Working with Law Enforcement in the Fire Service

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Working with Law Enforcement in the Fire Service


Gordon Graham
Category: Fire & Rescue

Gordon Graham here with Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Today’s Tip is for my friends in the fire service, and it’s about your relationship with the law enforcement officers in your community.

How can we tell if we’re helping or hindering each other?

Every day, you work alongside law enforcement. Sometimes, you’re personal friends. But that doesn’t mean you share the same professional perspective.

How well do you operate together? When was the last time you talked about things like incident objectives, scene safety, or departmental policy? Can you communicate directly with each other on a radio? What about in person? Do the same words have different meanings depending on who’s using them?

All too often, we hear stories about firefighters being arrested at highway incidents. Police officers getting injured in fires. Or EMS providers getting hurt at active law enforcement scenes. How can we tell if we’re helping or hindering each other? When should we step in? When should we be out of each other’s way? The only way to answer these questions is to talk about them.

If you’re a chief or a department training officer, consider setting up an interagency training plan that addresses how the different disciplines operate. We can all stand to learn something about each other’s procedures. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy a little light-hearted ribbing about who has the better job?

Regardless of your rank, take the time to get to know your law enforcement counterparts and learn about their job. Ask them what they need from you and offer them your insight on fire operations. Communication is the key to avoiding conflicts.

Whether you’re operating at a structure fire, a traffic incident, an EMS call, or an active shooter event, you must be able to work effectively with law enforcement. Good professional relationships often start with personal ones. It’s up to each of us to do the work and ensure we’re complementing each other’s missions.

And that’s Today’s Tip from Lexipol. Until next time, Gordon Graham signing off.

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