While serving in an engine
company in Fairfax Virginia an alarm for smoke in
the attic of a very large, multi-occupancy building,
was received. When they were about 2-3 minutes
away from the location they heard the call, "Battalion
43(Code sign for Battalion Commander) to Engine
43 there is smoke in the attic - bring a hand line"!
After laying out a water supply line from the corner
of the block about 300' away from the fire address,
Dennis carried a 250-ft 11/2 "hand line"
up three flights of stairs.. When Dennis reached
the top he found Butz, his Battalion Chief,
nicknamed, "Buns", standing there in his
white shirt with attached gold badge..
Thinking "Buns" would be glad to see an
extra set of hands, dressed in proper protective
gear and holding that all important requested item
- the "hand line", his proud thoughts
were quickly snuffed out. . ----- Buns, wanting
a "hand light", and was curious
to know what Dennis was doing with a "hand
line", and summarily admonished Dennis for
not following orders!
During questioning that
followed three other lieutenants recalled distinctly
hearing the request for a "hand line"
over the radio. In addition a fourth lieutenant
who was not responding to the call also remembered
hearing the term "hand line".
Because of this lesson in miscommunication Dennis
became passionate about assuring good communication
and instilled the use of a "communications
order model". The model requires that each
instruction from the sender be followed by a repeat
of the instruction by the receiver. A similar
model is promoted by Crew Resource Management is
used by an aircrew. For those who criticized
the model, saying it takes too much time, Dennis's
counter is that in most instances there isn't
an opportunity for a second chance to get the communication
right. The need to attain the intended outcome
The Center for Error Management introduces effective
communication tools similar to the model instituted
by Chief Rubin that are designed to help your team
improve effectiveness . For more information
about this communication management area and other
Error Management training areas see the page entitled