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Posted By Near Miss Team/ Thursday, February 28, 2019 / Print


Arriving first-due on the scene places you in the driver’s seat for the incident. However, what happens to the incident when no one is driving?


The first-due engine arrived on the scene of a working fire in a single-family dwelling and announced an offensive fast attack, then passed command. The second-due apparatus did not declare command (as they should have per SOP), resulting in a lack of direction for this entire event.

Ultimately, five companies were working on the fire scene. There were opposing hose lines and a crew on the roof that was not necessary, and RIT decided, for no reason, to breach a wall. Thankfully, no injuries were reported.

View the report: Incident Command Never Established During Fire Attack


With any event, the success of the team depends on leadership. The reporter from this event indicated that this department’s policy is to follow procedure and establish command. If the first-due passes, the second-due must assume the role.


  1. Discuss your department’s policy for establishing command.
  2. Do you have the leeway to pass command for any reason? Describe the situations you would feel it necessary.
  3. This department has predetermined assignments for on scene. Does your department use predetermined assignments? Discuss the benefits and shortfalls with predetermined assignments.
  4. How do you think this system would work? Discuss the pros and cons of this type of system.


Policy or practice aside, the first-arriving company is technically responsible for decisions on the fireground for their crew until another company arrives. If your policy determines this as a possible scenario, consider prompting the second-due as the company to assume command before beginning the fast attack.

Identifying the key points of this event included several safety concerns. Opposing hand lines and a freelancing RIT crew were outcomes of this event. Human performance improvement (HPI), like human-error analysis, is indicated from the eventual outcome, but HPI also investigates the behavior leading to the result. In this case, the decision point to pass command and the decision point to neglect assuming command were the major human-performance elements that could have led to the unsafe conditions.

The Firefighter Near Miss Reporting System, in partnership with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, is having a one-day seminar on how the concepts of HPI has taken such industries as aviation, nuclear, and gas and electric to being considered as high-reliability organizations. Learn more about this seminar in the Human Performance Benchmarking Conference Agenda (PDF).

Attendance spots are limited for this seminar; if you are interested in attending, sign up now!

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