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Conducting firefighter start of shift roll call

Your goal should be more than inspecting uniforms and taking attendance; go beyond assigning riding positions and passing along department-required information

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Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for firefighters and fire officers. Today I am offering some suggestions for a more productive roll call.

Gone are the days when both the on-coming and off-going shifts assembled in their Class A uniforms. Today’s roll call is as likely to be held in the kitchen over coffee as it is on the apparatus floor. Volunteer agencies can take roll call at a regular meeting or drill.

Your goal should be more than inspecting uniforms and taking attendance. Go beyond assigning riding positions and passing along department-required information.

Be prepared. Check in with the member you are relieving. Were there any odd or unusual calls on the previous shift? Is there any damaged or lost equipment? Street closures? Broken hydrants? New communications from Headquarters?

Check the weather forecast. Extreme weather provides an opportunity to review health and safety policies. Check the news. Has there been an uptick in crime, people experiencing homelessness, or mortgage foreclosures that could affect your response area?

Create a learning environment. Discussing recent incidents is a good place to start. They can be from your company or from across the nation.

Make the roll call interactive. Our generation X and Y members respond best to interactive learning. Ask about new tools and techniques that your members may have learned about. Maybe a probie or new member has found or can create an app to assist in conducting fire department operations or activities.

Add a little history. More than a few policies are tied to a past event or problem. Give members some context for why a policy exists. Such discussions remind veterans and inform younger members about why a particular policy is essential to reducing risk during fire operations.

Finally, don’t forget that your reputation precedes you, and your reputation will follow you. If you don’t take roll call seriously, why should anyone else? And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

Gordon Graham has been actively involved in law enforcement since 1973. He spent nearly 10 years as a very active motorcycle officer while also attending Cal State Long Beach to achieve his teaching credential, USC to do his graduate work in Safety and Systems Management with an emphasis on Risk Management, and Western State University to obtain his law degree. In 1982 he was promoted to sergeant and also admitted to the California State Bar and immediately opened his law offices in Los Angeles.