INCIDENT REPORT GUIDELINES FOR AUTHORS
In creating an incident report, provide as much relevant detail as possible. Describe the incident, preplanning, actions taken; incident changes and resulting tactical changes; postincident analysis and critique; and suggestions for similar future incidents. Departments may use this information for firefighter education and training, so focus on these aspects of the incident.
· Provide incident specifics.
--Timing. Include start time, end time, and elapsed time. If relevant, mention factors delaying or expediting response and deployment; factors extending or shortening incident; and any suggestions for improving future response.
--Assessments. Describe initial incident assessment, any preplanning and its application, anticipated and unanticipated changes, resulting strategic and logistic adjustments, and why such were or were not required. In postincident analysis, critique actions taken, suggesting improvements for the future.
–Personnel deployment. “Two firefighters entered and commenced interior operations,” or “One firefighter began roof ventilation” is adequate. Specific rank and name need not be included unless relevant. Describe personnel deployment and reasons for any tactical changes at incident. Note total firefighter injuries or deaths, and suggest ways to avoid these in the future.
--Diagram of fire scene. This should show location/deployment of companies, apparatus and hoselays, incident command center; fire building/incident site/exposures (including pertinent details: windows, doors, stairs, room layouts, contents, and dimensions). Note relevant environmental factors. The diagram should be neat, and easily understood.
--Photos. Photos should illustrate important aspects of the incident and its mitigation. Captions should be accurate, detailed, and specific. Keep in mind training aspects. Photos may be slides or prints; send the full name of the photographer, mailing information, and photo captions. Never write directly on the backs of prints; use labels or stickers for identification purposes.
Submit electronic photos and art in the following format: Image Resolution: 300 DPI (dots per inch); Mode: CMYK color; File Format: EPS, TIFF, or JPEG; Submission Format: regular computer disk, ZIP disk, CD, or e-mail. Important: When e-mailing photos, send in the smallest possible size and compress if necessary. All electronic photo submissions must follow this format, or they will not be accepted.
–Units called, when, and why. “Two engine companies, an aerial ladder, and one tanker were called.” Specific information about units (“Midvale Hose Co. No. 2, Millville Ladder Co. 3” should be included only if relevant. The reason for calling and method of deployment is more important.
–Report total firefighter injuries or death occurring as a result of the incident. Discuss how casualties occurred, and ways to avoid them in future incidents.
· Complete list of lessons learned or reinforced—the most important part of report.
--Lessons learned/reinforced. What insights into incident management, strategy, or logistics were gained or reinforced at this incident? Some may be complex, some may be simple—include them all. Be as thorough as possible. Include any possible useful information. Be specific—“Mutual aid worked really well,” for example, is too vague. How did it help? How did it not? What could be improved?
--Investigation findings. Report the results of any subsequent fire investigations and the relationship to established codes or standards. Note any arson evidence, code violations, hazardous conditions not covered by applicable codes, and anything germane to the origin of the incident. Report any findings contradicting initial assessment at time of incident, or unusual discoveries.
Send photo submissions and queries to Diane Rothschild, Fire Engineering, 21-00 Route 208 South, Fair Lawn, NJ 07410. Telephone: (800) 962-6484, ext. 5047. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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