Throw Back to Basics: Riding Assignments

Board indicating ridiing assignments for firefighters.

By Brian Zaitz

Have you ever been to a fire where, as the first-due company, you are making a knock on the fire room and you request a crew with hooks to open the ceiling, but command has three crews in staging all with irons? Or, worse yet, the crews report to command with no tools?  Or have you ever arrived third- or fourth-due only to wonder what you are going to do this fire? These are issues that face many of us, especially those of us responding without dedicated engine and truck companies. The key to eliminating these issues is to have clearly defined preferred operating methods and riding assignments for our personnel. These are not meant to stifle the minds of our crews, but act as a guide and reminder to assist in the operation.

Riding assignments and riding boards provide for clearly defined roles, tools assignments, and fireground expectations. Like the old line goes, “if you never wrote it down, it never happened.” The same could be said for the fireground–if you never set the expectation or state it to your crew, you cannot expect it to happen.

Daily riding boards are great for career personnel who may rotate through apparatus. They provide clear expectations for the operations of that firefighter riding in that position for that shift. Riding assignments are  another version of this concept and work great for volunteer organizations because staffing levels can fluctuate; these riding assignments can be posted on the seat or in the station as a guide so firefighters know what is expected when they are the officer, ride backwards, or engineer the apparatus.

This training bulletin provides a template for riding assignments and riding boards. It is not a cut-and-paste job for your department–riding assignments and operations are specific to your organization’s staffing, training, apparatus cache, and building environment. Take the time to set the expectation!

Download this drill as a PDF HERE (198 KB).

Brian Zaitz is a 14-year student of the fire service, currently assigned as the captain/training officer with the Metro West (MO) Fire Protection District. Brian is an instructor with Engine House Training, LLC as well as instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy.  Brian holds several degrees, including an associates in paramedic technology, a bachelors in fire science management, and a masters in human resource development. Brian is currently and accredited chief training officer and student of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program.



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