Frequently asked Questions
Why do we need to use ISO-Notes?
It is clear that regarding safety during incidents that if you didn’t document the incident then you didn’t evaluate or provide safety for the incident. If each incident is evaluated then there should be the same items evaluated at each incident and ISO-Notes provides the means to do just that.
Most of our incidents go well so why should we document and report on these incidents?
Documentation is not done just when things don’t go as planned, it is done to document the activities of your department. There is as much to gain from the good report as there is from the one where things didn’t go as well as you would hope.
We already write down what happens when things don’t go as planned so why do we need ISO-Notes-Notes?
It is good news that you already document your incidents. But does everyone who can act as the Safety Officer do it exactly the same way? Does every potential Safety Officer follow all the rules for every type of incident and every mandate of the Fire Chief? If you are using ISO-Notes then “Yes” is the answer to these questions. Does the Fire Chief read every report on every incident so they can keep abreast of how their organization is functioning? Is there a review process in place for every type of incident and a mechanism to change your procedures when needed? The ISO-Notes program is the backbone for a comprehensive safety program. It is not just a form to fill out, but it is a complete safety officer system.
We don’t have a dedicated Safety officer so the Battalion Chief selects an officer to act as the Incident Safety Officer at each incident. How can we use ISO-Notes?
When you have a number of members who act as the Safety Officer, you have a greater need to normalize their operations. This type of situation shows the real need for ISO-Notes. When you are using ISO-Notes, then the person acting as the Safety Officer uses the field worksheets to evaluate each type of incident. This keeps them all in line and allows them to check the boxes as they review the scene. The program data can reside on a server so that a copy of the program is loaded on each station computer and the database is loaded on the server. This allows the acting Safety Officer to simply fill out the After-Action-Report in their own station and this is available to anyone with access to the program. This means that the Incident Commander selects an officer to be the Safety Officer. They do that job and when the incident is over they fill in the form on the computer in their station. The Incident Commander can then review or print it in their station and the Fire Chief can review or print the previous nights incidents from his computer the next morning.
Who sets up the standards used in the program for evaluating the incidents?
This is up to the Fire Chief to determine who will set the evaluation criteria. In most instances the group in charge of that incident type initially does this. So for a Hazardous Materials incident, the Haz-Mat team would provide the initial set of criteria and for a Rope Rescue the Rescue Team would set the criteria. After this is done, it is best if the Operations Chief and the Safety Officer review and modify the criteria. Depending upon the size of the department, this may be the final set of standards or the Fire Chief may wish to review or modify them further. This process is only one way to accomplish this standards setting. In a good organization this process should be reviewed by labor and management on a regular basis (like yearly) and updated to better reflect the needs of the department.
How much time does it take to fill out the After-Action-Report?
The basic report consists of three pages: Page 1 is a list of who, what, where and when. Page 2 is the incident narrative and depending upon the length of the narrative the questions start on Page 2 or on Page 3. The normal After-Action-Report, one where there is no firefighter injury or major problems, takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. You must remember that you already have filled this report out in the field so this is only copying the data and writing the narrative. It can be done quicker but most people spend a little more time making sure that their narrative reads and sounds good as this report is to be retained for years and could end up in court.
How long does it take to be trained to use the program?
Any officer can sit down the first time and fill this report out. The form will not take bad data as it only allows you to select from the pre-installed data lists. You have entered data like the Unit numbers (Engine 2, Truck 12, Battalion 5), your personnel (#7780 BC Johnny Johnson), your incident Types (Fire in building, Haz-Mat Spill, Rope rescue) so that all you do is select the correct entry from the drop-down list.
What is done with the reports after they are completed?
The decision on what to do with the data is the purview of the Fire Chief. We suggest that the Safety Officer only reports what they observe and do no follow-up. This is to the keep them from becoming embattled in any discipline that may occur. We have seen systems where the Safety Officer creates the report, then if there were problems the person who was the Incident Commander must resolve those problems and forward their actions or recommendations up the chain of command to the Fire Chief.
Do you have to create a report for every incident dispatched to?
That is completely up to the Fire Chief. We suggest that you do not make out a report for every dispatched incident but that you do a report at every incident where you actually do something. Additionally, you need to create a report where there are any firefighter injuries even if you were not originally dispatched to that incident. This is done in order to actually capture all of the necessary data to run a good safety program.
Many of our injuries are caused at medical incidents where the Safety Officer is not included in the units sent. How do you capture these incidents in your data?
This must be done in order to acquire complete injury data for the department. One very simple path to this is the requirement that the company officer or officer in charge of any unit where a member is injured for any reason must contact the dispatcher and they will contact the Safety Officer. This allows the Safety Officer to make the decision on how to gather the needed data.