Preventing Fireground Failures: Expectations & Mental Distractions

Firefighting Best Practices > Being Mentally Prepared

In this series of posts, we’ve covered some of the major hurdles that firefighters face on a regular basis that can hinder their performance. In such a demanding and rigorous field, being prepared and ready is the first step to preventing fireground failures. In this installment, we’re going to cover how these firefighters can set and meet expectations and how to overcome mental distractions that can land them in harm’s way. In addition to sharing this information with your clients, ensure your client’s operation is protected with a Firefighter Liability Insurance package.

Setting expectations.

Firefighters won’t understand how they’re fairing if there are no clear standards to live up to. Set clear and listed expectations in the station in a conspicuous area. Include the following:

  • Readiness expectations and time limits for being out the door
  • Proper safety equipment usage
  • Personal protective gear
  • Duties as a firefighter to achieve the job safely and efficiently

Overcoming mental distractions.

It goes without saying in many fire departments that firefighters should just “suck it up.” However, failing to address mental distractions and stress can be devastating to the firefighter and the department. From home life and personal distractions to illness resulting in attempted suicides, firefighters face immense stress on the job.

According to Fire Rescue 1, Jeff Dill’s Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance showed 112 reported cases of firefighter suicides in 2015. And who knows how many went unreported. For comparison’s sake, the U.S. Fire Administration reported 87 on-duty firefighter deaths last year.

Addressing potential red flags and concerns should be taken seriously at any fire department. If someone is becoming a recluse, seems mentally unavailable, or is having problems at home, it’s best for the department to consult with him or her to ensure the issue is acknowledged and, if necessary, treated.

One of the most beneficial ways to overcome distractions is to go into a call with the right mindset. Having a proper mindset requires a positive attitude, a realization that what you are doing is your job, and a strong self-discipline to always be ready. All firefighters must be aware of their potential for complacency and instead go into each fire understanding that it could be the worst fire of their career, explains Firehouse.

For example, if the firefighters receive a standard smoke alarm call and go in with the mindset that it will be nothing, they are setting themselves up for failure. Prioritizing the focus of the job at hand and the potential for having to put out a serious fire can save lives.

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