems. I’ve been noticing this trend now as it relates to products claiming they “create” situational awareness. I was recently at a conference and had an opportunity to have a discussion […]

Working Command and Situational Awareness

I seem to be getting asked a lot lately about what the first arriving company officer should do at a working structure fire. Specifically, the debate revolves around two basic premise. Should the first arriving company officer assume a fixed command position outside the structure and coordinate the activities of incoming units? Or, should the […]

The Two Headed Incident Commander

A subscriber to the Situational Awareness Matters newsletter recently sent me a photograph of an emergency incident scene that caused me to reflect on a very important situational awareness lesson. This lesson, unfortunately, is often overlooked and is often implicated as a contributing factor to near-miss and casualty events. Let’s spend a little time examining […]

Noise Impacts Situational Awareness

This week I had the honor of visiting and receiving a tour of the Hong Kong Fire Department training center. Many of the props used there are similar to what I have seen in the United States. However, there was one very noticeable difference in the maze they use to train firefighters. Noise! They use […]

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