Had something happen in our county that raised a few eyebrows and figured I would throw it out and see what the emotions are. Recently, a company in the area elected a 21-year-old chief. I had heard (nothing factual, just strictly hear-say) that some of the members had issues with this. Many of them, of course, being the older and more experienced members. I am not sure if they are upset about being outranked by a younger, less experienced individual or reasonably feel that he is incapable. Just curious to see what everyones opinion is on the situation.

I am a young officer myself. I was 21 when I was appointed to the fire sergeant position. I am confident in my abilities, both on scene and in station, as are the members under me. Our system is designed so the fire chief is elected in December and takes office in January (one year term). The chief then chooses his officers and presents them for approval of the company at the January meeting. The chief of course has his own opinions and courses that he feels an individual should have before being placed in the position. Of course, no chief would place anyone in an officer position if he/she were not comfortable being represented by this individual or having this individual making decisions be it on the fireground or in the station. I would hope that the general membership electing a chief, no matter how that particular stations system is designed, would abide by the same guidelines. I feel that as long as the individual has the knowledge (station workings, incident stabilization, personnel issues, etc.)and maturity and has demonstrated such, then age should not be an issue.

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Very interesting comments. I myself was appointed to the Chief's position at a fairly young age, 32. We were an all volunteer department at the time with 20 members. Training was offered, but not really pushed. I will tell you, I had no clue what the chief's position was all about but I had to learn quick. I was appointed chief in October and in December we had an ISO survey. You know the one they do every 10-15 years. This forced me to learn the techincal side of it. In our department my deputy chief has 37 years in. I begged him to take the chief's position but he wanted no part in it. On the scene, we worked together very well and that made it alot easier for me. I took the idea that everone was very important and noone's position was more important than the other. The responsibilities were just different. I allowed the officers in the department to be officers, allowing them to make desisions that in the past the chief would mico-manage. The NFPA 1403 requirement must be met within one year of signing up. During that time no entry into burning buildings or running mutual aid calls. To meet the 1403 standard, I added that each class must be taught at the NC FF1 and 2 level. We now have 36 firefighters, 6 traffic officers, and a support group made up of 18 women. We have a paid person during the day and we have added rescue into our service. We did improve our insurance rating by one point. My board of directors are as happy as pigs in the mud. Honestly however, I still think I am too young and need some more experiance. My daughter is 2 years old now and I have missed so much of her growing-up, it seems like yesterday we were at the hospital getting ready to have our little girl.
Let me understand this a bit, does most of the Fire Dept. elect there Chief and Officers each year.
That would seem a little strange to me, as a position is for those who are competent. There are 3 parts to me on this matter, of course on is your training as well as the courses you have taken to
get to this level. Other part is experience in both the pratical training as well as real life. Last is part in which both affects you as for the interview and crews that they have trust in your judgement.

I have been on for more than 10 years, have been a training officer for 5 years. Our SOG's state that you can not be in the position as a training officer unless you have been on the dept. for at least 5 years. I'm a Cert. Firefigher, and have put more effort into firefighting. Then I ever did in school or any other job. My wife and friends who know me laugh on the amount of schooling and training I have done. I was well known for skipping 4 out of 5 days at high school.

But my question is who would want to take on a job and responsibility for a position of only 1 year.
That's a lot of work, and you get things set up and then someone else or a new crew is changed each year for votes?
Ron for a 19 year old you acted just as i thought you should. I teach young guys like you that have about as much respect for fellow firefighters as you do which is little or non at all. All those classes don't mean a thing if you can't put into practice what they teach. Yes some of them are skills but the most important skill they teach is respect and maturity. I think you need to sit down and do some serious thinking into what i have said because i am deeply disappointed that you acted in that way. As far as the possible 21 year old Chief well there isn't much to talk about, from expierence most of the time when election time comes in a department all it is, is a popularity contest and it is wrong. Lastly if you want to learn something take the time and sit down and listen to how the old timers use to put fire out and what they had to use to put fires out especially grass fires if you have them. I know a guy that is on my department and has been for 47 years and they use to use a tow sack and a broom soaked in water to put grass fires out.
I agree with you brother, In my old dept on Long Island you had elections for 2nd Lt., and 2nd Assistant Chief. Once you made it in you were there for 2 years, than moved up. When you were captain you were running against another captain ( Engine and Ladder Companies) for the position of 2nd asst. chief. Than the Chief of Dept had office for 2 years than that was it, you were an ex-chief which pulled as much weight as chief did, and you were still respected. In my dept now, they vote for all 4 chiefs spots, 3 captains and 3 Lt.'s every year, the same people could be in office for years and years without change.
Yet in my old dept, you worked with the officers both behind, and ahead of you for a long time and the new officer took the reins from the outgoing and continued his/her fight. Todays fire service makes little or no sense to me, its lost a lot of respect and brotherhood. Its a shame.
This post was in reply to one that is on top...Its directed at Ron Williams and meant to be advice, not an attack.

