Tablet Command and the NIOSH 5

Posted by Skye Thompson on May 7, 2015 9:37:53 PM


“If we hope to reduce the number of firefighter LODDs on the fireground, we must command fires in a way that attacks all five of the NIOSH 5 causal factors.” 

 —Anthony Kastros
Battalion Chief, Sacramento Metro Fire District
Author, Mastering Fireground Command: Calm the Chaos!
Firefighter Inspiration Readiness and Education (F.I.R.E.)


The safest fire is one that never happens. But for the fires we do respond to, critical leverage points exist that will bring higher levels of safety and effectiveness to the fire service.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has identified the top five causal factors of firefighter deaths on the fireground:

  1. Improper risk assessment (poor size-up)
  2. Lack of incident command
  3. Lack of accountability
  4. Inadequate communications
  5. Lack of SOGs or failure to follow established SOGs

Tablet Command addresses each of these critical aspects of incident management directly.



Emergency responders too often rush through or skip the critical step of assessing the situation for risks before diving into hands-on management. Tablet Command supports better risk assessment and heightens situational awareness for every incident by in several ways. First, by making critical checklists easy to use for all incident types, it helps you remember this important first step. Second, by visualizing assigned units on a satellite or street map and tactical interface, the IC is automatically more aware of her surroundings than she would be with a traditional paper or whiteboard style tactical worksheet. Weather information can be referenced with a single tap, a feature that reminds the commander they are not operating in a bubble. All as true for the start of an incident as it is throughout an incident. Ongoing size up is crucial!


Incident Command

Tablet Command significantly improves the incident command process through real-time assignment tracking, incident timers, and PAR check reminders. Because it is tablet based rather than rig-based, Tablet Command allows an IC to move freely on the fireground without compromising command. Mobility on a fireground could prevent an IC tethered to a fixed incident command post not seeing smoke conditions that indicate an imminent flashover.



Tracking units on a fireground is perhaps the most critically under-supported IC responsibility on any fire ground. Despite the wealth of mobile technology growth over the past decades, the idea of truly automated accountability remains unfulfilled. Tablet Command raises personnel accountability by automatically tracking assignments and work timers, and time-stamping every benchmark during an incident.



Breakdowns or gaps in this communication represent opportunities for the fire to get the upper hand. Efficient and timely transfer of information represents the spine of a department’s functionality on a fireground. The Tablet Command interface provides incident commanders richer and more effective communications through improved unit tracking and allow an IC to assess overall incident status at a glance.


Following established SOGs

Departments often lack an effective mechanism to ensure that SOPs or SOGs are standardized, let alone used consistently or measured against. The purpose of standard operating procedures or guidelines is to unify the culture of incident command across an entire department. Updates to these resources can be shared across an entire department instantly with the click of a button. Tablet Commands supports standardization of departmental SOGs by allowing agencies to share departmental checklists and reminders. Policies can easily be entered into Tablet Command in an easy to reference checklist. Furthermore, with Tablet Command, checking off a listed guideline automatically creates a timestamped record that can be used to track performance over time.

Topics: Accountability, standardized operations, Blog, NIOSH, SOGs, SOPs

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