Control measure – Hold debriefing or post-incident reviews
Control Measure Knowledge
Debriefing, also referred to as post incident review, can be formal or informal. Debriefing can range from ‘hot debriefs’, which occur at the incident before personnel leave, to large multi-agency debriefs or a public inquiry following major incidents. They are an important part of improving personal and organisational performance. They should take place whenever there is an opportunity to improve service delivery. Active monitoring during an incident can inform and support this process.
Structured debriefs should be used to gain operational intelligence and safety-related information from personnel who have withdrawn from the hazard area.
Debriefing forms an essential part of the management of health and safety on the incident ground. Debriefing will identify any significant information or lessons learned, and whenever possible, the incident commander should debrief personnel prior to leaving the incident. Equipment, PPE, systems of work and training can all be improved as part of this performance management system. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) publication, Managing for Health and Safety (HSG65), provides further guidance on the principles of effective health and safety management in the workplace.
Debriefing is an important part of reviewing and improving performance. There should be a debrief whenever there is a chance to improve standards of service delivery. Commanders should choose an appropriate format for the review. They should conduct it in a way which encourages open, supportive and constructive discussion. If the review covers individual performance, discuss it against the standards for that role and acknowledge good performance and conduct worthy of merit. Commanders should also carry out a process of self-reflection on their performance at incidents.
Debriefs should be used to review the performance of individuals and teams against relevant standards with effective performance and meritorious conduct being acknowledged where appropriate. Debriefs can be used to highlight any unconventional system or procedures used that were successful or made the working environment safer. The recording, monitoring and review of incident debriefs and the outcome of investigations can support the identification of trends to support future learning.
Consider whether existing information held about premises or locations should be reviewed, or whether there is a need to add a new premises or locations into future pre-planning, for example, by adding to a visit or an inspection programme.
Incident reviews may also support National Operational Learning; for further information refer to National Operational Learning: Good practice guide for fire and rescue services.