Firefighter Incident Report Writing

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Firefighter Incident Report Writing


Gordon Graham
Category: Fire & Rescue

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for fire service personnel. Today I am going to talk to you about the importance of incident report writing and documentation.

Accurately documenting an incident will go a long way to avoid embarrassment and cost.

Do you ever think that no one actually reads your incident reports? If you’ve ever had the Chief ask about an incident that occurred years ago or if you’ve ever been asked to refer to your incident report in a deposition, then you know the answer. Attorneys, law enforcement agencies, insurance adjustors, and reporters all may end up reading your incident reports.

Your incident reports are written records meant to capture important details for future reference. Months or years later, you won’t remember fireground specifics. Trying to recall events or verbally add facts to a report after time has passed raises questions and doubts. Worse, if you contradict what’s in the report, your credibility and honesty can be questioned. But a well-documented report can illustrate your professionalism, education, and competence. It will also reflect positively on your fire agency. Accurately documenting an incident will go a long way to avoid embarrassment and cost.

Here are a few simple tips to remember when writing your report. Take the time to document every decision impacting operations at an incident. Use a standard form and fill it out completely. Use plain language and avoid fire service jargon and abbreviations. If possible, use a spelling and grammar checking program. Finally, read the entire report and verify the accuracy of your information before you submit it.

Your agency should include report writing in its training schedule. If your agency doesn’t provide training on what to include in incident reports and how to write them, then ask. Like all other fire operations, training in report writing reduces risk.

Well-written and comprehensive reports can help further your career and protect you and your agency from litigation and damage to reputation.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Gordon Graham signing off.

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