1. #1
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    Default Inexperienced FF's as officers

    Anybody ever have this one or have any suggestions for the battle. My fire district allows the chief to appoint the officers he wants. The by-laws state that the most qualified and experienced FF's are to be selected for officer's positions and our chief has chosen to put three untrained, inexperienced men in leadership positions. They are good men and good firefighters but, they do not have the necessary experience or training to keep from getting someone hurt or killed. Most of you are from small depts. like me and I'm sure you get the personal preference over the right choice too. Now that I've challenged the chief's decision with the board of trustees, he and others have stated that they will resign if the board makes changes. We have guys that are certified firefighters, several years of experience, and hundreds of hours of training that are being passed over for personal reasons.
    Joe Matesa
    Olive Fire District
    Fightin' Company 2

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    Default

    This is somewhat of a problem in my company too. Our captain of our heavy rescue has never had any formal training in any rescue techniques .hes been a firefighter for 8 years but has only had inhouse training on our amkis tools

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    Default Getting the best officer for the position

    Your situation brings back memories for me on how our department operated back 10 years ago. That was before we became one department with one Chief instead of (4) individual fire districts. One of the first things we did on the various officers positions was to come up with a set of standards and follow them. How we fill a open position is as follows:

    1). minimum qualifications are (a) member for minimum of 3 years, (b) must have firefighter one, (c) must be able to drive each of the apparatus and be certified as a pump operator and (d) be a member in good standing and be medical approved as a tactical FF. This section accounts for 30 % score.

    2). Must pass a 125 question written test. This test was made up by the state fire school with 100 questions from the state and 25 questions based on our SOP's / SOG's. The tester must get at least a 70 %. This section accounts for 30 % score.

    3). Must pass a oral board. This board is made up of 3 people with one being a deputy chief or higher and the other 2 from outside the department. This section accounts for 30 % score.

    4). The 5% is from a company evaluation form.

    5). The final 5% is the opinion of the Chief and company Deputy.

    This procedure has worked for us and eliminates the popular vote from determining officers. I hope this helps.

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    The by-laws state that the most qualified and experienced FF's are to be selected for officer's positions and our chief has chosen to put three untrained, inexperienced men in leadership positions
    It appears your Chief is in violation of his own by-laws. Seems like a cut and dry case for the Trustees. However, if the Trustees don't override, then work with the officers and help them learn. Just because they are appointed officers doesn't make them smarter, doesn't make them better, doesn't make them all knowing (of course, most of us officers are all of that anyway ) Stay Safe and work with them. The last thing you want is guys not following their officers and causing a split in your department.

    Good Luck

    PS - our by-laws have also been written to include minimum standards for each officer position. Black and white, no option. Meet the minimum's or they can't even run for the office.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    All of our officers are elected by majority vote. Candidates are selected by a committee. Generally, the majority will select someone whom they feel comfortable taking orders from. The hierarchy of command does not apply 100% to our department, due to the fact that we are very small and we have many members with many years of valuable experience. An officer can only be effective if his department completely trusts him.

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    Default Bonesy; you beat me to it!

    Joe:
    Beat them up with their own by-laws. Even with by-laws, the laws state that the powers of the board of trustees rests in the hands of the board of trustees and no by-law can supersede a law. Whew!
    That said; I think you made a fundamental mistake in your chain of command. I think the chief is feeling hurt and disappointed that you went over his head. I trust you did so with his full knowledge?
    Here's what I see; why have rules if you aren't going to follow them?
    You might as well not have rules. It would be better for you if it goes to court. Courts love to hang you out to dry when you violate your own policies and procedures, because that means that you indiscriminately apply them where you want to and ignore them when you want to.
    But the most interesting part of your post was:
    Now that I've challenged the chief's decision with the board of trustees, he and others have stated that they will resign if the board makes changes. We have guys that are certified firefighters, several years of experience, and hundreds of hours of training that are being passed over for personal reasons.
    I will only say that you have a very solid base going forward with your revamped fire department!
    Best of luck. Take care and stay safe.
    CR
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    Stat the course! It sounds like you are doing the right thing!
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    "Not for fame or reward,Not for place or rank. Not lured by ambition or goaded by necessity. But in simple obedience to duty as they understood it. These men suffered,sacrificed,dared all, and died. Let us never forget our fallen friends."

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    How about this.....no standards for fire officers....oh its true...there are fire departments have no standards for who in the ranks can become an officer, just depends on who is the most popular during the annual membership officer vote.
    This is a dangerous practice that must be stopped! Not everyone has what it takes to be an officer.
    If your department has bylaws about officer requirements...use them to your advantage and get them enforced.
    If your department has no requirements...fight for them before someone gets killed

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    my dept is set up where the chief and assistant chief are voted for. the chief then appoints his captain and LT. we do not have anything in the by laws for qualifications or any of the sort.
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    There are standards set forth by the NFPA in regards to firefighters, driver/operators and officers.
    In your department do you have minimum standards for a firefighter( interior operations)? Why don't you have a minimun standard for a fire officer?
    I have operated in departments that had no minimum standards for fire officers. Officers were voted on by the membership based solely on popularity. Needless to say I have operated under some of the most spineless POS officers one could imagine..They spent more time trying to make everyone happy instead of doing whats best for the department and community as a whole.
    we need to have well trained and experianced people leading our departments, not who is most popular that year.
    Any officer that reads this, do not take this as a personal attack....I'm only stating that the fire department needs to maintain a standard on which to judge who is qualified to be considered for an officers position.
    If your department has standards, please post them.

