This morning, as I was getting off shift, I was talking to a couple of the guys that had come on shift today. We got to talking about promotions and such. Our last promotional process left many scratching their heads over who was promoted. Anyway, I was asked if I thought I should be the next person promoted. I, of course, said yes.
Then, here is where I got a little confused. The guy questioning me ten said: besides these training classes and certifications you have that are over and above for this position (and he mentioned a handful of these classes), and besides your college degree which you aren't required to have...what makes you the best man to be promoted next?
I had to then ask him if he was serious. He said he was. As I truly believe, having certifications and such do not alone make anyone better than anyone else. But, what I know about myself is it means I have worked my butt off to get these certifications and education. They also are not just pieces of paper,I use this training daily. I am continuously looking for ways to better myself, so I can better serve my FD and the citizens. He followed it up with "so and so" knows their job, even if they can't pass these classes. To which I replied that I also know my job.
Is this a common theme out there amongst fire departments? That you shouldn't know how to do anything but fight fire to get promoted or to get ahead? Is mediocrity routinely rewarded or are we just an isolated case (I hope it's the latter).
Take care everyone and be safe!
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Thread: "Did he really say that?"
08-15-2013, 07:01 PM #1
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
"Did he really say that?"
08-15-2013, 09:17 PM #2
I think that the answer to your question(s) has several different layers.
First, I get the impression that you were one of the members skipped over for promotion and you've got some hard feelings over that. If so, that's a natural reaction for most people, and there's no reason to apologize for that.
That being said, I believe that it was kind of pompous just to come right out and say that you deserve to be the next person promoted. Even if you think you deserve it, it might come across better to say something to the effect of, "well, I've dedicated a lot of time to the department, I certainly hope I'm lucky enough to get the nod next time."
As for the training and certifications, I think that's great - it does genuinely show a desire for personal development. However, does the brass know that you're taking all of these classes to personally develop yourself, or does it just give them the appearance that you're out getting a stack of 8.5x11's to just make yourself look like a more qualified candidate? Have you branched yourself out within the department - worked a 40 hour position, worked a truck company, maybe been assigned to the academy? In other words, exposure to different disciplines within the department will produce a candidate who can more easily be plugged into different positions at the time of promotion, and they'll carry more knowledge, skills, and abilities.
Asking if mediocrity is routinely rewarded is a subjective question, and I don't know enough about your department to opine about that.Career Fire Captain
Volunteer Chief Officer
Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!
08-16-2013, 10:07 AM #3
First off, his question is exactly what you face in most interviews for promotions. Any tool can go and pass a bunch of certifications.
Something has to set the successful candidate apart. What are your intangibles? What about you will enable you to lead effectively? Do you religiously maintain the apparatus and tools, your PPE, the station? Have you exhibited good judgment? Do you respect the chain of command?
The list goes on and on, but the upshot of it is this: Whatever you may have learned in the classroom, what have you learned at the station and on the fire scene that will make you a better choice as officer than all the other blokes who have the same certs that you do?"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.Ē
--General James Mattis, USMC
08-16-2013, 12:21 PM #4
- Join Date
- May 2007
- Midwest USA
What kind of promotional process do you guys have?
Ours is very competitive, based on written examination and oral assessment made by an external panel of fire service personnel. I like it because there is no bias. I know a bunch of guys that a above and beyond as a person a very knowledgeable about the profession buy still they can't pass that testing process, hence not earning the next position.
I like it because there is no bias, the written and assessments are managed by external agencies. Ive heard is one of the toughest in the country. You either meet the standard or not.
08-16-2013, 03:00 PM #5
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
To answer a few of the comments so far...since this was a brief overview of a 30 minute conversation, I only hit a few highlights. First, I'd like to say that I am not pompous. We are a small department...20 people. There is no secret to the higher up (one chief) who is doing what and has certifications and such. When asked about being the next to move up..I didn't just say heck yea, I'm the man for the job. My response was actually along the lines of I am just as ready as the next guy. Then I was asked what besides my certifications and education made me the man for the job. Which I answered my dedication (I have perfect attendance at meetings, have missed only a couple of fires in 10 years, and have lead or helped with many special projects at the FD), then I stated the fact that I am one that many come to for advice or questions about things, even people over me. I of course have to ask advice as well as I have weak areas also, but people know that I generally can help them out with most things and always do whatever I do to the best of my ability.
