Mentoring For The Fire Service

The Fire Service is in a period of growth and transition. The growth of the communities in this nation has led to a need for more firefighters.

  • Involve the entire department membership in the program development and implementation. Getting buy-in will be much more difficult if you do not.

  • Keep the preceptoring and mentoring separate. Preceptoring is task, supervisory, directive, and evaluative oriented. Mentoring is relationship; career and personal success oriented. Preceptors can informally mentor, Mentors should not precept.

  • When a prot?g? picks a mentor of their own choosing, it most closely resembles informal mentoring, which is more powerful than formal mentoring. Consider having the prot?g?s choose any senior officer as their mentor. In all cases the mentor would also need to accept the prot?g?.

  • Provide support and encouragement to all parties in the prot?g?/mentor teams. Do not let them squander their time and do not let the relationship drift.

  • Provide mentoring training to the department and to the mentors. Also, give the mentors communications training.

  • Evaluate the program throughout its progress and with a yearly evaluation and year-end report.

  • Maintain all confidences. If confidentiality is not maintained between the mentors and the prot?g?s, the program will fail, not just the pairing.

  • The Fire Department must provide support and resources for the success of the program. The administration, management, and supervisors must be participants and supporters. Money and time must be allocated.

  • If the department is not ready to implement a program, wait until all is in place. It will be very difficult to recapture and rebuild the lost support and buy-in if failure occurs due to poor planning, lack of resources, or lack of involvement.

Informal mentoring is very powerful. It has been taken for granted that it occurs throughout a fire department. This is not necessarily the case today with rapid promotions, fluid personnel shifting to new assignments, and the large number of retirements occurring. A formal mentoring program should be implemented, implemented correctly, to create a culture of mentoring on your fire department that promotes informal mentoring. Build a mentoring program to pass on your fire department's positive role modeling, history and culture.