Step 2: Assessment Centers - Tactical Scene Scenarios
Battalion Chief Paul Lepore
The tactical scene scenario can be one major event, a series of smaller events, or a combination of all of the above. It can be interactive or non-interactive. In an interactive scenario a candidate is given a radio and is expected to give on scene report (size up), assume command, name the location of the command post, request resources, and make assignments as he or she would on the fire ground. The candidate is expected to react to information that is provided during the exam. It is common to have “developments” that occur during the course of the incident. The candidate is expected to take appropriate actions when a development occurs. An example of his would be:
Development – “IC from Interior Division, we have located a victim”
Expected action – IC, I understand that you have located a victim. Bring him out the front door and I will have a medical group standing by.
Engine 1, IC, You are Medical Group supervisor. Interior is bringing a victim to the front door. Your objective is to receive and treat the victim. I am assigning you squad 3.
Squad 3, IC, I am assigning you to Medical Group. Set up in front of the building. You have a victim coming your way.
Interactive tacticals are becoming less common because of the potential for a lack of consistency. The person on the other end of the radio has a script he or she is expected to follow. Since you cannot possibly predict everything that the candidate will say, it is impossible to maintain consistency.
Non-interactive tactical scenarios are much more common. These enable the raters the opportunity to see the candidate in greater detail. I believe non-interactive tactical favors the prepared candidate since there is so much more down time. The prepared candidate takes this opportunity to showcase his or her knowledge. Here is an example:
Candidate – I would assign engine 1 as division two and give him benchmarks of what I wanted accomplished. It would sound like this:
Engine 1, IC, lay a supply line. I am assigning you to Division 2. Give me an All Clear on Primary Search and knock down the fire on the second floor. My expectations are that the officer on Engine 1 would lay in from a hydrant, stretch a line to the 2nd floor and begin a primary search. He would extinguish any fire, but again he knows his number one objective is to give me an “All Clear” on the primary search.
As you can see the non-interactive tactical gives the prepared candidate an opportunity to express his or her thoughts.
Another component of the tactical scene exercise are the mini-tacticals. While the major tactical scenario may last from beginning to culmination of an incident, these are a series of relatively short, quick hitting, job-related exercises. These could be related to operational issues or a current policy or procedure.
Here is an example:
You are a captain of an engine company who has been dispatched to a structure with numerous calls and a report of people trapped. It’s in your first due. As your engineer pulls out of the station he strikes a car. What would you do and why?
Here is a checklist of what the evaluators expect:
• I would immediately notify dispatch that we have been involved in a traffic accident and have them replace us with another engine. I would ensure that the Battalion Chief knew we were no longer responding (this is particularly true if your department dispatches on one channel and has a separate tactical frequency).
• I would check the condition of my firefighters and the condition of the people in the other vehicle.
• I would request PD for traffic control and fire and EMS units for the injured.
• I would ensure my uninjured firefighters or I were treating any victims.
• I would have my firefighters place out road cones or flares to prevent a second accident.
• After the injured were treated, I would remind my firefighters not to admit fault or make statements to anyone.
• I would get names and contact information of any witnesses.
• I would make sure the appropriate vehicle accident and injury paperwork was completed.
• I would make sure the fire chief and city attorney were notified.
• I would make sure that the families of any injured firefighters were notified.
• If necessary, I would facilitate critical incident stress debriefing
• I would log it in the station logbook.
Paul Lepore is the author of the best-selling series of career how-to books for firefighters. You can buy them directly from the FireLink Bookstore