Firefighter Training Drill: The Survival Essentials - Progress Reports

Firefighter training drill by Forest Reeder

Next up in the Survival Essential Series is a drill that will have your firefighters reviewing the different types of incident progress reports that are required to keep all companies and the incident commander (IC) on the same page during emergency scene operations.

 I hope you understand the importance of this drill as part of the Survival Essentials Series, as there are many missed communication cues and incomplete communications that have been identified in numerous line-of-duty deaths and near-miss incidents. All members should be equipped with a portable radio and there should be a fixed-position IC working from a mobile radio, backed up by a trained and assigned dispatcher working on a base station radio. Going beyond that, all those who are assigned a radio must know WHEN specific events occur and at WHAT times that progress reporting should occur. Consider some progress reporting benchmarks as:

  • When an assignment is or cannot be complete
  • When resources are needed or can be released
  • When a time interval has elapsed (every 10 minutes)

Once these and others have occurred, consider WHAT you would say. Do you have a set way of transmitting this report? Consider the following questions that can be used, and are also in a handy and easy to remember acronym CAN:

  • What are your conditions
  • What actions are you taking
  • What are your needs

Tie all of this together with discussions on what you would DO when reports come back on the radio. Consider these factors:

  • What would you do if the report is not consistent with your observations?
  • What would you do if the report is incomplete?
  • What if the communication equipment fails?

As a resource, search for fireground radio traffic clips and listen closely to what is being said by who.  Identify different levels of communications and how a disciplined fireground sounds.

Download this article as a PDF HERE.

See also Drill of the Week: The CAN Report.

Firefighting drills by Forest ReederForest Reeder began his fire service career in 1979. He currently serves as Division Chief of Training & Safety for the Des Plaines (IL) Fire Department. He is a past recipient of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) prestigious George D. Post Instructor of the Year award and has been responsible for the design, implementation and coordination of in-service firefighter training activities as well as a full-service fire training academy program. Forest holds numerous Illinois fire service certifications and holds a Masters Degree in Public Safety Administration from Lewis University.

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