How Do You Operate?

How are you assigned? Or are you?

This is more of a poll question that I would really like a lot of input on.

How are you assigned?

Do you run separate engine, truck and rescue companies?

Do you run with predetermined assignments based on your arrival order?

Are your people assigned tasks by seating?

Or, do you arrive and wait for an assignment from the IC?

These questions came up in a recent conversation with several people on multiple occasions.  I am really interested to know how the rest of the country is doing “it” and what trends are being followed.

This is especially interesting with the unfortunate budget cuts and reductions in staffing in some jurisdictions.

Let us know what is going on out there, we really look forward to your feedback.


  • Robby O says:

    We actually do just about all of those things.
    First you are assigned to a station, and the Station Captain assigns you a unit (if there are multiple units in the house).

    Some stations break down the task level to riding assignments, some don’t. We do it at may station for the Engine and Truck Company.

    We also have “Tactical Templates” that lay out the unit assignments for structural responses. Any other responses (hazmat, accidents, etc.) are left up to the first due officer.

  • Brian J says:

    We’re 100% voulnteer with about 120 members. Each member is assigned to a unit. We have 6 stations in town, one of them is our ambulance station. There are 6 engines, 2 towers, and 2 rescues. The dispatching is divdided into different regions. All structure fires are dispatched with 3 engines, a tower, a rescue, and an ambulance. Fire alarms are 2 engines, and a tower. Car accidents are 2 engines, a rescue, and an ambulance. CO calls with no symtoms are 2 engines; CO calls with symptoms are 2 engines and an ambulance.

    The offficer on scene has the ok to add or cancel apparatus as needed

  • Tony Castle says:

    I work in Detroit.On our box alarms we get 3 engines, 1 truck, 1 squad, and a chief. First engine company in on a working fire will stretch (engine will drop line in front of building then go to hydrant). Crew of first engine will be on first line (we do your side my side. When the engine pulls up and you get out of the rig and the fire is on your side of the street then your on the pipe.). Second engine company or truck company will gain access to building if needed (most of our fires are in vacant open buildings). Second company will take second line if needed. Thrid engine company is used as support where needed. Members of all units once inside will pull line, pull ceiling, check for hot spots ect. Truck company has truck operation such as S/R, ventaltion, pulling power. Truck company does fire reports. Truck boss has final say on picking up from inside of building (reports to chief). Squad also used as support S/R manpower inside building. Chief has overall comand on scene. Can request more units if needed. EMS NOT dispatched unless reports of people trapped or requested by chief.

  • dc802 says:

    Thanks for the responses. Tony, what I gather is that you run like most metro departments in that engines do engine work and so on. Robby, are your assignments predetermined in the sense that if you are the third apparatus in, is your assignment based what truck you are on the scene? Same question for Brian J.?

    I am trying to figure out how units know what they are doing and based on what criteria? The larger cities run engines and trucks and that is what they do for the most part. Rural and suburban departments operate different and I am interested in the different methods used and if there are any problems with them.

    Thanks again, and Robby, nice job last night.

  • Milan Sosic says:

    haha….wow well here in south africa we are not as lucky, we have a mixture of the british and american systems, basically since we are severly short staffed, we will pull out to a fire, on arrival a firefighter will pick up a hydrant, run back and grab hoses and meet the other firefighter who is doing forcible entry, they attack the fire together, doing search and rescue as they progress, its very difficult to actually run a efficient service with only 3 on the pump, so we have to be the engine, truck and squad all in one !

  • Marques Bush says:

    Residential s get 5 eng, Truck, Rescue, Two Bc’s. Commericals add in one more Truck. All our Assignments are predetermined. Seating assignments are there if we have four.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    You asked for it….

    We run 2 Stations with a shift strength that varies from 8 (days full staffing) to 6 (minimum across the board). Captain and 2 FF at HQ (or 3 or 4) and a Lieutenant and 2 FF at Station 2.

    We cross staff the ambulance with that crew and if the ambulance is out, coverage is brought back for HQ to maintain a minimum of 3 FF. Station 2 is only covered during 2 man transports, so otherwise it is a black hole.

    With me so far?

    Typical box assignment is 2 Engines and the truck with duty personnel. A recall of all off duty personnel. Plus a Auto Response Engine and Truck.

    Functions and assignments are typically figured out as needed by the Officer. There is no standard tool choice/assignment unless the individual groups take it upon themselves.

    SOP dictates what actions/functions need to be accomplished, but because the response may be so varied based on staffing, SOPs do not dictate who does it and when.

    It can lead to Officer overload, as not only does the initial IC have to figure out what needs to be done, but then assign those tasks on an almost individual basis.

    Some Officers predetermine tool assignments and functions, so that at least the intitial response is covered.

    First arriving Officer is IC until higher ranking Officer arrives, or unless conditions dictate the Officer committ to operations immediately.

    Our Chief and Deputy respond to most box alarms and will take the Command function.

  • Robby O says:

    Yes we have pre determined arrival assignments based on the type of unit you arrive on (Engine, Truck, Squad, or Ambulance) and the order.

    We have these for Residential, Commercial, Multifamily, and Highrise occupancies.

    It details the entire first alarm assignment and what they are responsible for.
    Here is the residential one

    First Engine: Secure water supply, Size up, Operational Mode, fire attack, initial command
    Second Engine: Finish water supply plan, IRIT, back up line after arrival of third engine
    Third Engine: Secondary hydrant, RIT
    First Special Service: Search and Rescue, Forcible Entry, Utilities, Overhaul, Salvage, Ladders
    Second Special Service: Support First Special service operations
    First Ambulance: Rehab/Medical Group
    1st Chief: Command
    EMS Supervisor: Safety Officer

  • Nate Q. says:

    In my dept., we’re assigned three to an apparatus (my company may have a fourth if not floating to cover leave).

    We run two engines and two quints. Standard 1st alarm gives 3 enignes/1 Ladder/1 Battalion, commercial gets an additional engine.

    Per SOP:
    1st-in engine: initial command, attack pumper, and wraps lines on hydrant on way in.

    1st-in quint: operates as truck co., S/R, vent., utilities.

    2nd-in engine/quint: secures water supply/relays to 1st-in engine, Ofc & FF man back-up handline.

    3rd-in engine/quint: Manpower as needed/RIT

    Battalion: Assumes command.

    Standard riding positions were recently implemented at my station by the officers (we’re at an outlying station and are having the fourth FF more often), but are not done on any other companies in the dept.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    What’s up with copying my response?

  • dc802 says:

    I got rid of it. SPAM that slipped through. Most of them get deleted, but sometimes they make their way through. Thanks for letting me know. There is no duplicating you, : )
    Stay low, Brother.

  • Dave LeBlanc says:

    Thanks Bro…..was very confused (which doesn’t take much) at first.

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