FIRE PROTECTION DISTRICT
Cedar Fire Incident
Engine 6162 Crew Entrapment,
Fatality, and Burn Injuries
October 29, 2003
Draft Standard Operating Procedures
Title: Risk Refusal Standard Operating Procedure
The Novato Fire Protection District is an all risk organization responsible
for responding to and mitigating medical emergencies, vehicle accidents,
hazardous material releases, specialized rescue events, structure fires,
vehicle fires, and wildland fires. As such we must recognize that there
are both acceptable and un-acceptable risks to our personnel that come
with this responsibility.
The Novato Fire District philosophy is that “Every Firefighter
Deserves a Round Trip Experience”. Therefore, every individual
has the right and obligation to refuse an assignment, in accordance with
this SOP, if that assignment is likely to result in injuries, near miss
situations, or fatalities.
A Risk Refusal is a situation where an individual having conducted a
Risk and Situational Awareness Assessment determines that they cannot
undertake the assignment because they deem it unsafe.
Assignments may be refused as unsafe when:
There is a violation of safe work practices, District Policy, the
Firefighting Orders, Watch Out Situations, LCES, etc.
Environmental conditions make the work unsafe
Crew members lack the necessary qualifications or experience
Equipment is defective or unavailable
The risk can not be mitigated and/or tactics cannot be changed
An adequate Risk and Situational Awareness Assessment cannot be conducted
When an individual or person in charge chooses to refuse an assignment
because they deem it unsafe, they must provide their immediate supervisor
with the following information immediately:
The reason for the for the Risk Refusal
To the degree possible, safe alternatives for completing that assignment
The Supervisor who receives the Risk Refusal will make every effort to
notify the Safety Officer. If there is no Safety Officer, notification
will go to the appropriate Supervisor or to the Incident Commander. This
assures accountability for decisions and communicates safety concerns
to the entire incident organization.
If the Supervisor who receives the Risk Refusal asks another resource
to perform the assignment, they are responsible for informing the new
resource that the assignment has been refused and the reasons for that
If an unresolved safety hazard exists or an unsafe act was committed,
the individual or person in charge should also document the Risk Refusal
with a memo to their immediate Supervisor and/or the Safety Officer.
These actions do not necessarily stop an operation from being carried
out as long as the identified risk can be mitigated. This SOP is integral
to the effective management of risk and the timely identification of hazards
through the chain of command to promote firefighter safety and accountability.
In no case should policy impede firefighter safety nor should the basic
premise of firefighter safety be forgotten or neglected.
Activities that present a significant risk to the safety of personnel
shall be limited to situations where there is a potential to save
Activities that are routinely employed to protect property shall
be recognized as inherent risks to the safety of personnel, and actions
shall be taken to reduce/avoid these risks or change tactics.
No risk to the safety of personnel shall be acceptable where there
is no possibility to save lives or property.
We Will risk our lives a lot, in a calculated manner, to save SAVABLE
We Will risk our lives a little, in a calculated manner, to save
We Will Not risk our lives at all for lives, property or the environment
that are already Lost/Cannot Be Saved.
continue reading—Novato FPD Report, Wildland Firing Operations SOP