1. #1
    Scott Clark
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Default Officer Selection Process - Merit and Education

    The great debate of the modern volunteer fire service is, how can we select the best individuals to fill our fire department leadership roles? They has been several forums discussing this delema but nobody has come up with a concrete plan as of yet. Or have they? I believe an officer should be selected or have the opportunity to run for different offices as long as they have the proper education, years of demonstrated experience, proven devotion, desire and commitment for the overall safety of their communities. Each position should have more but realistic requirements as you climb your fire department ladder. Finding the right personality is a plus and each officer should be evaluated semi-anually. If the officer does not do a satisfactory job, then they should be put on probation or even removed. Accountability is not just for firefighters, it's for the whole fire department! So what do you think? Do you have a plan or thoughts? If you do please put them down and through this forum we all can create a system that could CHANGE the fire service leadership selection process forever.

    If we stand united.... We will never fall.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    <I believe an officer should be selected or have the opportunity to run for different offices as long as they have the proper education, years of demonstrated experience, proven devotion, desire and commitment for the overall safety of their communities.> Scott, what is the proper education? How many years of experience? What level of devotion, desire and committment? I think the lack of good leaders in the fire service is one of our biggest challenges. We need to do a better job of training and preparing people to become officers and leaders of our respective Fire Departments. There seems to be a genuine shortage of plain old "common sense" in many of our fire department's members and I'm not sure that we can teach "common sense". Our Department struggles to find good leaders and officers....we never seem to have enough to fill all the slots. I hope we can find some solutions!

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I liked the idea in one of the other threads...have a test for officer positions. A test for line officers, a test for chief officers. What the tests should consist of, I don't know. But the testing format should eliminate the "good 'ol boy" system and help get some more qualified people in office. I suggest that there be some requirements on who can take the exam. I don't know what these should be either (i.e. certain number of years as member/on fire service).

    The problem this doesn't fix though is the choosing of a good leader. Your elected/selected officer may have knowledge oozing from is ears, yet may not be a good leader. Anybody have any ideas on how to pick a good leader in addition to someone with the knowledge?

    That's my 2 cents...stay safe!

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Hi Scott,
    In the fulltime fire service in Dublin, Ireland, there are four ranks open to the average firefighter, sub-officer, station officer, district officer and third officer.
    I have just started the process for the first rank of sub officer, which would give me command of a single crew on any of the citys engines, depending on where I am stationed. I would still be under the command of the station officer.
    The process I have just started began with a weeks pracital course, were you were given a crew of men and then a mock incident, these included, RTA, Chemcial incident, ship fire, and a structure fire.
    This helped both the training officers and yourself to decide if this is what you are capable of doing. To apply for this course you must have 7 years frontline experience.
    Following this course you are given an oral assessement.
    You then get a study pack, which is followed by a written exam.
    Then you sit a formal interview, were the interview panal will have recived a full station assessement from your present station and district officer.
    Each stage is assisigned a certain amount of marks, and if you reach the overall grade, you are placed on a panal, and made up to sub officer when a vacency becomes available.
    The only problem is it is run in house or by the Dublin brigade, and therefore, personality clashes have happened and the 'who you know approach' has sometimes prevailed, if this system was over seen by an outside body or brigade from a different county, it would, I think work well.
    Hope I was of some help.
    Mark Hyland.

  5. #5
    Capt. Skippy
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Some of the requirements we use:

    1. 5 years firefighting experience.
    2. Promotions are progressive- can't go from firefighter to Captain for example.
    3. Must have CPR, First Aid, Bloodborne Pathogene, C-Spine Control and Bag Valve Mask training current (All annual).
    4. Must be a current Hazardous Materials Technician (annually recert).
    5. Must have IC-200 Incident Command training.
    6. Must qualify as an Engineer (if not already) on all Division apparatus - one ladder, a heavy rescue, a brush rig and four engines.
    7. Must pass the written exam with a 70%.
    8. For training hours: volunteer firefighters are required to have 24 hours annually, volunteer officers 36 hours annually. I know this doesn't sound like much, but on average the firefighters and officers are putting in around 65 hours a year on their own. A half dozen are running over 200 hours a year in training.

    As I had mentioned in a previous forum, education is one of the areas weighted very heavily with points, thus the more education you have, the better you will score. When I went up for Lieutenant, based on the level of hours of education, I had scored higher than the Lt. up for the Captain's position. But refering back to item 2., you can not go from firefighter to Capt. I would not have been experienced enough to do so at that time anyway.

    We used to submit quarterly reports to the Chief in regards to what we as officers had accomplished in the last three months. This has unfortunately fallen to the way side due to the work load the Chief (only full timer in a paid-on-call voluteer department)has to deal with each week. I think we should still be doing it semi-annually as Scott has suggested.

    Hope I didn't muddy the waters further!

  6. #6
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Education and experience are both paramount! But it takes training to put these two together. Without training, These two areas are never intermesshed. You cant expect to be promoted because youve got a good education and you go to a fire call every so often. Your experience isnt inhanced if you dont learn and apply it to the calls you do go on. Unfortunatly, some promotions are based on education or experience alone. Sometimes the correct choices are made. Sometimes you find that the person is lacking in one of these areas.
    Training plays an important role from the first day firefighter to tomorrows retired chief. Promotions should be keyed on all of this!

    In our department seniority seems to play to key of a role. And in others like ours, theres just a lack of qualified individuals. So we promote the "Best One For the Job". Unfortunatly a few of these people now know that there time is going to come and get to "laxed" and wait for it the next time. These issues need to be dealt with.
    Promotions should meet certain qualifications reguardless of position. If there is not enough qualified people for the jobs, promote the lesser under a probationary measure to insure that they do get the nessecary training in a specified period. If they do not meet these requirements, then bump them back until they do. The only thing to be gained is knowledge!
    To The Heat!

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