In most cases, complacency will result in the death of a business due to a lack of innovation and progression in a competitive market however, in the business of the fire service complacency can result in actual death. This complacency does not have to occur on the fire-ground itself, in fact most of the complacent acts begin long before the bell goes off. Consider yourself to be in the same line of work as a soldier in a war-zone since both have the same deadly consequences. Do you think the soldier’s first time checking out his rifle occurs during a firefight? I bet not! Do you think the first time a soldier trains on strategies and tactics is as he is entering a building full of insurgents? I bet not!
The truth is, that we are given ample opportunities to prevent death by complacency prior to the emergency tones going off. The basics of our job is what kills people. Firefighter doesn’t check out airpack, air pack fails, firefighter dies. That is the direct line of complacency killing someone. The less noticeable line occurs through years of “checking boxes” in regards to inspections, training and other mundane tasks. This type of complacency becomes a tradition that is passed down through the generations of firefighters. It may not kill you or your crew but a generation or two down the line, it will.
As an officer, there should be a generous portion of energy expended to combat the complacency that occurs when people are required to do the same thing over and over. Getting involved, incorporating different aspects of training, and requiring your crew to maintain proficiency are all ways to combat this epidemic. Ultimately, whether on an emergency scene or sitting at the breakfast table with your crew, complacency has the potential of death!