Effective communication is crucial when it comes to fireground operations. The way information is conveyed can have a significant impact on the safety and well-being of all the individuals involved.
When faced with supporting evacuations in challenging environments it is imperative to approach them with a strategic mindset to ensure that your methods are both efficient and effective.
To gain insights into this subject, we spoke with Rob Horton, Station Manager Learning & Development at Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service.
The primary challenge is the distance between the incident commander and the responding personnel. As firefighters ascend or descend through a building, the effectiveness of their radio communication system can be compromised. The construction materials used in tall buildings, such as concrete and metal, can impede radio signals, this can result in delays in relaying critical information, such as changes in fire conditions, evacuation orders, or requests for additional resources.
When it comes to making safe decisions and developing strategies, there are several factors that need to be taken into account, such as preplanning, building construction, and collapse indicators. The goal is to prioritise safety and minimise risk by having a thorough understanding of the situation before it even occurs.
One recommendation is the use of portable repeaters to improve communication between the incident commander and other responding personnel. The repeaters provide us with an extra level of resiliency, ensuring that firefighters can stay connected even in challenging situations.
Setting up a wide area communication network with radio communications equipment requires careful planning and adherence to best practices – scoping out identified risks and creating suitable locations for the repeaters. This means our firefighters don’t have to scramble to establish communication when faced with difficult situations, enhancing the accuracy of information exchanged, and reducing the chances of confusion or misunderstandings.
A needs assessment will identify considerations such as: potential barriers to signal propagation i.e. terrain, building structures, or assigning designated channels for different purposes (tactical operations, command, and logistics) to streamline communication and prevent congestion on the radio channels.
Regular training and drills should also be conducted to familiarise personnel with the communication plan to ensure smooth coordination during challenging situations. Whilst, building partnerships and fostering collaboration with neighbouring fire and rescue services, as well as other relevant agencies is essential. Mutual aid agreements and joint training exercises help in sharing resources, expertise, and knowledge to handle incidents in challenging environments.
The circumstances we find ourselves in are ever evolving, and fire and rescue services must regularly review and update their protocols to adapt to our changing environments, this all helps to ensure we are supporting our fire fighters and maintaining public confidence.
You can learn more about Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service safety plans for 2020 to 2024 here, and how they have worked hard to transform their service and the way they operate to ensure they continue to deliver a first-class emergency response to fires and other emergencies.
We are here to help you connect your fire services from the fireground, to the ICU and service headquarters with critical communication devices and systems. We can support you from the initial contact to create a scope that will meet your fire services needs in order to protect your employees and wider community. Learn more here >
Let’s start a conversation – Call 033 3939 0022 | Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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