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Observing Elite Firefighting Teams: The Triad Effect

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Abstract

In the US, Incident Management Teams (IMTs) like to define their role as ‘bringing order to chaos’. Conversely, French firefighters tend to describe their jobs as ‘organizing chaos’. For US IMTs, internal order is the means to overcome external chaos, while French IMTs consider some (minimal) disorganization as opportunities for enhanced adaptability. What accounts for this difference in the way the Incident Command System (ICS) is enacted? Most importantly, how does it relate to success? Through a set of experiments on a virtual reality-based simulation platform, we found that optimal performance was associated with the presence of certain types of triads the interaction network. Future research avenues are suggested and implications for ICS are discussed.

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