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    Vollie4life, you won't get an angruement from me regarding set standards on qualifications.
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    We have a set of requirements you have to meet in order to be eligable to run for an officer's position.

    If you meet the requirements, you proceed to testing (just oral now...used to be oral and written).

    The top two candidates (or 1 more person than the number of available positions) are then sent to the membership for a vote.
    IACOJ Agitator
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    Originally posted by RyanEMVFD
    Vollie4life, you won't get an angruement from me regarding set standards on qualifications.
    Not looking for one. As you can tell, I'm way against the "good ole boy" system of deciding who is going to be an officer.

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    As someone who has been an "inexperienced FF as an officer" (6 months in and made an officer at 19 due to the lack of qualified personnel) I feel a less experienced firefighter can make a good leader.

    I ended up being the best thought of officer on the department. I was able to keep a level head and learned from everyone and everything I could, but it scared the hell out of me for almost a year. I offered up my slot on at least 5 times that year as we got firefighters into the department that had years more experience in the fire service, but somehow the job kept coming back to me, either they did not want it or they had been around our department long enough to see that I was doing the job right.

    We had an officer in that department that had 25 years in at a paid department that became a total idiot when made him an officer. He dam near killed 4 ff because he was acting stupid, we ended up running him out of the department entirely.


    Do I think new firefighters should be made officers? Not the best plan in town but some times the only way to go.

    Do I think that a firefighter with less experience can do the job? Yes if they are the right person and have the right attitude (Gung ho I can do everything by myself types can get their ***** out of my fire station officer or not).

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    I know how it goes with underqualafied guys getting Officer positions. My last department did that. All Members voted on who they wanted in the positions, there was no are you qualified thing there. We had non-EMS personel in the Rescue Captain position before. But my new department states that to hold an officer position u have to have your Fire Officer training through the state. This helps cut down in non-qualified people getting officer positions.

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    Default Simple officer standards

    A. To run for First & Second Lieutenant:
    1. Must have at least two years in the company and three years experience as Fire Fighter.
    2. Must have New Jersey Fire Fighter Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.
    3. Must have passed Pump School.
    4. Must have an I.M.S. Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.

    B. To run for Captain:
    1. Must have at least three years in the company and five years experience as a Fire Fighter.
    2. Must have New Jersey Fire Fighter Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.
    3. Must have passed Pump School.
    4. Must have served as 1st & 2nd Lt. for at least one year respectively.
    5. Must have an I.M.S. Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.

    C. To run for Deputy Chief:
    1. Must have at least five years in the company and six years experience as a Fire Fighter.
    2. Must have New Jersey Fire Fighter Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.
    3. Must have passed Pump School.
    4. Must have served as Captain for at least one year.
    5. Must have an I.M.S. Level 1 Certificate issued by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs, Division of Fire Safety.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Thumbs up Thanks

    Thanks to eveyone for the responses to my questions. Just to clear a few things up, I did go to the chief first and was told that the new guys have to be allowed to learn just like everyone else. I'm sorry but, learning how to fight fires and run scenes isn't what an officer should be doing on the fire scene, he should already know these things. This answer prompted me to speak privately to a trustee and he said that he agreed that the by-laws were being violated and that I should present my problem to the board at their meeting. I'm all for teaching these guys how to do the things that will one day make them good officers, because with the right training, I think they will. Training them after they get the postion is not right in my opinion. I spoke with a second board member at his request to clarify my position on the matter and he also agreed that changes need to be made and also agreed that there needs to be an interview and screening of any new officer candidates. Thanks again for all of the advice and help.
    Joe Matesa
    Olive Fire District
    Fightin' Company 2

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    Thumbs down Popularity

    I ended up being the best thought of officer on the department.
    District821,
    This is where the problems lie. You say that you were the best thought of officer but, did you have the experience and training when you were made an officer to make the decisions to save a firefighter's life in a deadly situation. This isn't anything against you but, I think not. I don't think at 19, or any age for that, that you have the knowledge to run a fire ground if you have no firefighting experience other than operating a pump or simply wearing a SCBA. Could you read the fires (possible backdafts, flashovers, soft roofs) like the experienced guys are able to do? Did you even know what to look for? Like I said, this isn't a personal decision for me to make in my dept., it's for the sake of a friend's life. If you don't mind, answer the questions I put up, since you're in the situation I'm talking about, maybe you can help clarify things. Thanks.
    Joe Matesa
    Olive Fire District
    Fightin' Company 2

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    Just to clarify being the best thought of officer in the department came after I had been an officer close to a year, attended almost a dozen different training classes and had the experience to know the difference between just making a decision and making a good decision and made those decisions based on everyone’s safety.

