The Importance of Logistics in Firefighting

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Fires are a matter of life and death. A logistics plan is designed to help anticipate, avoid and mitigate potential complications. Having a logistics plan in firefighting helps keep team members safe and helps operations run smoothly and effectively. 

Your logistics plan should include pre-incident planning, assessments on arrival and incident action plans, all of which are critical for safety and compliance when you are on the scene. Of course, the correct gear and equipment, proper equipment testing and system repairs are also vital parts of firefighting logistics. 

Have a Thorough Pre-Incident Plan

The first step to developing a logistics strategy is to implement a pre-incident plan. This is essential to ensuring your department is well-prepared and that operations run smoothly and safely when you are called to the ground. Time is always of the essence when fighting fires, and having a pre-incident plan is critical for arriving at the grounds and springing into action. It also minimizes risks to firefighters, occupants, properties and assets.  

Local companies may invite your department to their facilities as part of their safety initiatives. If they do, take it as an excellent opportunity for training and having a detailed pre-incident plan. It is good practice to re-evaluate each company's pre-incident plan annually for any changes in the building or company and for new additions to your squad.

Pre-incident planning gathers information that helps firefighters make the safest decisions and choose the best strategies quickly and effectively. Your plan will have different components depending on whether the fire is in a residential or industrial area. 

Aspects to include in pre-incident planning for residential areas include:

  • Address and directions
  • Structural elements of a building (including the number of exits and location, location of windows and similar access points, locations of elevators, escalators and stairs
  • An evacuation strategy for any occupants with disabilities 
  • The house or building's physical condition

Additional aspects to include in pre-incident planning for warehouses and industrial buildings:

  • Separation of buildings
  • Information on the fire alarm system
  • If any access codes or cards are required to enter the premises
  • The number of stories and the building's dimensions
  • Locations of hydrants and their distance to the building
  • If flammable, combustible, explosive, radioactive, reactive or toxic materials are on-site
  • If there is access to the roof and the roof type
  • The average number of expected occupants during the day and night
  • Emergency contact details

The list is by no means comprehensive, but it is a good starting point to reference. 

Assess the Situation Upon Arrival

Pre-incident plans are helpful, but each situation is unique and has specific challenges. Another key element in a logistics strategy is to assess risks and get a full scope of the emergency upon arrival every time you face an incident.

Assessments have different essential elements, but the most vital questions to ask yourself upon arrival are “What do I need to do?” and “What (equipment) do I have or need to do it?”.

Make an Initial/Early Assessment 

A few quick but practical questions you can ask as you arrive on the grounds include:

  • What is the stage of the fire? 
  • Is the building's structural integrity affected?
  • How is the fire spreading?
  • Is it possible to perform a 360-degree walkaround before choosing a strategy?
  • What strategy will work best in this situation?

Factors affecting logistics strategy and special considerations include:

  • Civil unrest or rioting and unrest at the site of the fire
  • Adverse weather conditions like strong winds or lightning
  • Reduced visibility during the night or during inclement weather conditions

Create an Incident Action Plan

The incident commander (IC) will develop an incident action plan, which they must share with personnel clearly and effectively. Top-tier communication is essential to running operations safely and practically.  

1. Start with Risk Assessment

The IC will run a risk assessment that can determine the firefighting logistics strategy you will use. Here are a few core aspects of risk assessments:  

  • All personnel should make every effort to reduce or eliminate risks accordingly.  
  • IC will determine risks to personnel, hazards and the odds of something going wrong. 
  • The IC will weigh the benefits of one potential strategy over another.
  • The IC will consider the expected crew size and equipment arrival times. 

Conduct Risk Assessments Throughout Operations

Fires present an ever-changing situation, and you and your team should conduct risk assessments throughout the operation at key points:

  • Before any action is taken on the incident scene
  • If any element of the strategy is reached or changed
  • If a significant event unfolds during the incident
  • If the incident commander should change

Incident Goals 

The IC will also outline the Incident Goals by asking questions along these lines: 

  • Are there occupants who need rescue?
  • How can you stabilize the situation and make it better?
  • How can any further property loss be prevented? 

Mode of Operation 

The IC's risk assessment will help determine if you proceed with an offensive or defensive operation. 

  • Offensive: An offensive operation aims to locate, confine and put our fires as quickly as possible. Offensive operations also follow the two-in-two-out policy. Offensive strategies save more lives and property but often pose a higher risk to firefighters. 
  • Defensive: Firefighters do not enter the property during defensive operations but do their best to contain or extinguish the fire outside the property using specialized tools and techniques. 

Several factors could lead to choosing a defensive strategy: 

  • Backup is needed, and the defensive operation will transition to offensive once more help arrives (a transitional attack). 
  • The fire is too large or poses too much risk to fight offensively. 
  • The building is unstable and unsafe. 
  • Victims and/or property are unsavable. 

Accomplishing Incident Objectives

Set strategies that match your tactical objectives according to risk management and incident goals to meet incident objectives. The goal of most operations is to preserve lives and properties, but always remember that no structure is worth a firefighter's life.

Effective Logistics With Bunker Gear Specialists 

The importance of logistics in firefighting cannot be overlooked. Your department should rely on clear plans for operations, but you also require the best gear, equipment and services for your department to run smoothly. 

Bunker Gear Specialist (BGS) has been a family-owned and operated company since 1998. We ensure you have the proper firefighter safety and performance tools for an effective logistics plan for your department.

We also offer quality services, including cleaning and testing, bunker gear and personal protective equipment (PPE) rentals and maintenance and repair. Browse our collections of bunker gear equipment, or contact us to speak to a representative today.


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