Ottawa Fire Services Establishes Operational Guide for First-Arriving Company Officers

In 2014, Ottawa (ON, Canada) Fire Services (OFS) and the membership of the Ottawa Professional Firefighter Association (OPFFA) agreed to include a number of officer/supervisor courses as a requirement for promotion within the department. One of these new courses would be based on an operational guide and would serve as a foundation for each level of company officer. A call for applicants to form a workgroup to assemble a document was issued to OFS personnel. The workgroup was comprised of different ranks from active suppression and training firefighters. We were given free rein to produce a document that would best suit the OFS. Since the OFS is a composite Fire Service, with approximately 500 volunteers and 1000 full-time firefighters, it was imperative that this document reflects the needs of all OFS firefighters.

The Operational Guide (OG) is a guide for fire ground practices and will be part of the reference material for the promotional process of the OFS.  It has been developed primarily to outline the basic responsibilities of the first-arriving company officers of the OFS and is limited to vital information on “strategy and tactics.” No single document can capture all of the information about such a broad and diverse subject. For this reason this document focuses on clear initial actions and communications for all officers on scene.

The guide stresses the importance of identifying situation-types based on building occupancy and/or building use rather than solely on building construction type, while also taking into consideration current minimum running assignments used by the OFS.

The guide was developed with the expectation that all personnel will have experience, knowledge and a good understanding of all OFS documents, pertaining to emergency scenes, including standard operating procedures and any training material provided to them throughout their career. It is to be used by OFS personnel for the safe mitigation of all fire emergencies. It should be understood that this is a living document that will be updated, amended, and expanded whenever circumstances require.

Information from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) was evaluated and incorporated into the OG along with National Fire protection Association (NFPA) standards. The OG is intended to organize the initial responding resources at a fire scene for various Occupancy Types. High Rise/High Risk, Residential and Commercial/Industrial (being finalised) are the categories for the various Occupancy Types.

The first three chapters were compiled and revised by the work group numerous times, then reviewed by a proof-reader, corrected and submitted to OFS firefighters for comments and concerns. More revisions to the OG were made addressing these comments and concerns. The OG is a living document that will be revised as required.

The work group members have spent numerous hours at meetings and countless hours on their own time researching and composing the OG. The workgroup discussed providing the OG to the general Public, this was suggested to and agreed to by OFS management. Here are the reasons for posting the OG publicly:

1.     Readily available access to OFS firefighters anywhere and anytime.

2.    Access for firefighters from OFS and other departments to:

a.       Review, submit comments and/or concerns

b.      For firefighters from other departments to adopt and adapt to their department’s requirements if so desired

The OFS is currently utilizing the OG at incidents and by all reports it is being well received.

Post Incident Analysis, information from recognized organizations and comments or concerns from personnel from other Fire Services/Departments as well as OFS personnel will be reviewed on an ongoing basis. The OG will then be updated as required.

As members of the OG workgroup move on, new members will take up the torch and continue to make improvements keeping the document in line with current industry practices and standards.

The OG workgroup would like to thank OFS personnel, OFS management and the City of Ottawa for supplying the resources in developing the Operational Guide.

We would also like to thank UL, NIST, ISFSI, and OFS personnel past and present for their work in developing former documents such as the Ottawa Fire High Rise Procedures, Urban Tactics, and the Strategy & Tactics Manual.

Any fire Personnel, Service or Department is more than welcome to adopt and adapt the OG to suit their requirements.

Concerns and comments can be addressed to:

More Ottawa Operations Guides (PDF)

First-Arriving Company Officer Actions

Residential Occupancies

High-Rise and High-Risk Occupancies

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