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Unconventional Preplanning

Before I even start let me clarify, there is no substitute for getting out in your district. It is the best way to gain knowledge of the buildings currently in your area, and if you are not you should be riding around an walking through as many commercial buildings, and venues as you can. You should also be taking a few extra moments on EMS calls to figure out the layout and security of residences and apartments, and then talk to your crew before clearing up about hose lengths and strategy. You should also be sharing this information with others! Take pictures, put something in your company log, tell someone at shift change, or all of the above!

Now that we are clear, lets be real. There is NO WAY we can look at everything! No matter how active we are in our district we are going to miss something. In order to combat that I have a solution to keep you informed and gather valuable information about what is currently in your district, and what is coming to your district.

Fireman have to eat, in fact it is literally the most important decision we make on a daily basis! We make our daily trip to the grocery store and usually go right after the mission of collecting meals for the day. We often pass one of the best information sources out there….

IMG_3286[1] Usually at most grocery stores, and even department stores there are racks of free magazines. They range from real-estate, fitness magazines, senior living, to local news.

I know what your thinking, “really these magazines, are free for a reason there is nothing in it for me to care about”. Well lets open a few and find out.

IMG_3287[1] IMG_3289[1]IMG_3288[1]

This magazine is an area lifestyle magazine, and has been a source of information for years. When I was assigned to an east end company, we had a development being built in our area with “green roofs”. We found out about it in this magazine and it allowed us to prepare for the challenges, research, and train prior to them getting built. In this edition it talks about a development being built. In the pictures you can see the construction giving companies an idea what it is built out of.

IMG_3294[1] Additionally, since it is published weekly it has a weekly events listing. From a preplanning perspective this can be a great resource. Finding out if 1,000 or so extra people will be coming into your district, will allow you to be ready if an emergency occurs.


We run EMS responses to nursing facilities, and in my current district they are a majority of our call load. This magazine lists every nursing facility in the area, the capabilities they have, their location, and information on the latest in health care for Senior citizens. It is a tremendous reference material for me as a company officer, for all EMS providers.

IMG_3293[1] Lastly real-estate magazines can provide a tremendous amount of information. You can see which houses are for sale, which may give you a clue as to a neighborhood going through a transition from elderly to younger couples changing the possible call types you may respond to. In some parts of the country it may give you a clue as to your next fire, if the home has been on the market for a long time. They can also give you information on housing developments coming to your area, giving you construction types. Also (at least in this portion of  Virginia) developers usually give buyers certain floor plan options, meaning that in a development you may only have 3 or 4 floor plans to memorize, these magazines can give you the layout long before they are built. As in the picture above they can give you what the interior/floor plan is of existing homes. This can give any fire company a leg up! You can estimate hose lays, search priorities, search patterns, etc.

Again getting out and seeing things I always better, but we have to be realistic in our actual ability to see everything. In the absence of this we must get creative, and use other resources to gather information we need to do our jobs better, and more effective. All of the things I have shown you are FREE, they cost no money and they stare you in the face almost everyday. So next time you are walking in the store, even on your day off stop and see what information you can gather from the free magazine rack, it just may surprise you.

As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!




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