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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Hey Everyone, I was in on the first two pages, and I was getting caught up on my reading (had a NIMS course today). I managed to get through about the middle of the fourth page. That's less than two pages, usually takes me about five minutes. It took a lot longer tonight. There's some serious stuff going on here. This is good, huh Art? Communication, an exchange of ideas, commentary. I'll finish the rest, but I had to stop and consciously relax. I put on some music and stretched the stress away. Then I wrote the following on Word. So consider this goodnight from Northern Idaho - where we just had our first snow that stuck - 9 inches! Hope you all take this to heart...it's from the heart...Be Safe
"Okay guys, here’s my take on it…This is a level of maturity, not an age we’re talking about…and field experience, and life experience…
Age does not necessarily mean wisdom.
Any time we find ourselves in a new experience, we apply the knowledge and skills we already possess, while heeding the advice of those with more experience whom we trust with our very lives.
ICS, NIMS, other command structures, politicians, boards, committees, field supervisors, trainers, chiefs, captains, lieutenants, sergeants, engineers, techies, drivers, grunts and newbies…
Then there’s family and friends
Being a parent to every kid on the planet, no matter how old you guys, I mean they get!
And all our other jobs and careers
And Love and respect for humanity
So why do we do this again?
It’s for the pay and the glory, right?"
i m in line with everyone else here i dont think at 21 you have the needed exp and knownledge needed to be in the position of chief.i have 10 years of service as very active in dept that im with.i know my self im not ready for a "white hit" as we say.im 28 y/o and im not sure im ready to be a LT in my dept but as one of the most trained men in dept i dont feal i have the experence needed for such a position.training is all well and good get all you can but nothing can taken away for the years of experence a person gains from time put in.for him to take position is a sign that he is not ready for all that he now has riding on him and him alone.i dont know him/she so i may be way off but it may be a power trip for this person to be in that position.this is only a failure waiting to happen hope no one is hurt or killed by this.
Wow a 21 year old chief what did he do start his own fire dept im sorry i understand young officers in there 20's ive been in fireservice over 30 yrs no way would i trust a kid as chief no experince litte wisdom of members and in this day and age we need experince leaders i feel sorry for him in that position hes in for a whole world of shit and god for bid he makes wrong decision and someone gets hurt or killed where is this town good luck borthers
Hey Tim, why don't you find out who this young new chief is and invite him to the Nation?
I am in the same county and no one in this county runs as much as that john.... at the most the busyest station runs 500 calls total. :)
I think thats great that younger firefighters have the chance to move up like that and yea maybe the older more experienced firefighters should be albe to move up but its how they act and etc. so i think its cool, i'm 15 and are studying to be a vol. firefighter so to think u can get higher and have better honors then thats cool not saying that firefighters like you are not honored because you all are but you kinda get what i'm saying but young fire fighters like myself don't have enough exp. to be a cheif or LT.
Without knowing the ins and out of how the US Fire Service's operate and their full rank structure, I'm really sittign on the fence with this.

Is it an administrator role, is it an OIC role, etc. Is the positioned appointed by experience, years of service, competencies or who in the brigade throws the best BBQ at election time?

There's so many factors.

Having said that, it's happened and as person who was elected at a fairly young age into senior positions, I can say this quite clearly- Give the guy a chance. Who knows? He may excel and be the breath of fresh air the brigade needs...

I can't cope with people who knock others for having a go and stepping up.
Lutan1, I respect that opinion of yours truly, as I also was someone voted in as officer at the age of 19...but I still do not think that, myself included, someone that young and untested by TRUE emergency situations, and without at least a good 10 years of fighting fire, taking classes, and handling dept politics can truly do the job required of the office. Hell, I dont even think some of the VETERAN people can do the job right! lol Mostly its about the power thing, some people just want the power and respect that comes with the office. They want the radio in their car ( Or even the Chiefs Car in some depts) and the red lights and sirens, ans the POWER to walk up to another firefighter and bark out orders...basically for most its an ego trip and a lot of officers forget what they are there for. If these young gentlemen being discussed here cant take all of our criticism on these forums and get all defensive and bent out of shape...ON AN INTERNET FORUM...how are they expected to handle real life situations of criticism by civilian press, other officers and their firefighters? Just a question for all of you to ponder as we continue the debate.
But I do respect what you are saying lutan1, and in no means am I bashing you or your opinion. I hope that this reaches one of the gentlemen in question at least....
Chief Philips
Thank you for the kind words. I wish you much success in your new duties.
Keep your people safe
These young people who are having leadership "thrust" upon them need to know, understand and have an appreciation for the extraordinary enormity of the tasks that they will face. If they are a part of a caring/nurturing department, then they will get the help that they need to succeed. If they are on a department that resents and sabotages any efforts by young men/women to advance up in rank, then they will fail miserably and leave resentful, bitter and with a bad taste in their mouths for the fire service.
With that said, I also believe that there should be national standards set for advancement, even for volunteer departments.
When it is left to the good ole boys and former homecoming kings and queens to "elect" their leaders, it could be quite possible that the most qualified aren't being "elected". I get a little nervous when I see a '74 AMC Gremlin racing to a scene with lightbar all aglow!
ISn't it more important that if he's gone throguhthe righ process to get the job, that he remembers how he got there, where to go to for help, knowing his linitations and respecting the "older/senior" members?
There are nationally recognized standards for every position in the fire service. It does not matter what the size, or makeup of the department and it does not matter sex or age. The only thing that really matters is qualifications and being able to apply the knowledge learned successfully
Hopefully this new Chief will be at FDIC taking as many courses as he can to help in meet all the demands of the job tactical and managerial. I also hope that he brings many ff and officers from his department to FDIC so they can all help have a safer department with better qualified leaders.

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