Know Before You Go!

Ron Kanterman

Chief Kanterman’s Journal Entry 57

Know Before You Go (KbyG)

You see this logo above? It needs to be as familiar to the fire service as the logos of the NFFF Everyone Goes Home program, the IAFF, and the IAFC. It stands for effectiveness, efficiency, safety and longevity. It’s a real but very simple concept. Know your response district like your own home and be ready for battle. If you’re Chief, start writing your policy. If you’re a firefighter send it up the line. Do it today.

My long-time friend, brother, associate, colleague, and college classmate Jack Murphy (all around good guy, smart guy, code guy, and FE Life Time Achievement Award recipient) posted an article on in February entitled “Launching a KbyG Mentality on Gathering Building Intelligence.” It captured me immediately being a fellow fire prevention guy and a firefighter safety advocate. We’ve been urging firefighters and fire departments (and Chiefs!) to get out and learn their first due (and second due) areas for years and to even reach out to their mutual aid partners to at least get information on target hazards. There has been much discussion regarding pre-planning over the years and now the buzz is “battle planning.” It’s not enough to know the building and “to gather intelligence,” as Murphy would say. You need to have a battle plan. An actual plan of attack, specifically for your target hazards, e.g. high-rise buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, etc. is what you should be discussing and implementing in your firehouse. Murphy along with Deputy Chief James Murtagh (FDNY-ret) and Battalion Chief Jerry Tracy (FDNY-ret) are co-authoring a high-rise firefighting. It will be THE book on the subject when it’s completed and published by Fire Engineering Books & Videos, due out some time this year. Included in this book is battle planning in high rise buildings, floor by floor. Sound tedious? It is. Long-time colleague Deputy Chief Vinny Dunn (FDNY-ret) is writing and lecturing extensively on the subject of battle planning. All of this leads to know be for you go, KbyG.  

There are hundreds of reasons to adopt this policy, buzz phrase, concept, good idea and work ethic. Most prominent for me is the ability to know your district, have a good idea of what you’re going to do when you get there and to help ensure safety on the fire ground.

Here are a couple of excerpts from Murphy’s article:

“Since the Frank Brannigan era, the fire service has been talking about preplanning, yet it is often the path least traveled by fire suppression units. These firefighters confront the enemy every day with little or no critical knowledge about the buildings in their response districts.

Often in the fire service, the word “preplanning” is associated with the Bureau of Fire Prevention and Code Enforcement.  As firefighters, one of things that takes us outside our comfort zone is responding to a fire and/or an all-hazard (non-fire) emergency in a structure that we are not familiar with. Fire suppression units may find themselves not too familiar with some buildings within a company’s response district, less familiar with buildings outside their response district, and even less acquainted with other adjoining municipalities for mutual-aid calls.

However, a fire company can diminish this unfamiliarity by adopting a “Know Before You Go” (KbyG) mentality to deal with building uncertainties. To better understand these uncertainties, a fire unit should perform a building “recon” to gather its intelligence. This KbyG mentality will support “battle plan” actions from initial operations through mitigation.  Performing a fire company building recon can open firefighter’s eyes and thought process as to how a specific building will react in a fire or non-fire emergencies….

Future KbyG features will help firefighters to reduce fireground uncertainty that is building specific and improve a fire company’s ability to reduce risk and meet their fiduciary needs.”

Be well, stay well, be safe.

Ronnie K

This commentary reflects the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Fire Engineering. It has not undergone Fire Engineering‘s peer-review process.

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