    To answer your questions:

    -Did you have the experience and training when you were made an officer to make the decisions to save a firefighter's life in a deadly situation?

    I would have to say no, not for at least the first 4 to 5 months, as I said in the first post it scared the hell out of me and the main reason was not knowing what to due in a lot of situations.


    -Could you read the fires (possible backdafts, flashovers, soft roofs) like the experienced guys are able to do? Did you even know what to look for?

    I already had my firefighter I so I had a basic idea of what to look for, but in no way could I read them 1/100th as well as I can now.


    I compensated for my lack of knowledge by taking a very conservative stance on interior operations (very little interior attack, minimal searches unless we had solid reasons to believe we had people inside) until I had the knowledge to feel confident operating aggressive interior operations. In the end I was very lucky in that I learned how bad that could be for civilians in a classroom and not on the fire ground.
    Last edited by District821; 03-11-2003 at 09:17 PM.

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    minimal searches unless we had solid reasons to believe we had people inside

    District, not trying to start an argument, but if you're not sure if someone is in the structure, someone needs to be doing a search. What would happen if nobody did a search and someone had been inside? What would you tell the families? "Soory, Ma'am, but your daughter died in this fire....... We didn't know she was in there, so we didn't go looking for anyone. Please accept our condolences....." How would the all of you on the scene handle that?

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    Default Inexperienced officers

    District821,
    Seems like you're the exception to the rule. Thanks for answering my questions and way to go on stepping up to the plate and taking all the training . You did prove the point that I was trying to make, I think all the other guys were too, your inexperience as a firefighter caused you to be scared to make certain decisions that an officer has to make. I have to agree with firenrsq77, not conducting searches when you are not 100 percent positive that the structure is vacant and is still tenable to search was not a good choice. These are the choices that I believe the inexperienced people in my dept. will not be able to make either. It takes years of experience on top of your training to make an officer out of a firefighter.
    Joe Matesa
    Olive Fire District
    Fightin' Company 2

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    firenresq77
    As I said I was very lucky in that I learned in a classroom and not on the fire ground.

    I say learned, it would be more appropriate to say an instructor nearly beat it into me at a training class when over lunch I told him how I was operating at the time.

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    District821, my hat is off to you in reconizing that you needed training.
    I live in an OSHA state. I am also an instructor.
    I have seen many "officers" ( this includes chiefs)coming in for the basic OSHA firefighters course.
    That scares me to know that there are people out there on the fireground that haven't even received the basics in training but yet are in the position to make life altering decisions.
    Imagine that your brain is a slide projector......you start off with an empty projector........every call you go on, article you read and training class you go to adds a slide or 2 to your tray of slides. This progresses all through your career. Now tell me, do you want to have a leader with an empty tray of slides or someone that has a couple trays availible.
    Don't get me wrong, not every well trained and experianced firefighter will make an effective officer. But something has to be said for training and experiance.

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    Default Inexperienced FF's as officers

    We have the who's popular and who cares what training or experience they have. Our chief only has the old Phase IV FF certificate with a driving class. We have a captain that sent personnel into a structure when the roof was sagging and someone else called the evac. There isn't anyone on our department less trained than that except for the newby who's only been on the department for two months. Use your guidelines to your advantage and if they want to resign, then so be it. All the safer for you.

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    Default I have watched this thread "grow".

    I noticed from reading all of the posts that there is a common thread that runs through most of them and it is this:
    Many of you believe that there is this point when you are prepared to be an officer. You base that "point" on the amount of knowledge, experience and training that a firefighter has. Do we agree on that?
    I also notice that you seem to believe that there will not exist a certain sharing in regards to continued education or that there won't be interaction with the officer candidate because he should come already "job ready". I was put into an officer's position after three years in. Was I "qualified". Was there a choice at the time? I had taken some training, but needed more. Did I have the knowledge? Well, not completely, because some of that comes from experience, which I didn't have. But, I continued to train, take classes and gain experience. It was on the job. If you have the time and the manpower to send someone to officer's cadet school, then great. But for small rural departments, they are going to make their decisions based on the most qualified person AT THE TIME. I guess I was it. But the men around you can help you with that. It's almost like today, nobody is willing to help an officer grow, because there is jealousy or envy; whatever. You know; "let Mr. Smarty pants figure it out. HE'S the officer." But the problem is; EVERYONE is still learning. Water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, it's ready for the macaroni. When is a firefighter ready to be an officer and a good one at that?
    I retired after 22 years to become a trustee. I was still trying to be the best officer that I could be. I was still learning.
    And you will, too.
    Take care and stay safe.
    CR
    Last edited by ChiefReason; 03-12-2003 at 01:34 PM.
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