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Personnel Accountability on the Fireground
Posted On: Oct 28, 2009

The ultimate goal of the Personnel Accountability System is to keep track of units, personnel, and their functions and to identify as quickly as possible who may be missing following a building collapse, flashover, “mayday” explosion, etc. The Norwalk Fire Department Accountability System will attempt to build on the procedures and equipment already in place to provide a practical, user friendly system.


This procedure will assist the Incident Commander (“I.C.”) in accounting for personnel in the event that one of the types of conditions mentioned above occurs at an incident. Several NFPA standards require the use of a Personnel Accountability system, including:


NFPA 1561 “Standard on Emergency Services Incident Management System”, requires that: “the personnel accountability system shall be used at all incidents” (5.3.1) There are many means of meeting these requirements. Components can include tactical worksheets, command boards, apparatus riding lists…. and so forth. These components can be used in conjunction with one another to facilitate the tracking of responders by both location and function”.


NFPA 1500 “Standard on Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health program”, (2007 edition) requires the Fire Department “establish written standard operating procedures for a personnel accountability system that is in accordance with NFPA 1561” (sec. 8.4.1).

  • Daily Lineup – The “Riding List” carried on all apparatus in the officer’s position. Used for accountability purposes and to cross check with unit rings for accuracy.
  • Accountability Tag - a plastic laminated picture identification card, attached to a hook for deposit on the company’s unit ring.
  • Unit Ring – a metal ring with the company designation. Accountability tags will be attached to the unit ring to indicate who is assigned on that vehicle. The unit ring should be kept near the officer’s riding position. Unit ring may
be used for accountability if “Riding List” is not available.      
  • PAR - “Personnel Accountability Report” Thephrase used on the radio to indicate that Command wants all companies to verify their personnel are accounted for.
  • Level I accountability - used for all responses.
  • Level II accountability - whenever the I.C. designates an accountability officer.
Accountability Tags

Each member is issued two (2) accountability tags. One (1) tag will be affixed to the top snap hook of turnout coats when off duty. All personnel shall immediately inform their company officer when a tag is lost. The member will use their second tag and notify the Deputy Chief on duty regarding the missing tag. The Deputy Chief will be responsible for obtaining a replacement from the Training Director.

In Station

When personnel report for duty they shall place one accountability tag on the unit ring. This shall take place whenever there is a change of personnel.


Officers shall be responsible for verifying that unit rings accurately reflect the personnel currently assigned to that apparatus. The unit ring will be attached in the area of the dashboard area near the officer’s riding position.


The Riding List shall be placed in the officer’s riding position. This shall provide for a primary accountability system. Unit rings may be used if Riding List is not available.

Single Unit Response (Level I Accountability)

When a single unit responds to an incident, nothing further needs to be done. In the event of an emergency or loss of contact, later arriving units will know exactly who entered the hazard zone and is not accounted for by checking the riding list and/or unit ring.


Multiple Unit Response (Level I Accountability)

For multi unit responses, the Riding List will be the initial accountability system, (unless Riding List is not available, in which case unit rings can be used).

If the incident escalates in size or complexity the IC may choose to designate the incident as Level II accountability. 


Regardless of which level of accountability used, it is imperative that the following procedures are followed to ensure the safety of personnel operating at the incident:

  • The I.C. must maintain an awareness of location and function of all companies at the incident.
  • Company Officers must maintain an awareness of the location and function of all personnel assigned to them
  • Company officers must report to the I.C. on a regular basis the status all tasks assigned to them and their location, and completion of the task.
  • The I.C. may establish an accountability officer at any time, which then moves the incident to a Level II accountability status.
Large or Complex Incidents (Level II Status)

The I.C. shall ensure the establishment of an accountability sector and the maintenance of the accountability board/binder during large or complex incidents. It is recommended that such procedures be implemented when the incident continues to grow in size, complexity, or hazards, or when resources greater than the available on duty units in the City are required.


The accountability officer may be the Deputy Chief’s aide or any other officer or firefighter or company so designated.


When an accountability officer has been designated, that person shall collect unit rings, and place them on the accountability board.


Staff personnel arriving on scene shall report to the Command Post  so the accountability officer can add them to the accountability board.


When the I.C. designates that an incident is a Level II incident, the I.C. shall notify Communications of this. The dispatcher shall then start an incident timer and notify the I.C. at 15 minutes intervals, until the incident is under control.


Personnel Accountability Report (“PAR”)

“PAR” will be the term used over the radio by the I.C. to indicate an accountability check. When Command calls for “PAR” each company officer shall confirm that all personnel are together or accounted for, prior to advising command that that unit has PAR. Situations when the I.C. would initiate PAR can include:

  • Any report of a missing firefighter
  • Any change from offensive to defensive
  • Sudden hazardous event, (collapse, flashover, etc.)
  • Emergency evacuation of the building
  • 15 minute elapsed time
  • Any other situation where the I.C. deems it necessary

An example of Command requesting PAR would be as follows:

  • Main Street Command: “Main Street Command to all units, stand by for PAR”.
  • Main Street Command: “Command to Engine 1
  • Engine 1:                        “Engine 1, first floor, has PAR”
  • Main Street Command:  “Command to Truck 1”
  • Truck 1:                          Truck 1, second floor, does not have PAR.

                                              Firefighter Jones is unaccounted for”

Company Unity

The Personnel Accountability System should be kept manageable if crews operate as complete units and company officers ensure that the personnel assigned to their companies remain together as much as possible. Every firefighter has the responsibility to stay together with his company, or assignment. Each company officer is responsible for the personnel operating under him and will be reporting on the status of his personnel during PAR.


G:\SOP's\2.0 Operations\2.081_accountability.doc


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