Your COCKY...Big difference. And you are someone I stay away from at fires because your dangerous. Its all glitz and glamour with your kind, and front page pictures. I was told something a LONGGGG time ago by a fireman advisor when I was a Junior firefighter...and I hope you listen bro and dont ignore me..."Id rather go into a burning building with someone who is constantly learning rather than someone who thinks he knows it all."

My only fear as a firefighter is someone who thinks theyre gods gift to firefighting and they know it all. Keep Learning...Listen to those of us who have BEEN here longer than you and have seen more than you, were not trying to bring you down, were just trying to get you to open your eyes and learn from those of us with experience. Yours is the worst attitude I have seen, and I hope you can change brother.

Ok for 1 I'm constantly learning, i take classes all the time, and on scenes i dont act like i know it all, my chief which also is my dad does listen to me cause for my age i am very experienced and knowledged. And thats why i got told by every guy in my fd that they would go into a fire w/ me. trust me you "OLD GUYS" that your saying is why im like this, i got challenged all the time to show my knowledge and skills. and sometimes had to get ignorant about it to get my point across. and i recommend you know me on a fire scene before you say something like that. i have seen more than what you think i have at 19. and i have a instructor that said "you are exactley like me" but yet everyone around knows him as the one of the best firefighters in the area and most knowlegable. and ill be the first to admit when Im wrong. and i DON'T act like "IM GODS GIFT". but i know everyone has first impression and i guarentee yours is wrong about how i am.
i use my skills all the time, and if i don't use them all the time i practice them and practice them every month or so. you don't know my skills, nor do you know how i train.
Im a explorer and we have ranks just like a fire house. But i have a problem just like this I was out ranked by a younger less experienced person who has no idea how to be a leader, They also know very little compared to me and some other explorers, I think he was just favored by the post advisor and thats how he recieved his rank. If anyone has any suggestions on what i should do i would i appreciate it thanks.
Brother, You got my point all wrong. I am glad you are training, excellent, keep it up. But, you need to understand that the training is only the beginning, ok? You now need to go forth and fight fires next to brothers/sisters who have been doing this for a long time, APPLY your training in the real world, and KEEP learning from your officers and senior members. And above all else, keep and open mind and a HUMBLED attitude. I am just afraid someone like you will rush into the next fire and not pay attention to the signs around you and get hurt or worse, killed. I am concerned for you bro, not trying to make you look bad. Just merely saying that you need to gain experience now with your training. Ive read your profile and your list of classes and I am impressed. But you still lack the experience, which you will get in time and you will eventually make an awesome officer.

Your right, I havent fought fire with you...but I have SEEN firefighters like you and they were always the same outcome. I have improperly judged you bro and I apologise, I shouldnt have said I wouldnt fight fire with you. BUT...If I ever do fight fire with you and your ignorance got me hurt I would definately let you know about it. Keep training, and keep trying to improve your skills and knowledge, and if you ever have a question ask any one of us. Thats all I was trying to say.

I hope your Thanksgiving was great, and look forward to talking more with you.

