Trending Topics

It’s all about location: Command post management, Part 2

Detailing the pros and cons of the incident commander’s three options for the command post: inside the vehicle, at the back of the vehicle and in front of the incident

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a four-part video series on command post management, detailing the acronym LABOR: Location, Announce, Box, Observe and Relax. Watch Part 1, which describes how to use the acronym to bring calm to chaos, and Part 3, which focuses on Announce, Box and Observe. Part 4 covers Relax and details a mayday checklist for mitigating emergencies on scene.

By Marc Bashoor

In Part 1 of our discussion about command post management, we talked about the acronym LABOR. That’s Location, Announce, Box, Observe and Relax.

There are three primary options for where an incident commander can position a command post: inside the command vehicle, at the back of the command vehicle, and in the front yard of the incident. Remember, you must follow what your department says in terms of the command post if they don’t allow you to select the option you prefer.

1. Inside the command vehicle

Inside of the vehicle, you need to be sure that you’re in a position that you’re not going to end up getting blocked by a fire truck that pulls up, because then you’ve totally lost your field of vision in front of you. Find a spot where it’s pretty obvious that they’re not going to pull in.

If this is the decision of your where your 10 by 10 box is going to be, then you’re going to sit in the front seat. Make sure that you have a form or chart. Some places have a mount that goes right on the steering wheel, or you can just as well position it in your lap, but everything’s right in front of you. I’ve known plenty of people who say, “I don’t need a chart; I can do it all in my head.” Well, I’m here to tell you that as things get heavy in this incident, you’re going to wish you had the chart.

I personally don’t like the inside of the vehicle. You have a tendency to roll the windows up, which a lot of people like, but when you roll the windows up, you’re not able to observe as much. When we talk about the “O,” you’ll understand what I’m talking about. I prefer the back of the unit.

2. Back of the command vehicle

I prefer the back of the unit. It doesn’t take long to get yourself set up, get yourself opened up, get your command chart out, make sure your radio is turned on. You start out with that paper that you already had and then you come back here.

The entire vehicle may be part of the 10 by 10 box. If there are people who really need quiet, they can go sit down inside so that they can listen. I prefer to be out here where I can hear, I can observe what’s going on.

Make sure you have the communications capability with you. If a portable is all you have back here, that’s OK, but you really want to have a mobile radio so that you have the power that you need, and then the portables can be used for people who need to go other places.

3. The front yard of the incident

I’ve used the front yard many times in my career. I prefer a vehicle, but you can’t always get a vehicle where it really needs to be.

Being in the front yard doesn’t mean you’re 15 feet from the front door. You really don’t want to be that close to what is potentially a collapse zone or any kind of IDLH atmosphere, but you need to be in a spot where you can see and where you can be seen.

Get some assistance, too

Remember that one person doesn’t have to do all this themselves. Get yourself some assistance at the command post. Maybe it’s an engine company that you’re not using, maybe it’s some support folks who aren’t able to go inside, but they can help you with other things. Find those people that can talk on the radio so that you can have the time to stop and think.

In the next video, we’ll cover A and B for announce and box.

Chief Marc S. Bashoor joined the Lexipol team in 2018, serving as the FireRescue1 and Fire Chief executive editor and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board. With 40 years in emergency services, Chief Bashoor previously served as public safety director in Highlands County, Florida; as chief of the Prince George’s County (Maryland) Fire/EMS Department; and as emergency manager in Mineral County, West Virginia. Chief Bashoor assisted the NFPA with fire service missions in Brazil and China, and has presented at many industry conferences and trade shows. He has contributed to several industry publications. He is a National Pro-board certified Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor III and Fire Instructor. Connect with Chief Bashoor at on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Do you have a leadership tip or incident you’d like to discuss? Send the chief an email.