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Chief Officer Training Curriculum. Operations Module 2: Incident Command Decision-Making. Objectives. Identify the difference between classical and naturalistic decision-making Determine whether to use the classical or naturalistic method at a particular incident

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chief officer training curriculum

Chief Officer Training Curriculum


Module 2:

Incident Command Decision-Making

  • Identify the difference between classical and naturalistic decision-making
  • Determine whether to use the classical or naturalistic method at a particular incident
  • Size up and identify at least three incident problems and the cues used to detect them
objectives continued
Objectives (continued)
  • Determine at least three incident objectives and three strategies to address the incident
  • Determine at least three tactics to carry out to complement each strategy

Focus is to:

  • Consider process of thought to empower officers to make quick decisions
  • Establish foundation for future decision-making throughout incident
overview continued
Overview (continued)
  • Explain and reinforce difference between classical and naturalistic decision-making
  • Present command sequence as outline for officers to follow when developing and implementing an action plan using the classical method
incident scene decision making
Incident Scene Decision-Making

Two primary methods:

  • Classical
  • Naturalistic
classical method
Classical Method


  • Gathers information
  • Analyzes information
  • Determines problems present
  • Determines and prioritizes solutions
  • Selects Tactics
  • Issues directives to implement tactics
classical method continued
Classical Method (continued)

Classical method used during:

  • Training for incident type not previously learned
  • Evaluation of other decision-makers to
    • Determine obvious and subtle differences
    • Provide optional conclusions
    • Provide cues for actions not to direct
classical method continued9
Classical Method (continued)

At incident scene, decision-maker:

  • Must not direct tactical actions until formulates basic plan
  • Must base plan on critical cues
  • Must apply best specific solutions (tactics)
naturalistic method
Naturalistic Method


  • Looks for critical cues
  • Relates those cues to previous similar situations
  • Recalls previous conclusions, results, and actions
  • Issues directives
naturalistic method continued
Naturalistic Method (continued)

Almost instant recall:

  • Interrelationships of specific information with conclusions, results, and actions
  • Direct link from senses to action
naturalistic method continued12
Naturalistic Method (continued)

The brain always attempts the naturalistic method first.

classical versus naturalistic
Classical Versus Naturalistic

Use classical method when:

  • No experience or too little training
  • Incident cues are very unfamiliar
  • Lost, overwhelmed, or in a panic
command sequence
Command Sequence

Incident priorities:

  • Life safety
  • Incident stabilization
  • Property conservation

These priorities are often accomplished simultaneously.

command sequence continued




Command Sequence (continued)

Step 1: Size-up

Identify the problem

command sequence continued17






Command Sequence (continued)

Step 2: Determine strategy and select tactics

command sequence continued18








Command Sequence (continued)

Action plan:

Who takes action when and where

command sequence continued19









Command Sequence (continued)

Step 3: Implement the action plan

Directives to resources—who, when, where

command sequence continued20










Command Sequence (continued)

Performing tactical operations:

Companies and crews perform tasks

action planning
Action Planning

What are the benefits of action planning?

size up

Thinking stage:

  • Phase One: pre-incident information
  • Phase Two: dispatch through on-scene size-up
  • Phase Three: ongoing size-up
pre incident information
Pre-Incident Information

Definition: critical cues known or gathered before incident that may affect decisions or actions

  • More than you see through the windshield
  • Wealth of information available
target hazards
Target Hazards

Is target hazard preplanning effective?

dispatch through on scene size up
Dispatch Through On-Scene Size-Up

IC identifies problems:

  • Calmly assesses incident conditions
  • If IC doesn’t identify problems, may apply wrong solutions
  • Identifies potential hazards to firefighters
dispatch through on scene size up continued
Dispatch Through On-Scene Size-Up (continued)

When relieving the initial IC, the command officer must:

  • View “big picture”
  • Re-evaluate resource needs
  • Evaluate strategy-tactics
  • Evaluate changes in incident conditions
dispatch through on scene size up continued27
Dispatch Through On-Scene Size-Up (continued)