Stay Safe
Hey, Jason:
I was 36 when I made chief.
Guess I was a slow learner! (wink)
And be thankful that you live in the age of video, camera phones and wireless computers.
It isn't "real time", but it's better than missing her growing up altogether.
I missed a lot of "Kodak moments" of my son. I would have to leave a ball game, only to find out that he hitting the game winning home run. Despite it all, we are both well adjusted.
Family first or at least, try to believe that. I know the responsibilities as chief can be daunting, but I don't regret stepping up to it one bit.
When you step back and see how well your family AND your fire department has done, you will swell with pride.
It's a great feeling.
Read this. It is TRIAL testimony at a trial of an asst. chief who was charged with negligent homicide of another firefighter. I'll add my notes at the end.
-What happened upstairs as the fire grew-

Gary Spaven
As the house filled with smoke, Spaven found himself trapped upstairs. He called for a ladder. He went to the side of the building and told Kimball there were still three others inside.

Adam Croman
Croman stated at trial he took Morris and Golden to a second-floor window, but flames and thick black smoke from the first floor fire were licking up at us. We got to the hall area and sort of just nudged each other to try to get downstairs. As the three firefighters tried to crawl backward down a burning staircase to escape the inferno surrounding them, Croman realized he couldn’t make it down that way alive. Moments later, Croman testified he lost contact with Morris and Golden. Croman states You go from human to survival mode. You can’t explain it. We were all just panicking. We didn’t know what to do. It got intense. I just bolted out. We were yelling at each other. To this day, I can still hear screaming. It was mind-boggling. Croman found the burn barrel room and crawled until he felt cardboard over a window. I made a decision. I had to get out. My hands were tingling. I put my hands out, my arms and I just dropped.

Benjamin Morris
Ben Morris stated at trial that after donning full protective gear and being positioned on the floor next to Golden by Adam Croman in the upstairs bedroom, he and Golden waited. Croman returned in about five minutes. Morris stated He came back to the room, stood in the doorway and said ‘come on guys, we got to go, let’s go’. You could see the place filling with smoke, said Morris. As the firefighters tried to escape, they quickly lost contact with each other. I never made it to my feet. The room filled with smoke. I was confused. I didn’t know what was going on. Morris said he panicked and became disoriented. Extreme heat prevented him from making it to the blazing stairway. He felt along the walls for one of the boarded up windows in the bedroom. Then he heard the bell on his air tank start to ring. The tank was running out of breathing air.
Morris lost consciousness. He next remembers waking up in grass in the front yard after being taken out of the house.

OK; my notes.
Brad Golden was a 19 year old firefighter for Lairdsville FD in New York. He died on Sept. 25, 2001 during a live burn training exercise. Brad, Gary Spaven, Adam Croman and Ben Morris were on the second floor of the house. Gary Spaven was a 19 year old second asst. chief, Adam Croman was a 21 year old second floor safety officer/RIT consultant/ignition officer for the burn, Brad Golden was a 19 year old firefighter who was to play a "victim" and Ben Morris was a 19 year firefighter who was to play a "victim".
Long story short? Spaven and Croman BUGGED OUT when conditions deteriorated, leaving Golden and Morris to die! At trial, their AGE became a focal point of the prosecuting attorneys. All of the certs that Croman supposedly possessed, but could not be produced at trial didn't mean squat on THIS day. I will tell you right here and now that a more seasoned officer would NOT have left his men and would have gotten them out. How? BY NOT LEAVING THEM, BUT LEADING THEM!
And the asst. chief who set the fire? He WAS convicted, sentenced to jail, fined and cannot be a firefighter in New York ever again.
So, you can understand that some of us "older" guys get a little nervous when a 19 year old comes into a forum and wants to spout off, show a lack of respect for those trying to give them solid advice and want to counter with "you don't know me"? That statement, in itself says that you need to grow up.
Right now, with all of your certifications, you can manage.
But after you get EXPERIENCE, you can lead.
Put me next to Moose. He gave you good advice and you took offense to it.
Thanks for you words of wisdom, they make me feel alittle better.

I am proud of how the fire department has progressed. Still however, when I am at the fire department working on a grant, preparing for a live burn, or re-writing SOG's during the day when I am off from my real job (EMS). I stop and think I need to be with my little girl instead of her staying with her grandmother. The time we spend together I try to make extra special. (Everytime she hears a siren she says "firetruck daddy in firetruck") She is very smart and healthy as a horse. I am very thankful for that and that is what makes me swell with pride.

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