Hazard Ineffective organisation of the incident ground
Knowledge and understanding
|Ineffective organisation of the incident ground||
Understand all associated hazard knowledge
It is the responsibility of fire and rescue services to ensure that incident commanders are sufficiently trained, capable and knowledgeable to be able to effectively and safely organise resources to obtain the best resolution to an incident. It is the role of all personnel, who may attend or are involved with an incident, to ensure that they are familiar with the requirements of the incident command system and that they can operate safely and effectively in it. This applies to those who will perform a command role and equally to those who will be operating under the command of others, including the fire control room.
Incident command and support activities start on receipt of the emergency call to the fire control room and continue to the conclusion of the incident. See National Operational Guidance: Operations
Operations on the incident ground should be well-organised and controlled. The incident command system provides the incident commander with a clear framework to help structure, organise and manage an emergency. It can be adapted to all sizes and types of incident and helps incident commanders to deploy and use resources effectively.
The incident commander at an incident is the nominated competent and responsible person. However, the most senior officer present holds organisational accountability, even when they have not taken the role of incident commander. This cannot be passed to another person. This arrangement allows a senior officer to take a variety of other roles, including providing tactical advice, mentoring and monitoring.
The fire and rescue service incident command system is an all-hazards approach, providing a progressive, scalable and flexible system of operational command, control and organisation. The incident command system is designed to help an incident commander manage and fulfil their incident plan. It encourages a controlled and systematic approach to resolving incidents.
The key components of the incident command system include:
- Clear, defined and visible lines of command
- Manageable spans of control
- A communications infrastructure
- Appropriate responsibility and authority
- Clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities
- Sectorisation of the incident
Using common language and components will ensure fire and rescue services can effectively resolve local, cross-border and national incidents.
Understanding the span of control concept is important when managing a large amount of activity and information. Dividing an incident into sectors provides a clear reporting structure.
The incident command system will only be successful when applied with good command skills. It is not the incident command system that achieves the outcome; it is how the incident commander makes and applies sound operational decisions within it.
The incident command system allows the incident commander to use health and safety arrangements, including operational guidance and/or procedures tailored to the characteristics of an incident and the objectives of the incident plan. This helps to achieve a balance between risk and benefit.
At a more challenging incident it may be appropriate for a senior officer to assume command. However, it may be more important to maintain continuity of command, rather than automatically hand over on the arrival of a more senior officer.
Incident commanders should be aware of becoming overburdened and having too broad a span of control. This can lead to ineffective leadership, poor decision-making and poor communications, leading to a failure of situational awareness. Incident commanders should consider the issues of team dynamics to get the best from the resources available to them. See Situational awareness.
Incident commanders and the command team are accountable for the decisions they make. They should be able to provide reasoned justification for what they did and why. Appropriate records should be kept at incidents to log key events, critical decisions and the thinking behind the actions incident commanders take, including contemporaneous records for low level incidents, escalating to the addition of decision logs being recorded as the scale of operations become more complex.
The declaration of a major incident may instigate the requirement for additional resources from multiple agencies and hence additional strategic management which would be established both on-scene and at remote locations.
For further information, see National Operational Guidance: Major incidents