Multi-crew responses to a structure fire: Challenges of multiteam systems in a tragic fire response context

John Crowe, Joseph A. Allen, Bill Bowes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Originality/value - This chapter provides a real-world example of a disaster and systematically analyzes the steps and decisions that were utilized during the process from a multiteam perspective. Hopefully, the analysis of the case presented here will assist in developing increased awareness during high-stress encounters and offer an unbiased evaluation of what is required to properly train and therefore mitigate such tragedies in the future.

Purpose - This chapter provides an overview of the case and draws attention to the types of teams who respond to disasters, specifically a structure fire. We then provide a detailed recounting of the case, what resources were at play, and how the incident resolved.

Design/methods/approach - There have been a number of case studies that have documented the challenges organizations face in monitoring complex and turbulent environments and the anomalous events that characterize them combined with multiteam systems' unique combination of intricacy, propensity toward hazards, and necessary team cohesion makes it particularly difficult to foreshadow - and subsequently train for - all possible contingencies. The majority of the cases reported here is based on the official National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report that occurred shortly after the event and which is a required investigation by both State and Federal laws. Although the report is publicly available, specific identifying information was removed to allow for ease of comparison and to emphasize the multiteam system processes of interest.

Findings - As outlined in the case study above, there are many challenges that were faced in this multiteam system response to the supermarket structure fire. We discuss the response of the multiteam systems and attempt to identify a few key areas where miss-steps occurred and how the response would be different when multiteam systems function properly. We conclude with some practical implications from the incident as well as how multiteam systems can be improved based on this case study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-219
Number of pages15
JournalResearch on Managing Groups and Teams
StatePublished - 2014


  • After-action review
  • Disaster mitigation
  • High-reliability organization
  • Multiteam response
  • Safety
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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