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Command skills

Command skills are the cognitive and interpersonal qualities critical for assertive, effective and safe incident command. To apply them, incident commanders should be able to understand the situation as it unfolds.

They should be able to:

  • Identify and prioritise problems and develop a plan to resolve the incident
  • Communicate this plan to others
  • Co-ordinate and control activity in line with their plan
  • Display the leadership needed to resolve the incident and operate effectively under the pressures of an incident

As well as having technical knowledge, an incident commander should possess command skills to underpin their judgements, decisions and behaviours. This section draws on research and incident ground observations that have helped identify the command skills necessary for incident commanders.

There are four levels of command, which are underpinned by command qualifications that apply to the fire and rescue service. The CFOA Command Training, Assessment and Qualifications Fire and Rescue Service Guidance provides further information.

Command skills are complex in nature and can be developed with understanding and practice. It is essential that fire and rescue services prepare and develop incident commanders to use these skills effectively when commanding an incident. This includes providing appropriate opportunity for practice under realistic pressures.

As part of the incident or training debrief process, the incident commander should seek feedback on their performance in resolving the incident. This allows them to identify best practice and where they can make improvements in the future.