Based upon rank/position; "What is the Single most important thing you should either know (knowledge) or be competent in (skill), within your position?" i.e; Firefighter, Firefighter/EMT, Lieutenant, Captain, Engineer/Apparatus Operator; Safety Officer, RIT Officer, Battalion or District Chief, Shift Commander, Deputy or Assistant Chief, Chief of Department etc. Name the position and what you believe is THE Most Important thing you should either know or be competent in………(OK, IF you're having trouble picking just ONE, try the top two..)

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I Think The singel most Important think any one shoud know is that our safty comes first because if we don't feel safe than how are we to save someone or something.
Knowledge is a huge factor in being a fire officer, although being super book smart officer is not always a good position to be in because you need a great deal of street smarts to be a good fire officer. A good street smart officer has it all, he has to be saftey minded and stay one step ahead of the situation he has to handle and has to be a fast thinker. Captain and LT are the best spots in the house. Be safe out there
In fourteen years in the fire service, my experience with fire officers is this: I have seen some the THE most "book smart" officers that would fail at every turn to put any of that knowledge into practical application. Yet have seen other officers without an extensive academic background, make all the correct decisions based more on experience and "gut-instinct". This is not to say that they were reckless, or compensating lack of knowledge with being fool hardy or taking unnecessary risks. My opinion of an excellent fire officer of any level, is one that possesses a solid understanding of the textbook strategies, yet has the experience and courage to know when the theoretical SOG's and SOP's will not mitigate the situation presented before them. Let's face it...we do not work in an environment without risk. History has proven to us that there IS NO textbook, routine call...although we all seem to think that there is a routine call. We need officers,( and senior firefighters )to read these situations on their feet, on the fly so to speak. All the while being as safety conscious as possible. We must all be responsible for ourselves and each other, and for the benefit of those we protect. The last point I would like to bring up is that an officer needs to be a good leader and effective communicator. Just because they carry the rank of a bugle or two ( or five), does not necessarily make them a good leader. All of the above is factored in, of course, but add to this the responsibility of taking care of their subordinates below. I don't mean baby-sitting, but being in touch with the needs of their people. A crew with good leadership that trains, works and plays together builds a stronger bond and is ultimately more efficient in their duties than those without good leadership. A good leader will never order a subordinate to do something that they themselves are not prepared to do themselves.An effective leader will listen to his/her people when there are other ideas or suggestions, but will still be decisive in their own right.( Two heads are better than one, four better than two) Ultimately, in a perfect world, the entire chain of command would operate in this manner. With inter-department politics and internal power struggles this is seldom the case, but we should all strive to make this as practical as possible. Summed up...I'll say it this way.The officers I respect the most are those who have the knowledge and experience to read a scene, take care of their people ( in quarters and on scene) listen to other ideas to problem solve,and inspire that bond of brotherhood so that we all go home. "Omnus Cedo Domus"
I agree with you 100%
Obviously we all agree that safety is the #1 priority. That said, I think it is also extremely important at all levels to be able to admit we don't know it all. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. That help could be in the form of a second opinion or it could be turning command over to someone more knowledgeable in that particular evolution, or anything in between. Officers can't be looking to have every decision validated and obviously there are times that the knowledge they have (combination of street smarts and classroom smarts is the optimum) has to be the sole thing they base a decision on due to time factors. There are times, however, when we do have time to get help and no one should be afraid to ask for it. An officer or firefighter that thinks they know it all and never need help is a dangerous one!
One last thought to add...attitude reflects leadership.
You got that one right!!!!
i agree safety is the most important, but close behind that is knowing how to communicate over the radio, and next is following orders.
I agree that safety is #1 all around. Always remember the phrase, Everyone Goes Home. Also, communication all around - talk with who you are working with to get teh job done safely. Experience can solve many things in teh heat of the moment.
Safety is one of the most important competencies needed in any officer, whether he/she be the company Lt. or the Chief of Dept.

Sometimes the best book smart officer is not the right officer either. He/she may know the right stuff from the book, but do they have what it takes to keep their personnel safe and out of danger?
As a chief officer, being able to provide for firefighter and public safety is the most important task; this is achieved through an in depth knowledge of our area, and of fire behavior; among other things. Another key skill is the ability to manage and motivate people. Understanding how the various personality styles operate within the department, and knowing how to meet their needs, is critical for a smooth, professional environment.

Great dialog and discussion so far! BUT we're still being way to general-Think about the one Single most important thing you should either know (knowledge) or be competent in (skill), within your position?" Again, if you're really hard pressed to come up woth just one-then what are the top two or three things? Try to get to the essence of a competency or a skill (set). Let's see what the nation is thinking

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