What Does He Need To Know?
The process of cognitive decision making is complex and quite rapid. According to research by Dr. Gary Klein, fireground commanders will make 80% of their decisions in less than one minute . These decisions happen as often as the working jobs come in. What impacts the chief officer greatly is communication. Experience plays a large role for him; knowing the area, knowing the assignment and any CISD information. In some departments the initial chief officer may know the personnel directly, by name, but the intial reports by the unit officers are what fill in the blanks as he is responding. Some chiefs know to expect the first line to be near the seat of the fire; the trucks opening up and searching. Some are looking to see who will be the RIC or where the second tanker is coming from. Other chiefs want to know if the Charlie Group Leader has the right vest on, or if you went in before the “two-out” arrived. Either way, it all comes down to communication and the expectations we have of one another.
1. “Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions” Klein, 1998
“Fireground Chatter vs. Clear Communication – Part 1” Bailey, Fire Rescue 1, 2008
“Dunn’s Dispatch: Life and Death Decision Making” Dunn, Firehouse.com 2007
“Fireground Command Decisions” Bouwsema, Fire Engineering.com 2007
“Findings From the Wildland Firefighters Human Factors Workshop. Improving Wildland Firefighter Performance Under Stressful, Risky Conditions: Toward better Decisions on the Fireline and More Resilient Organizations” USDA Forest Service, 1996
Photograph courtesy of Patrick Davis