15 Dec 2022


Risk Management: Formulating Strategies and Tactics

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Fire is an important and indispensable tool, but any uncontrolled fire will always lead to losses. However, losses kindred to uncontrolled fire vary exponentially. Risk management strategies and tactics relates are geared towards ensuring that uncontrolled fires result in the minimum possible damage (Puls et al. , 2016) . Fire damage can be categorized into three major classes. The first relates to the loss of life as a direct consequence of the fire and cannot be quantified from a pecuniary perspective. The second relates to material losses of items damaged by the fire, and while the value may differ exponentially, this damage is both quantifiable and compensable (Puls et al. , 2016) . Finally, there is the loss of the lives of firefighter and rescuers be they formal or informal and who albeit cannot be quantifiable from a pecuniary perspective only makes sense if the death resulted from an actual and possible salvage of life and precious property. 

The first aspect of risk management entails the saving of human life . The cardinal question in this regard is premised on whether or the uncontrolled fire poses a risk to human life. Hall, (2014) is a peer-reviewed book published by the National Fire Protection Association, the official trade association of firefighters ’ in the US thus adjudged as a credible source. The sources place fire economic losses in the USA at $14.9 billion, with only 10% of the said pecuniary losses accounting for human losses. Human losses may seem small from an economic perspective, but in actual sense, a single soul lost or human being maimed is a catastrophic loss. The principle consideration when approaching the fire should, therefore, be whether human life is at risk and how to mitigate that risk. 

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The second aspect of risk management is the possible cost of saving or seeking to save human life. This contention may sound extremely cruel, but with uncontrolled fire being a life and death situation, this risk management factor must be considered . However, the same result places the losses of volunteer firefighter at 43% of the economic losses. Volunteers will seldom die trying to save property but will in most cases be seeking to save human lives. Whereas all life must be saved at all cost, risking the life of volunteers inordinately for the sake of life that might not be saved under the circumstances amount to the taking of inordinate risks. The life that is in danger of the fire is precious, but so is the life placed at risk trying to save that life. Statistically, for every one life directly put at risk by fire, four other lives are at risk trying to save that one life. 

Finally, the last aspect of risk management is based on the nature and quality of property put at risk by the fire. This aspect is used to determine if the said property can be saved and if the property is worth saving. A room that is on fire may contain a million dollars’ worth of paintings and a million dollars’ worth of diamonds. It makes sense to attempt to save the paintings but not the diamonds. Further, the safety of the firefighters is crucial. Puls et al. , (2016) is a peer-reviewed journal that analysis the 1982 NFPA performance of personal alert safety systems (PASS) standard hence adjudged as a credible source. This article adds another factor for consideration when facing secondary risks such as that of property to wit how safely equipped the firefighter is to face the obligation at hand. The availability of standard safe gear will also be a factor to consider when assessing whether or not property can be saved . 

The article Sendelbach, (2012) correctly considers the standard approach to risk management in the case of fire as advocated backward . The article is based on the color coding of the commonly used risk management approach by American firefighters which is threefold. The first approach, considered as the green-light relates to risking as much as possible to save lives. The second approach is taking the limited risk to save property no matter how grand and is considered as the yellow light. Finally, the last approach is the taking of no risk when property or life is beyond salvage and is considered as the red light. This classification begins with and is dominated by the green light. This entails an initial aggressive drive to save lives without taking enough time to assess whether or not there is life in the building and if the same can even be saved (Sendelbach, 2012). 

Sendelbach considers this approach as wrong since it is lopsided and only considers the safety of fire victims against that of firefighters (Sendelbach, 2012). According to NIOSH, (2010) 75% of firefighters who died in the cause of duty in the decade between 1998 and 2008 did so within or around buildings which were later found out not to have contained any savable human victims. These firefighters perished either because enough time was not taken to find out if the buildings on fire were occupied by human beings or in an attempt to save property. An approach that places the life of a potential victim whose presence or absence and status is unknown against that of a firefighter whose is safe but about to risk it all must be flawed . The right approach should begin with the red light. After a rush of an uncontrolled fire, the firefighters should always begin with a red light which should then turn yellow or green based on a careful analysis of the circumstances found on the ground. 


Hall, J. R. (2014).  The total cost of fire in the United States . National Fire Protection Association 

NIOSH. (2010, July). NIOSH Alert: Preventing Deaths and Injuries of Fire Fighters using Risk Management Principles at Structure Fires. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from  http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-153/pdfs/2010-153.pdf 

Puls, A. K., Young, W. F., Remley, K. A., Healy, J., & Gonzalez, L. A. (2016). Development of Laboratory Test Methods for RF-Based Electronic Safety Equipment: Guide to the National Fire Protection Association 1982 Standard 

Sendelbach, T. E. (2012, June 20). Risk Management for the Modern Fireground. Firefighternation. Retrieved from  http://www.firefighternation.com/article/strategy-and-tactics/risk-management-modern-fireground 

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