Skip to main content

Control measure
Incident commander communication

Control measure knowledge

Effective communication is fundamental to achieving successful and safe resolution of incidents. It provides the incident commander with knowledge about the situation and progress of tasks. Obtaining accurate and timely information is crucial to underpin situational awareness and subsequent decision-making. It helps the incident commander perform the role in a confident and determined manner and thereby assert their leadership and authority.

Communication also plays a vital role in co-ordinating activities, completing tasks and handover of command. Sharing accurate and timely information is also critical for helping others to have a common understanding of the situation, what is happening and what needs to happen next. Even the most effective plans will only work if the people putting them into practice understand them.

As well as exchanging information, good communication helps to build relationships between people. These relationships are important so that people are effective when they carry out their tasks to resolve the incident. Incident commanders should be aware that effective communication is essential for good leadership and makes it easier for people to follow instructions, understand briefings and have confidence in what is being stated.

Effective communication should:

  • Provide information that is:
    • Clear
    • Relevant and concise
    • Timely
  • Be easily understood
  • Be delivered confidently
  • Include active listening
  • Ensure verbal and non-verbal communications are aligned
  • Ensure assumptions are questioned

Strategic actions

Fire and rescue services should:
  • Ensure that they have appropriate communications systems in place at incidents and adequately prepare personnel for communicating with others effectively in an operational environment
  • Ensure there is resilience in all their communication strategies and aligned equipment used on the incident ground
  • Ensure appropriate control measures are in place to support reinstating operational communication across all aspects of operational incident command in the event of equipment and strategy failure
  • Develop robust systems that ensure that the handover of command is structured and does not compromise the safe management of the incident

Tactical actions

Incident commanders should:
  • Communicate objectives, priorities and tactics to be adopted in resolving the incident

  • Ensure that the location of crews is accurately reported and recorded

  • Deliver clear, concise and timely briefings to crews, command support functions and other agencies

  • Communicate the incident situation to other responders via fire control using the M\ETHANE message protocol

  • Debrief crews that have withdrawn from a working area during an incident to gain operational intelligence

  • Provide a structured brief when handing over and taking over command

  • Maintain an accurate record of information received from the incident ground
  • Communicate the contents of any M\ETHANE message transmitted to all responders

  • Regularly pass information to fire control regarding incident progress