Title: A closer examination of command and control practices by incident commanders during realistic operational exercises in the Netherlands

Authors: Jelle Groenendaal; Ira Helsloot

Addresses: Faculty of Management Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Comeniuslaan 4, 6525 HP Nijmegen, The Netherlands ' Faculty of Management Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen, Comeniuslaan 4, 6525 HP Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Abstract: Little scholarly attention has been devoted to understanding command and control practices among incident commanders and the extent to which these practices contribute to response safety and efficiency. This paper examines incident command and control practices of 23 battalion chiefs from a Dutch Fire Service during realistic exercises using largely identical scenarios. A helmet-mounted camera in conjunction with field observation was used to gather data. The results show that although incident command and control practices varied in detail, the strategies used were largely the same. No relationship was discovered between incident command and control practices and response safety and efficiency. A reason for the lack of significance of the command and control function was that battalion chiefs relied essentially on information and advice given by crew commanders, which did not provide a basis for insights other than those already present among crew commanders. Implications for practice are provided.

Keywords: incident command and control; incident commander; battalion chief; fire service; emergency; frontline; naturalistic decision-making.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEM.2018.089159

International Journal of Emergency Management, 2018 Vol.14 No.1, pp.51 - 71

Received: 29 Oct 2014
Accepted: 15 Jul 2015

Published online: 06 Jan 2018 *

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