Battalion Chief Anthony Kastros (Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Fire District). 

“Today’s fireground should be a calm and orchestrated event, but often it is not,” according to Battalion Chief Anthony Kastros (Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Fire District). At his Monday workshop, “Mastering Fireground Command: Calm the Chaos!” Kastros noted that with fewer fires, mass attrition, and little or no command training, in today’s fire service, the simple “bread and butter” house fire is a sentinel event. Radio traffic is unclear, and basic mistakes are made regularly.

According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the top five line-of duty death (LODD) operational causal factors on the fireground surround size-up, command, communications, accountability, and SOPs.

Using simulations to confront these issues, Kastros synthesized the components of tactics and strategy, standard operation procedures (SOPs) and the incident command system (ICS), key factors for firefighters to drastically improve the way they command their next incident or handle their upcoming assessment center.

“Don’t believe the lie that you cannot prepare for the test and the job at the same time. The military, airlines, and NASA do it, and it’s about time the fire service did!” Kastros asserted. These high-risk fields have relied on simulations for years. Simulation software is not just for test preparation; it’s also a great tool for making great fireground officers.

Students reviewed radio traffic and video of actual incidents. In addition, the workshop used simulation software to size up and organize commercial, residential, garden/center hall apartments, high-rise, wildland, MCI, and hazardous materials incidents.

An instructor at FDIC for three years, Anthony Kastros is author of the article “Mastering the Art of Fireground Command: Calming the Chaos” (Fire Engineering, March 2011); the “Mastering the Fire Service Assessment Center” book and video series (Fire Engineering, 2006); and the three-part DVD series, “Mastering Fireground Command: Calming the Chaos” (Fire Engineering, 2011).

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