Firefighter Training Drill: Safety Officer: Prioritize Hazards

By Forest Reeder

After an incident safety officer identifies a hazard, it must be evaluated in relation to how urgent the management of the hazard is. You are beginning the process of evaluating the hazards, actions, and conditions that could cause injury or death if not corrected by the safety officer. Your evaluation of the hazards requires you to apply risk management to the hazard that has been identified. Some hazards are part of the operation and must be monitored for changes or have control methods applied to them. Other hazards require you to take action based on your own interpretation of the severity and potential for injury or death. You will need to evaluate the hazard and breaking them into categories. Two accepted categories used in this process are to classify the hazard as imminent or potential.

  • Imminent Hazards must be stopped, altered, corrected immediately upon discover by the safety officer. These actions then should be relayed to the incident commander (IC) and become part of the formal analysis of the incident.
  • Potential Hazards must be identified and evaluated for severity and information about that hazard should be passed along to everyone in that zone as well as the operations section and incident command.

Review the 10 suggested incident hazards and determine if they present an imminent (requiring immediate action) or potential (requiring awareness and monitoring) for each situation. Discuss how you would make notification to the members involved, the IC, and what your mitigation strategy would be.

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Firefighter Training 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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