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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Your right. I have never ran a call with you, so I can't attest to that side of it. All I can speak of is your post. I took offense to your post. For numerous reasons. You made some great points in the post, but it could have been a little more politically correct. And I felt the personal attacks against me were unnecessary all together. I was nominated for chief of my department for this year (prior to the 21-year-old being elected in his department) and respectfully declined because the other individual that was nominated was quite simply more suited for the position. As a result of declining, I was nominated and voted into the presidency for this year. It's good that you are well known in your county and others. That is a great start. Confidence is also a great thing to have. There is, however, a huge difference between being confident and needing to tell everyone to try and be better than them. Honestly, thats the impression I received while reading your post. Please remember that this is a worldwide site and anyone can read the post and form an impression of you and your department based on that post. It would benefit both you and your department for you to not use curse words and refrain from personal attacks. Especially individuals whom you have never even met.
I understand the situation greatly. I myself am a Captain for our company at the age of 24. The real question is not age, but experience! I have seen alot in the fire service but can admit that I haven't seen everything yet. So maybe I'm not as experienced as some members in the company, but I have taken numerous fire classes to better myself as a firefighter and now an officer. Along with that I have just received a degree in Fire Protection Technology. I'm not saying that this makes me any better than the previous or even the next Captain to step in. But I feel I have put in my time and have a continuing earn to educate myself and the other members of my company on fire matters. I took alot of grief from a few of the older members of the company when I took office, I got the "What does he know" and "I'm not listening to him he's younger that my youngest child." And at first it hurt, but with time the guys grew with me and started to become confident with the decisions I was making.
So the question I ask is in reply to some of the other replys, Why should being an officer be soly based on experience and maturity? There are guys in the company who have been members for over twenty years who still crash under extreme circumstances. So what makes them more quailifed to be an officer than someone younger coming through the ranks. I feel that any member who has common knowledge and the willingness to take criticism should be given the oppertunity to lead his peers. We, the younger generation, are the future of the fire service, and shouldn't be driven away from wanting to be leaders. The fire service today is a continuous learning experience, I believe there is no one better person for a job. Hence the expression: "Train safe, Train OFTEN!"
From experience from my department and from around my county who has had young chiefs in has not had any problems. For instence my dad was 22 when elected Chief. From what i was told from other membership that was under him at the time ( for i was not born yet and couldn't tell you myself) things went good and everything worked out great. He was 16 when he first became an officer. Myself as a young officer 18 when first became Captain now 20. I've had my ups and downs every officer does. But the only way the 21 year old Chief can be succesful is if his other officers and membership is behind him 100%, and not fighting against him beacuse there mad there under the command of someone younger. And if the company didnt feel he could do it I'm sure they would've never put him in the position to be in control of such decisions and responsibilities of someone elses life.
WAHLSTROM
well said. I just know what I was like when I was 20 and wrestlling in college and at 21 and in the navy and even at 25 and entering the fire service...I was all about proving myself and getting respect...only to find out respect is good, but wisdom is better. While many techniques and tactics can be taught in class, wisdom must be learned by experience either personal or by OBSERVING others and that takes time. Thats why I prefer (and its only my preference) that the top dog or even any batt chief or captain have enough years of service to have wisdom and prefer the smart move to the "ballsy" move at any emergency scene. Or to posess the wisdom not to act in a way that would bring discredit to your fd or you or the fire service in general.
But as you so wisely said the fd under this kid ( in my fd wich is a large old urban fd kid is a term of endearment toward the younger ff who are smart and ambitious "new prick" is the term for new ff who think they already know everything...so you start out a new prick and have to earn the title kid) has to work with what they have and that means they should follow the points laid out in your post.
it was included in a emt update class that i had to take it was like 2 mins lol but its cause i already know about them lol
ok tim... when u stated that u were nominated for chief would that be in the paid dept...
Three years ago, we had a young man at age 21 become a chief officer for a department nearby. His department is a member of an organization that is made up of 24 other departments.
He was nervous at first, didn't know what to expect and wasn't even sure that he should or wanted to be chief. He is a member of one of those very small departments where the old ones just want to help out, but not run things and young ones who want to change the world yesterday. So, Corey had his hands full.
But he was very dedicated to getting better as a leader and many of us started mentoring him. We suggested training for him, books and on-line material that he could read, getting him involved in the organization and keeping in touch when he had issues.
Three years later, he is a bright star in our local fire service, his men and women respect him, he has proven himself as a leader and will serve as an example for other young men/women who wish to become the leaders of tomorrow.
It takes the right attitude by teacher AND student to take the fire service into the future. Age should be considered, but not the over-riding factor. Maturity and willingness to learn/listen are at the top.
Art
No. Volunteer. Chief for my paid department is appointed by the city manager.
You know; so much can be drawn from the words we choose to use. In everyone's profile, it asks us to "tell a little bit about ourselves". Some get giddy with the excitement of sharing all of their certs; some will be more humble and simply say something like "too many to remember". But, with regards to how and what we write, we should choose our words very carefully. With reasonable people, when a disagreement over what is said exists, it can be resolved very quickly by one saying "here is what I meant to say; sorry you took it wrong".
But if the other is not reasonable, then they will continue to fight for what they perceive as a "personal attack". Which is why a couple of threads have been closed lately.
This is a very good discussion topic, if we control our emotions, stop "skimming" the posts and actually read them.
Ron; part of your responsiblility going forward will be to share your knowledge and experience with others, even people who sit behind keyboards and monitors thousands of miles away. Obviously, you want to do that or you wouldn't be a member here. "Member" being the key word. So, there is no need to call someone names or go on a personal attack over a misunderstanding.
The point that is going to be made over and over again is NOT that you have alot of certified training, but how much EXPERIENCE that an officer has. In my mind, I only need two questions answered when I have appointed an officer: 1) Can he/she keep their team from getting into trouble and 2) if they can't, can they get them OUT of trouble? Do you think it goes much deeper than that, then consider this: when you reach that level where someone can look at you and know without hesitation that you can lead them, protect them and will risk everything to get them out of trouble, then you have arrived in the fire service.
There is a "father/son" culture that exists in the volunteer fire service, which says that older men (dads) don't do well taking orders from younger ones (sons), regardless of certifications. The career path isn't structured in such a way. Following chain of command isn't an option. If you haven't figured it out by the time you come out of academy, then you won't be a firefighter.
Part of being a good leader is being a good listener and respecting who is saying it. You can dismiss an idea as good or bad without breaking a person's morale.
I will close with this: do you know everything in the book or which book to look it up in?
An old smoke eater told me: FIRE is measured in degrees; FIREFIGHTERS are not! They are measured in WEIGHT; pulling their's AND your's.
Look Listen Learn.
Art
First, let me start by saying that you seem like a smart and knowledgeable person. You make good points but I think you, as well as many other younger firefighters miss the bigger, overall point. And please, do not take this wrong, this is just my opinion and feelings on the matter and in no way an insult to you or any other younger firefighter. Its all about experience. Training is great, having a working knowledge of fireground strategies and tactics is a must, but without practicing these strategies and tactics over and over again for YEARS, and refreshing that training every 3 years or so and making every move you make at a fire scene repetitive, that training is nothing. I think its great that you have training and feel confident, Im sure your a great firefighter. But when I went through the Junior Firefighters in Long Island, my father was a firefighter. Growing up, I watched him all the time and learned from him. It took hi 15 years to be elligible for Lieutenant. I learned that the more time in the dept you had, the more respect you were earned. In short, training is good, but its the EXPERIENCE that should qualify someone for officer. It seems as if the younger generation of firefighters wants to rush into being an officer...why? Take your training, become efficient at what you do, pay attention to officers and old timers, follow their lead at fires and do what they tell you, and in time that training will grow to experience and respect. Its not that the old timers are mad at you being an officer, or dont want to take orders from you, its that when they started out THEY had to work hard and EARN the spot. But today, training hours are longer, family obligations are greater, and the volunteer fire service is seeing a drop in membership. So, dont take it the wrong way if an old timer seems upset that younger, more in-experienced firefighters are becoming officers.

