Fire Ground Effectiveness Sub-Model
The delivery of fire ground suppression activities is one component of the Comprehensive Model. This component, in itself, is influenced by a variety of factors. An understanding of these factors is essential to any research program focused on assessing the prompt, efficient, effective and safe delivery of these services. It is recognized that the overall goal of the fire service is to provide a level of service that is capable of minimizing loss of life, injury and damage to property and the environment from fire.
The following items have been identified as having an impact on fire suppression activities. The eleven factors will not have the same weight and will therefore contribute differently to the fire ground effectiveness of a department. Each of the factors are closely inter-related.
1. Fire Risk/Fire Demand
The circumstances a fire department may encounter at the scene of a fire will affect the level of risk faced by fire fighters and the demand for fire department services. For example, older buildings pose a different set of problems than new buildings built to current construction codes. Building stock, built-in fire suppression measures, building occupancy, life safety and exposure, place varying degrees of demand and risk on suppression resources.
2. Response Time
The OFM definition of response time will, for the purposes of this study, be expanded to include preburn time, dispatch time, preparation time and travel time. Hence, it is the time from fire ignition to the point at which a first pumper (or other emergency apparatus with similar capabilities) and the initial fire attack team arrives/assembles on the fire ground.
3. Fire Ground Staffing
Fire ground staffing refers to the number and assembly of fire fighters at the scene of an emergency. It is comprised of:
- the initial fire attack team arriving at the scene and initiating fire ground operations
- additional staff arriving at the scene after the initial fire attack team
- the timing and sequencing of arrival of each group of fire fighters
- the relief of fire fighters at prolonged emergencies
The OFM study addresses the particular risk associated with a typical single family, two storey, detached dwelling. However, the total fire ground staffing for a municipality must reflect the individual community's circumstances and the types, age, size and distribution of risk. Therefore the needs may vary from the base numbers contained in this paper.
4. Fire Fighter Performance
Fire fighter efficiency measured on an individual basis is influenced by training, physical fitness and the tools/gear used. Measured on a group basis, team performance can be affected by the cohesiveness and level of coordination found at the scene of a fire.
Preliminary research has confirmed that appropriate training is a very important factor in the performance of individual fire fighters, of each individual crew, and in the cohesiveness and coordination of the entire team. Moreover, an appropriate level of physical fitness for each fire fighter can enhance fire ground performance and assist in minimizing injuries.
5. Fire Ground Command and Control
The ability to communicate information and direct fire ground command operations is crucial to the successful outcome of a fire ground operation.
6. Operational Guidelines
Procedures followed by fire fighters in responding to a specific situation provide the framework for an orderly and efficient delivery of suppression services.
7. Fire Fighter Safety
All fire ground operations must be conducted in such a manner that will not jeopardize fire fighter safety while, at the same time, making optimum use of available resources.
8. Apparatus and Equipment
Fire fighting apparatus and equipment have varying capabilities and must correspond to the demands of the Fire Ground Sub-Model. Innovations in equipment and technology can have an impact on staffing requirements and overall fire department effectiveness.
9. Water Supply
The availability of a reliable water supply, as well as the ease with which the supply can be secured, directly influences the effective and efficient delivery of fire suppression activities.
10. Availability of Fire Suppression Staffing
The number of staff assembled on the fire ground, and the time required to assemble the complete team, will be affected by the availability of personnel. Staff availability will be affected by a number of factors, including:
- composition of the fire department;
- the number of fire fighters on duty at the time of the emergency;
- the response of on-duty staff to other concurrent emergencies (eg. another fire, auto-extrication incident);
- fire fighter working arrangements; and
- personal and employment responsibilities of volunteers.
11. Fire Prevention and Public Fire Safety Education
The level of building fire protection, the strength of fire prevention activities, and the public's knowledge and attitude toward fire safety, can significantly reduce the frequency and/or severity of fires. As well, public fire safety education may ensure an early notification for occupants, their preplanned action, which, in turn, may reduce the requirement for rescue operations.
A separate research program has been initiated to evaluate the impact of fire prevention and public fire safety education. The potential roles that all members of the fire department may play in this important function is to be examined.