My question simply is about his dismissing those extras that I have worked for. No, they are not a stack of certificates, they are applied to my dail work. For example, a year ago I got my fire investigation certification and have become our main investigator. This colleague stated that that certification (and I assumed the activities that I have done in conjunction with it) should not count because it isn't required of my position. He was defending someone (not himself remarkably) on his shift that "knows his job" (which I agree that he does...but so do I) but cannot pass any of the required officer classes. Even the prerequisite classes for the officer class. He stated that because he knows his job on the fire ground was enough to propel him to a promotion. I state that being on the fire ground is less that 5% of our job and that one must be well rounded in other areas to move up in a department like ours where the officer takes on many roles beyond being an incident commander. He actually agreed with me on that point, but still thinks not passing classes is OK.
As far as our assessment center, the last one we did included applying for the position. We had to answer several questions essentially relating to our ambitions in essay form. Then, everyone was interviewed by the chief to decide who could go through the assessment center. That cut out about half of the candidates. We then event through an assessment center with 3 outside evaluators. Only one man, the one promoted, has any idea how well he may have done, as no one was given any feedback (which I do not agree with). The beef I had wasn't with that promotion (wasn't crazy about it, but that wasn't the big issue). The guy who can't pass officer courses was not allowed to go through the assessment center. He was told he wasn't ready. Then, when the guy that got the promotion moved up, the guy wasn't allowed to go through the assessment center moved into his spot. The position he filled is the senior non officer who acts as an officer in the absence of the officer. This as always been filled from essentially the first runner up from the assessment center. Ill also note he is related to the chief, but not close enough to technically qualify as nepotism. Though there are rumors of that playing a part, I won't say either way because I don't know...but there is at least cause for speculation.
Anyway, I know this is long but I hope I addressed the questions asked.
08-18-2013, 08:44 PM #6
I would rather have a guy with 30 years of street smarts and a few certs than a guy with 30 certs and a few years of street smarts leading me into battle."Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."
08-21-2013, 02:41 AM #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2011
This scenario is really simple though. The experience level of firefighting between myself and the other employee is very close actually. It's not a "I have certs but no experience to go with it." I probably have an edge as I've been in more decision making scenarios than him. But this is getting really off topic of me having to defend myself. This started as a really simple question: and that is should education and training, even if it is beyond what is required, be considered or discounted during promotions? And more specifically, if a candidate cannot pass these courses (not required for current position, but required for the next levels), should that in turn be counted against him? This fellow employee stated to me that training beyond the requirements should not count for someone nor should failing courses be counted against someone. Everyone thus far has read way too much into this question. Keep it simple!
08-21-2013, 10:38 AM #8
- Join Date
- May 2013
Education and training should definitely be considered as part of overall package. The fact that the courses were taken before it was required shows a high level of motivation.
If a candidate cannot pass these courses it should count against him. Let's face it, most of these courses are not overly difficult. Failing them tells us something about the individual.
10-19-2013, 06:40 AM #9
- Join Date
- Oct 2013
I think that the answer to your question has many more layers and i have no idea about it.
ATI RADEON HD 5670 – SERIES GRAPHICS CARDS FROM AMD
10-20-2013, 06:12 PM #10
- Join Date
- Mar 2003
- Southern California
I know many people who have plenty of education and experience and they are not the right "fit" for the department. I have a very good friend who has his PHD and not a lick of common sense to go with it. I also know people who have zero education and are among the smartest people I know. I would follow them any time anywhere. The reality is that I should be working for them, not vice versa. For some turn of events in their life they did not take the promotional exam. I did. I do not ever lose sight of the fact that these people are informal leaders of whom I often bounce my ideas off.
I think what he was looking for is what do you bring to the table above and beyond the very minimum. Anyone can go to school and earn a piece of paper for an educational degree. Most of us know that the State Fire Officer's courses (at least here in California) are a complete joke.
Why is it that you believe you are qualified to lead the men and women of your organization. Here are a couple of questions that I like to ask in order to elicit a response that can help my outside evaluators determine who are the future leaders of our organization are:
1. Give an example of a time when you made a decision that was unpopular with the rest of the work group.
2. You are assigned as a new officer to a crew that breeds negativity and mistrust of City Administration. Whenever an issue comes up they look at the negative side of it. Their negativity makes it uncomfortable for anyone who happens to work on the shift. How would you handle this situation?
These are just two examples of questions that will demonstrate your ability to lead. You do not learn the answers in a book or in a class. These are real life leadership questions that are seeking real life leadership answers. Leadership takes risk, what he is asking you is what risks have you taken thus far in your career.Paul Lepore
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