The F.I.R.E.S. method will assist you in capturing the incident
By Robert Howarth
Your engine arrives at what appears to be a single-family dwelling with smoke and fire evident from the second-floor window on side A. You and your crew advance a hoseline and the arriving truck company conducts a search of the building. As more units arrive, additional duties are assigned, and within 15 minutes the fire is declared under control. During overhaul, it is determined that this seemingly mundane single-family dwelling has been divided into four separate apartments. Once final extinguishment is completed, units take up and return to their quarters to ready tools and equipment for the next one. As the officer of the first unit, you must complete the report and write a narrative memorializing the actions of the company.
Fast forward six months, and you receive a call from the law office of your jurisdiction advising you that there has been a lawsuit filed regarding the illegal modification of the building and complaints from residents about the damage done to their living area and possessions. The law office has your report and sets up a meeting to discuss what happened during the incident. Does your report accurately reflect what happened during the incident, and is there sufficient detail in the report to allow you to recall the details of that day? For many, the answer would be no.
Report writing is one of the dreaded duties that all firefighters and officers must deal with on a daily basis. As much as we dislike the duty, we must make sure to write factual, defensible, and accurate reports that clearly describe our actions and provide sufficient detail to stimulate our memory months or even years later. The F.I.R.E.S. method of writing will assist you in capturing the incident in a narrative form that meets all of these requirements.