Reporting is an essential component of working with others. Reports contribute to the situational awareness for those that need it most – the planners. The more specific the information, the more helpful it will be.

In situations that are outside of firefighting, you may be part of a project team and take the lead of a group task. What the task of reporting looks like might vary depending on what kind of task you are undertaking. For example, firefighting operations offers an environment with shorter time spans and less ‘paperwork’ whereas being part of a management support team requires more documentation and possibly longer timeframes. Both activities rely on information being reported effectively.

Progress Reports

Progress reports are used to inform management of the:

  • Rate of progress compared with the agreed schedule in your work plan
  • Goals for subsequent time periods and to provide a forecast for the completion of a project

Check that your report covers every item that was in the work plan for the reporting period and gives an update on any problems that were in the last report and have not yet been resolved.

Reporting on Team Activities

While the activity is being undertaken, you should keep your Crew Leader informed of progress. Usually this means advising when any key parts of the activity have been completed and keeping in touch with them at least once every 30 minutes. Generally the portable fireground radios are to be used for this purpose.

If at any time the conditions of the task change that are beyond your ability to adapt and are not within the brief of the task, you should advise your Crew Leader immediately. Your team is acting as a part of the Crew Leaders team and therefore their situational awareness relies on feedback from you. The Crew Leader may become focussed on ‘bigger picture’ issues so you need to keep them as informed as possible. 

When providing information to your supervisor:

  • Keep it simple
  • Prepare what you are going to say beforehand and have any relevant documentation with you to ensure that the dialogue is efficient and effective
  • Briefly outline the problem and its likely impact
  • Outline the alternatives available and your proposed decision
  • Provide the reasoning for your decision
  • Wait for your team leader to respond; do not repeat yourself or expand unless asked

A good habit to get into is to carry a notebook with you during firefighting and jot down anything of interest when it happens. This might include clues to the cause of the fire, comments on the performance of firefighters (to assist with their assessment for qualifications) and suggestions for improvements to equipment, procedures or tactics. Use checklists to cross check that the team carries out all of its functions. After a long incident, for instance, it is not difficult to forget to do such things as refill the water tank or refuel the pump. 

Situation Reports

Your Crew Leader will be required to provide Situation Reports. They may use the following ITASC format to convey that information.

Team Meetings

Meetings provide an opportunity to share ideas and help develop team spirit. They encourage problem-solving and reaching agreement on how things should proceed. Group decision making encourages commitment to decisions made. Meetings can also be used for reporting and briefings; for sharing information, discussing issues; making decisions and agreeing to actions. In an emergency, members of an Incident Management Team (IMT) meet many times during a shift to report on progress, discuss information and determine priorities. In the field, the IMT will meet at least prior to and at the end of a shift for a briefing and debrief. A well-run meeting encourages coordination and people can keep up to date with developments and changes which in turn leads to better planning and cooperation between different work groups

Regular team meetings are a useful means of tracking team progress and keeping all stakeholders informed. The more specific, straightforward and factual the information that team members share, the better basis for agreement there will be. Input from all present should be welcomed and issues which impact on team performance should be discussed openly.

This could include things like:

  • Allocation or reallocation of staff
  • Equipment problems
  • Unexpected events
  • Technical difficulties

Always follow up on any actions that were agreed in the meeting.