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firefighter safety

Hands-Free Driving Laws are a Bad Idea

Before you get too upset and refuse to read this article, I’ll ask you to give me just two minutes to explain the situational awareness lesson behind this statement. The first premise is: We must acknowledge (and accept) that it is easy for drivers to get distracted and have their situational awareness impacted while talking […]

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Tracking of Personnel

Accountability: A critically important component of emergency scene safety when personnel operates in a hazardous environment. From the perspective of situational awareness, accountability plays several roles. The obvious role is personnel accountability facilitates the rapid deployment of rescue teams if something goes awry. Command knows the crew sizes and where they are operating and can

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It’s Only A Vehicle Fire!

I’d like to thank one of the loyal Situational Awareness Matters readers (whose name and department I am holding in confidence) for sending me a picture and a story about a van fire, no, a ‘routine van fire‘ his department had recently. On the arrival of the engine, the officer reported a working fire and

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Situational Awareness Lessons from a Line of Duty Death

Watch this  YouTube video detailing the circumstances of a firefighter line of duty death in which a firefighter from British Columbia was tragically killed when a shipping container exploded without warning. Oftentimes when a firefighter is killed in the line of duty the lessons are not shared. Credit to the department and the province for

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Situational Awareness Matters!

Time to Task Completion is Critical for Situational Awareness

Your highest level of situational awareness is formed when you are able to make accurate predictions about future events. In science, we call this projection and it simply means you are able to predict, or project, future events. This is accomplished through mental models you develop that are founded in your training and experience. But

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What You Don’t See Can Save You

I dedicate a lot of time during my situational awareness programs ensuring that first responders understand how clues and cues serve as the foundation for developing and maintaining good situational awareness. We also spend considerable time making the connection of how strong situational awareness becomes the foundation for good decision making. For the most part,

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Three types of stress

In this article, we discuss three types of stress: Acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. First responders can, and often do, experience all three. Stress can impact firefighter situational awareness and, equally concerning, stress can have devastating long-term impacts. As I was writing this article I recalled various times during my thirty years

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Understaffing Impacts Situational Awareness

Understaffing can have a big impact on first responder safety. We all know that. But it can also have a huge impact on first responder situational awareness… more than I ever imagined. I have experienced understaffing issues many times throughout my career but I never gave much thought to how my situational awareness was being

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The Overconfident Incompetent

There are four levels of progression a person goes through in the development of competence. The pathway begins with a complete unawareness of how little a person knows and progresses to a complete unawareness of how much a person knows. There is a dangerous cognitive phenomenon that can occur along this continuum known as the

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