Operational procedures are a set of organizational directives that establish a standard course of action on the fireground, increasing the effectiveness of the firefighting team. It is difficult for any fire department to operate consistently and effectively without standard operating procedures. This is especially true during large scale, complex or unusual operations. Operational procedures allow the Manchester Fire Department to develop the "game plan" before the fire, one of the most important elements of pre-fire planning. Successful fireground command and firefighting activities require the integrated efforts of the entire team. This team must be organized and mobilized under a strong central plan.
Fire departments must develop procedures that apply to particular problems. Local conditions, capabilities and limitations will define specific responses. The goal should be to simplify and standardize operations.Standard Operating Procedures become a collection of values and experiences that evolve into a fireground playbook and which represent the official policy of the organization. This system eliminates the guesswork as to what will happen next on the fireground. It defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone on the fireground, creating an official structure where leaders lead and followers follow.
A very real management problem is trying to get everyone to do standard operations the same way. Each crew, company, shift and station tend to develop very individual and unique ways of doing the same thing. This fragmentation can create a number of small departments operating within the same organization. It becomes impossible to achieve department wide improvement or consistency. Operating under standard procedures give departments a fighting chance to eliminate this fragmentation.
The Manchester Fire Department must make a commitment to use standard operating procedures on all field activity all the time. Applying the guidelines to everyday, routine business develops a set of regular habits for everyone. If a variety of decisions have been made before the fire that structures how the organization will react, the Fireground Commander can concentrate on critical rather than routine decisions.