On the other hand, as younger officers go to more fires and classes they too will gain experience. So keep at it brother, listen to the senior officers and even the senior members, and dont grow a big head!! lol. Keeping an open mind is the key, and always, ALWAYS stay on top of new and refresher training, never let it drop. Good post brother.

Stay Safe and keep on training.
Moose
I agree that agre should not be an issue. I am 26 years old and in my 4th year as a line officer, 1.5 as a lieutenant and 2.5 as a captain. maturity is deffinitly a factor however there are some 19 year olds with more maturity than some 40 year olds. bottom line is that age does'nt automaticly bring along with it maturity, Just like years in the fire service does'nt bring experiance. Somone who has 30 years in a rural slow department that maybe catches a fire or two a year does'nt have more experiance that someone with 7 years in the fire service with a department catching 100 fires a year. To be a officer, expecially a chief officer it takes time to prove your maturity and experiance no matter how many years in the fire service or how old you are. I do however disagree with the post about the man elected chief with 17 months of experiance. As a fire chief you are legaly resposible for everything your department does on a call whether you are on scene or not. A lawyer would have a field day with you if you told him on the stand that you have less that two years in the fire service. Also I don't think you can stand there and effectivly command a fire scene if you have not fully experianced the type of conditions that you are sending your men into, and 17 months is no where near long enough to gain that experiance even if you are in a busy company.
Wow and wow. Did I mention "wow" to this whole conversation. I didn't really read the whole entire post, but i'm surprised this didn't turn into another "paid" vs "volly" argument. But I did read the part where someone was comparing our soilders to firefighters. That is completely wrong on so many levels, I'm a career civilian firefighter who works with the military every day and they deserve so much more RESPECT than to ever be compared to a firefighter. With that being said, I don't know of any "legit" paid department appointing any 21 yo fire chiefs. However, It does happen in the volly depts alot where I live and it is usually a popularity contest. I'm up for Lt promotion this time around and i'm only 26. I have gained the respect from all of the guys in my dept young and old, not from certifications I might add, but from my work ethic, my ability to do the job, my proven performance on the fire ground, and my overall experience. Fact is that I would NEVER, let me repeat myself, I would NEVER have been the firefighter I am now without the experience and knowledge of all the "ol' salty dogs" still in the dept that truly love the fire service and have dedicated the rest of thier career in molding the younger generation into what it should be. Its sad that the fire service has moved in a political direction led by the spending of money on all this new and pretty equipment ordered by the good ol boy club whose leader is a 21 year old. Enjoy your career, oh yeah, don't forget to tag that hydrant, the house really is on fire and your not going to get the job done with 1000. Just read that out of my rookie manual.......lol what's up Allen

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