Sizeup Factors






C onstruction

E xposure


Auxiliary Appliances

Special Hazards




dispatch through on scene size up continued28
Dispatch Through On-Scene Size-Up (continued)

Information sources:

  • Dispatchers—provide valuable incident information
  • Your knowledge base—what you know about area structures, water supply, etc.
  • Information from people on scene—fire and police personnel and civilians
ongoing size up
Ongoing Size-Up
  • Continuously evaluate incidents
  • May identify new problems
  • Ask, “Is what we are doing solving the problem at the scene?”
  • Re-evaluate critical cues and modify plan where needed
  • Look for things that can go wrong
activity 2 1
Activity 2.1

Using Size-up to Identify Problems

determining strategy
Determining Strategy


  • Defines the “what” of the solution
  • Is basis of action planning
  • Evolves from identified problems
  • Gives direction
  • May have multiple components
lloyd layman s seven strategies
Lloyd Layman’s Seven Strategies

R escue

E xposures

C onfinement

E xtinguishment

O verhaul

V entilation

S alvage

determining strategy continued
Determining Strategy (continued)

A strategy indicates that you have:

  • Gathered and assessed critical cues
  • Identified problems
  • Evaluated resource requirements
  • Begun planning
activity 2 2
Activity 2.2

Determining Strategy

selecting tactics
Selecting Tactics

Tactics are:

  • Operations that will accomplish the strategy
  • The “how, who, where, and when” of the solutions to problems
  • Prioritized in order by IC
  • Measurable
selecting tactics continued
Centralized control/decentralized execution:

IC responsible for decision and results

Line officers supervise tasks

Firefighters deploy resources

Selecting Tactics (continued)
selecting tactics continued39
Selecting Tactics (continued)

Risk/benefit analysis:

  • Accept no unnecessary risks
  • Accept risk only when benefits outweigh costs
incident action planning
Incident Action Planning
  • Addresses all phases of incident control within specific time
  • Ensures successful outcomes in that time
  • Must be completed in time that allows least amount of negative action to occur
incident action planning continued
Incident Action Planning (continued)
  • Objectives
  • Strategy
  • Tactics
  • Support actions
    • Water supply
    • Utility control
    • SCBA cylinders
incident action planning continued42
Incident Action Planning (continued)

Implementation of plan:

  • Plan not always complete when give orders
  • Directives define objectives to complete to achieve goals
  • IC needs sufficient resource information to achieve results
incident action planning continued43
Incident Action Planning (continued)


  • Continuous size-up process
  • Gather and analyze information
  • Modify and update plan based on progress reports of current conditions
activity 2 3
Activity 2.3

Action Planning

unified command
More than one possible authority on scene:

Goals and strategies may differ

Objectives, strategies, and tactics may conflict

Unified Command
unified command continued
Unified Command (continued)

Crisis Management (former terrorism response term)

  • Predominantly a law enforcement function and included measures to identify, acquire, and plan the use of resources needed to anticipate, prevent, and/or resolve a threat or act of terrorism.
  • The requirements of consequence and crisis management are combined in the new National Response Plan (NRP).
unified command continued48
Unified Command (continued)

Consequence Management (former terrorism response term)

  • Predominantly an emergency management function and included measures to protect public health and safety, restore essential government services, and provide emergency relief to governments, businesses, and individuals affected by the consequences of terrorism.
unified command continued49
Unified Command (continued)

All agencies contribute to:

  • Determining overall response objectives and strategies
  • Ensuring joint planning
  • Ensuring integrated operations
  • Maximizing use of resources
  • Keeping track of financial costs
activity 2 4
Activity 2.4

Classical Versus Naturalistic Decision-Making

module summary
Module Summary
  • Commanders must understand when to use classical or naturalistic decision-making method
  • Command sequence has three steps and three outcomes
  • Challenge is to gather, process, prioritize, and make decisions based on rapidly changing cues