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Fireground Identification


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Most, if not all, of the operational members here, will be able to recall the times you have been on those bigger jobs and know how much easier it is when you are working with watches you know. This may be the stations many miles away that you have turned out with over a number of years and so know the individuals you are working with. Communications forms a bit part of these kind of jobs.

Its also fair to say, as officers, its much easier to task someone to do something when you know their name, instead of saying "Hi mate, can you run a couple of lengths over there" or "Hi mate can you get us PPV off", knowing the persons name makes it much easier. 

Likewise, if you ask someone to do something and perhaps have to follow it up or make changes later, communication is much easier when you know who you have previously tasked to do a job. People seem to be faceless at these types of incidents. 

We have recently undertaken a High Rise training session where 10+ pumps were involved. The crews were made up of stations around the service and had a good few new trainees along with old hands off other watches on overtime. This essentially gave us really mixed up crews, many who had never worked together. Taking aside not knowing the capabilities of each firefighter or indeed any weakness', the feedback we got was that the comms were much harder. We have had some suggestions put forward such as having velcro names on tunics for jobs like this. 

Has any other service adopted anything which identifies them on the fireground. Im not suggesting we all get "Bull" and "Axe" on the back of the tunics, bu the US do seem to have their names plastered all over regardless of the Police of Fire?

Feel free to discuss

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Surrey have each individuals brigade number on the back of the helmet. However I never came across anyone shouting a four digit number across the fire ground to get someones attention and to be honest I probably wouldn't notice if someone was shouting my own at me! Not all that bad an idea though.

But yes, a bigger job is just a cocophany of "mate?/!" and I usually have to run over and make eye contact with someone if I need to talk. 

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I don't think any Brigade has names on tunics that I can think of but more and more are going down route of number, initials or even surname on the back of the helmet now.  Personally I think helmet is best place as its clearer to see than on tunic when its dark.

I was involved in a number of exercises last year with 2 different Brigades and was similar things brought up there but it was an exercise with crews from all over county some of whom are highly unlikely paths are going to cross unless something massive was kicking off or spate incidents i.e. flooding.

Obviously exercises always highlight these issues but look at a real incident has it ever caused an issue?  

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The only service i know thats like that is Shropshire who have the station initials like SY for Shrewsbury and the owners initials on their lids

Mate or gaffer is the usual stickler. At my last station it was common to do training or attend incidents with stations that were more familiar i.e. being in the black country we’d rarely meet up with a crew from Solihull at an exercise

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Hampshire have their number as a minimum on the helmet but lots have their names on the back (which is optional).

We all have collar patches (or central patches on the new PPE) with our station number on it, the CM and WM having the same with rank below.

We have had so many fixed term contracts here though through the past few years, most people know most people as well as a good amount of our WT being RDS too. Even though we have 51 stations we always tend to know the people we end up with even at big jobs like Ocado.

We haven’t had the large intakes of new fire fighters that you have though so I’m sure that has an effect.

Interested to hear thoughts on solutions though.

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5 hours ago, Matt said:

Obviously exercises always highlight these issues but look at a real incident has it ever caused an issue? 

The exercise used 10 pumps and its not unusual to have make ups which well exceed this in GMFRS. We have over 550 high rise in Manchester and this is increasing yearly hence the reason its been brought up at this exercise. We already have our initials on the side of the helmet, but only small lettering. 

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With accountability being the buzzword after incidents or during inquiries and inquests (Grenfell, Manchester Arena, London Bridge), many emergency services officers now keep live logbooks of events. Cressidda Dick's (Now Met Pol Commish) log of events surrounding the accidental Stockwell shooting of a member of public certainly helped her avoid discipline and legal action when she was later scrutinised about this cock up (as she was in charge of this surveillance job).

Grenfell's Inquiry saw individual LFB FFs being expected to recall the smallest details and vilified if they couldn't  

So maybe some kind of identifying mark on helmets would be useful when recalling who was where and said what - especially in BA.

And then there's the more awful thought of identifying firefighters if it all goes wrong at a job. A formal arrangement has  got to be better than any ad hoc arrangement like at Grenfell........


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There was talk about putting our numbers on our helmet in Avon. It went to the Staff Engagement Network and people said it wouldn't make a difference. Also some said it could single out probationers as we all have 4 digit numbers and the rest have 3. 

I've got my name and number in Dyno tape on the back of mine only as there are three Tim's on our watch and two of us are Tim Jones! 

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Its a similar situation in West Mids, all probationers ( and transferees ) have 5 digit numbers. I found having triangles was a sure fire way to be given the dirtiest of jobs though

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I have actually always liked the USA way of names on rear of jackets (even nicknames) one you are under air and 2 or more BA Teams together, every one looks identical. So anything that Helps on the foreground I would welcome.

I wil see you soon Carly then, when I bring the CU to the new High Rise Exercise 👍😂

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As and already been mentioned earlier Shropshire have station initial and wearers initials on helmets, eg LU Ludlow JS John Smith... something that we’ve been trying to get brought in here eg 53 DJ or even service number.. unfortunately it’s not been adopted as of yet though.

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It’s not something I’m personally against, quite the opposite actually. It would be very beneficial to be able to more easily identify individuals on the fireground both outside and inside the job, primarily for safety reasons.

Unfortunately there are those (and I am not void of any cynicism in this respect) that will see it as another way to identify culprits. In the age of social media and mobile phones it’s reasonable for people to not want to be made even more easily identifiable. And then there is the over bearing, all-seeing culture the fire service has introduced themselves with performance review teams etc which makes the concept even less attractive for the cynical ones. 

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Imagine though if everyone was doing what they should be doing as per their MOS.

Some act as though they have simply completed the MOS by copying a cheat sheet from the 3rd drawer down 🤣

Its shows 😚

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Common place in Victoria, Australia, for us to all have our surnames (and a distinguishing initial if more than one person with the same surname at a station) on our turnout gear. Back of the helmet, tunic pocket and trouser pocket. 

Wildfire gear tends to be helmet only, although some brigades get patches for the tunic too.

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