The Art of ARFF (part 5) - Maneuvering

Sun Tzu states that "there is nothing more difficult" than tactical maneuvering. "The difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain." In Chapter VII of his, The Art of War, he enters into a broad discourse on how exactly to accomplish this.  There are three main points that can be applied to the work we do:

  1. Importance of discipline.
  2. Use of resources.
  3. Sharing of victories and rewards.


"Maneuvering with an army is advantageous; with an undisciplined multitude, most dangerous."

In the fire service we are familiar with the term discipline as it refers to organization, structure, and uniform operations.  IFSTA Essentials of Fire Fighting, describes discipline as "an organizations responsibility to provide the direction needed to satisfy the goals and objectives it has identified."

Discipline is not just the sole responsibility of the organization or the organizational heads.  Self-discipline is the responsibility of every individual.  In our business where times can sometimes be slow, it becomes easy to slip into complacency, and just complete the minimum tasks and requirements.  This is an undisciplined mind.  Self-discipline mandates that we constantly work toward improving ourselves, our departments, and our community/customer.  Self-discipline is taking it upon ourselves to do the hard work that will make the department better, and push it towards is goals and objectives.

"We may take it then that an army without its baggage-train is lost; without provisions it is lost; without bases of supply it is lost.  We cannot enter into alliances until we are acquainted with the designs of our neighbors.  We are not fit to lead an army on the march unless we are familiar with the face of the country - its mountains and forests, its pitfalls and precipices, its marshes and swamps.  We shall be unable to turn natural advantage to account unless we make use of local guides."

This speaks to the benefit and necessity of taking full advantage of the resources that are available. It is easy to complain about lack of resources, it is easy to request additional funds for more tools/equipment/apparatus.  It takes a bit of 'sweat equity' and creativity to ensure that we are fully utilizing the resources that we have available. This includes those resources that we utilize for training and teaching classes.  It also applies to resources that can be used to further our knowledge of the community, facilities, and aircraft.  

Your fire prevention personnel can provide a wealth of knowledge in regards to building fire protection and life safety systems.  Are you fully utilizing these individuals and extracting as much information out of them as possible?  Do you regularly interface and interact with fire prevention to ensure that all personnel have the most current information regarding the facility?

Aircraft managers and crew chiefs are experts on their aircraft.  Are you establishing relationships with these individuals?  Are you setting up training and tour opportunities with these people for your personnel?

The internet offers an endless supply of information, training, and knowledge in the ARFF field.  This information is all free or low cost.  Here are a few valuable resources that I look to:
What are some resources that you are using?  Share those in the comments below.

"When you plunder a countryside, let the spoil be divided amongst your men; when you capture new territory, cut it up into allotments for the benefit of the soldiery."

No victories are won by a single individual.  No fire incidents are successfully addressed without many functioning team members. It takes many people working together, in their particular area, to accomplish victory.  When we are rewarded, or receive special mention, we should always pass these on to our team.  It is because of the team that we are able to accomplish our stated goals and objectives. There is no room for individuals to only push their personal agenda or build themselves.  When the department is functioning as a "united body it is impossible either for the brave to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone."