Firefighter Training, Fireground Management, Leadership

Fireground Safety for the Company Officer

Pleasantview (IL) Battalion Chief Forest Reeder’s course, “Fireground Safety for the Company Officer,” dealt directly with the company officer’s key responsibilities to ensure operational safety during fireground operations. Reeder noted that although many company officers are excellent tactical decision makers and will complete the tasks they are assigned, others may lack the experience necessary to act as a true “company safety officer.” Reeder presented PowerPoint slides, video clips, still photos, and a detailed student manual that contained text information and worksheets for in-class student applications.

Reeder also spoke of Firefighter Brian Carey, a graduate of Reeder’s Illinois fire academy who perished in a dwelling fire on March 30th of this year.

He presented to the class examples of the most hazardous areas of fireground operations and identified how a company officer should keep his crews safe. Reeder also encouraged attendees to rethink some typical tactical assignments when they are presented with hazardous fire and building conditions. “Company officer responsibility in safety and survival should be the true promotional assessment center. Officers must know these duties at a mastery level of performance.”

Reeder added, “My class emphasized the importance of a company officer hazard awareness associated with major fireground tasks such as fire attack, search, and ventilation. Attendees learned and reinforced identifying “watch-out” conditions and activities when performing fireground operations.”

Additional information on this topic can be found in Reeder’s and Brian Kazmierzak’s article, “The Company Officer: The Perfect Training Officer,” which appeared in the July 2009 issue of Fire Engineering.  Reeder is also a regular contributor to Drill of the Week on fireengineering.com.