Incident Command Conference – Day One

This week, the National Operational Guidance Programme (NOGP), issued the latest guidance document for the UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) on Incident Command. To coincide with the publication, CFOA is hosting an Incident Command conference with 100 representatives from 37 FRSs in attendance.

Conference Chair, Simon Pilling, CFOA Operational Effectiveness Lead and Chief Fire Officer of West Yorkshire FRS, set the scene for the day and thanked all those involved in the production of the guidance, with particular reference to today’s speakers, the CFOA National Operations Committee and the NOGP team.

John Baines, Tyne and Wear FRS, led the afternoon’s presentations providing an overview of the review and the guidance that followed. This review sought to focus on an ‘all hazards’ approach to command, an approach which is a unique preserve of the UK FRS, and to promoting assertive, effective and safe incident command. John outlined the key issues in this guidance which differ from the models and thinking applied in previous editions and discussed what this means practically for FRSs.

Sabrina Cohen-Hatton, London Fire Brigade, then presented her research to the conference. The research, which informed the production of the guidance, is the first of its kind in the UK on the psychology of command and was developed after analysing the decision making processes of Incident Commanders in six FRSs.

Andy Bowers, Hampshire FRS, discussed the concept of ‘Operational Discretion’ and how this way of thinking enables Incident Commanders to make decisions which keep firefighters and the public safe, during incidents which require a more flexible approach.

Finally, Dr Michael Humann provided an overview of the work of the research team of the Centre for Critical and Major Incident Psychology at the University of Liverpool, with particular reference to the Joint Endeavour exercise. The exercise, held last September in Merseyside, gave the team an opportunity to research the decision making process in a multi-agency environment.

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