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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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.
An officer is an officer ... leave it at that. No matter who or what they may be, they're your officer, or cheif in this case :-) . Age shouldn't be an issue ... it's if they have the experience that matters. Respect your officers, they know what they're doing, or should be at least ;-) .
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Yeah; and a Chevy is a Ford.
Well I am glad to see that this forum can be just like the one I read for our local departments. Someone says something that someone does not like so they start a bickering match. I for 1 am a younger line officer at my home department. I am a 23 year old sergeant. I don't need to rattle off my training, experience, or my stations call volume. I have been in the fire department for 7 years now, and am still learning from the "older members". I am up for the older members to tell me when I am wrong or when I should keep my mouth shut. My department has a mix of the older guys and the younger guys. My fire chief is the only voted position at my station, he selects his other chief officers. Then together they select the other line officers in our department. As far as having the experience a line officer should have or the training I feel I do, also my chief officer's feel that I am ready for that position. Our chief also only puts the ones he can trust to run the show when he is not available for the call. He trust us with running calls and taking command. I was just like alot of the guys on here that spout off when attacked a few years ago. Since that time I have cooled off and have been taught alot from the older guys about respect and what to do when you get in trouble. I have also learned from the older members that when I am unsure of what to do with a situation that I can turn and say what is the best solution. By doing this and listening to the older guys I have gained so much respect, and so much experience. I have only been a sergeant for about 6 months and have never had any of the older guys say I would not follow you into that burning building. They know that if they see something I do not and say something I will take a second to stop and see what is going on. I will use there judgement and experience to help guide us to the safest path for our crew. I am not saying I do this all the time, nor do I need them there to guide me. I have proven that I make the right call several times. I am glad to have the older members in our department and have them guide us younger guys through tough times. All I can say to the younger guys that are my age and younger just stay calm and listen to them, it will benefit you in the fire department and life in general. Also to all the older guys that say younger guys don't have the time in or experience, This may be true for some younger guys. We have alot of surrounding departments that have younger line officers, a captain that is 19, is he the right choice, I don't know, has he been working with the older guys to gain knowledge and experience yes he has. I would not think twice about going inside with him. So before you say do you have enough experience, think that may be the case in your department or most departments, but maybe it is the best or only choice that fire department has. I want to thank all the older guys on here that have said we are trying to teach you something. They are 100 percent correct. They are trying to teach you how to be a good leader, remember to keep an open mind, with out that you are a poor officer. I also want to add about the gentleman that freaked out and left his crew. This is not the case with me, I have an uncle that was a fire chief that lost a firefighter in the line of duty and would not want to live what he has had to. He has had to live with it since in the 80's and it still bothers him to this day. It is hard for him to talk about it, so my thought every fire is we all go to the fire and all come home, no exceptions. You can have as much fun and games at the station but when your on the call its all serious.
Be Safe
John
I was appointed chief at a very young age and if I had it all over to do again I would not have taken the position at that time. That has been eleven years ago. I had served in the positions of Lt, Capt, Asst. Chief, and Deputy Chief when I took the Chief's position and was what I believed well prepared for the appointment. I held national certifications along with State Certifications in my training profile but I still was not ready for the "chief's" position. Age does play a very important role in the position but experence and time in grade and with the department should be considered along with an appointment based on your training, experence, time in grade, and confidence in your ability not on a popularity vote.
That's the craziest thing I've ever heard of! How much experience can this kid have at age 21? Certainly not enough to be a chief officer. And as far as appointing officers, that's a sure way to promote favoritism instead of assuring that the best qualified people get promoted! A better way is to test for company officer positions. I'm sure glad we don't operate like that here! Just my 2 cents, stay safe!
This reminds me of a little story: A young bull and an old bull were standing on a hill looking down on a herd of young heifers. The young bull said, lets run down there and hump one of those heifers. The old bull says, nah...lets walk down there and hump them all.
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!
Make no mistake- a senior or better qualified or an odler person or a more experienced person could still do the exact same thing.

Less likely- sure, but not always. Panic does funny things to people....
MY QUES IS HOW DOES A MAN THIS YOUNG GET IN AS CHIEF MUST HAVE BEEN VOTING TO BE INVOLVED. IS THIS A SMALL DEPT WHERE NOBODY WANTS TO BE IN CHARGE UNTIL SOME GETS IN CHARGE THEN EVERY ONE HAS SOMETHING TO SAY. NO WAY CAN HE HAVE ENOUGH EXPERIENCE,BUT WITH GROOMING AND RESPECT FROM OLDER MEN IN THE DEPT SOMEONE SHOULD BE ABLE TO HELP.. 1ST ASSIT,2AND... HOW OLD??? I AM FROM A SMALL DEPT KNOW WHAT IT'S LIKE WHEN IT IS VOTING TIME FOR POSITIONS NOBODY WANTS A SPOT ..WE HAVE RAN INTO PROBLEMS WHERE PEOPLE HAVE BEEN IN PLAY THAT SHOULD NEVER HAD BEEN IN PLAY... I HOPE THIS YOUNG MAN LISTENS TO PEOPLE AND IS WILLING TO ADMIT IF THE JOB IS TOO BIG AND THAT HE MAY PUT HIS FELLOW FIREMEN IN HARMS WAY TO BACK DOWN AND ADMIT IT IS TOO MUCH.... GOOD LUCK.
I believe a little in what you say here anne. And I would like to add to it...
Todays fire departments dont have elections anymore, today they are called "Popularity Contests", or like you explained Anne, no one else wants or has time for the job so they sucker the younger members into taking the position even though they are grossly unprepared for the spot. Is it the younger members fault? To a degree yes, but not entirely. Its their fault for not saying "Whoaa! I dont have enough experience for this" but mostly its the departments fault for allowing it. Most departments are even cutting back on the REQUIREMENTS for their officers which is the most asinine thing I have ever heard! NEVER subtract from the by-laws or procedures EVER, unless you are planning on totally changing it for the better you should always ADD to them and never take away.

I dont doubt the training of some of the younger members today, thats not the issue. The issue here is the amount of time they actually APPLIED that training in real fires, and at the age of 21 you couldnt possibly have enough "On the job experience" to effectively issue orders to a group of firefighters that might either save, or take their lives. I have been fighting fire for 20 years, am trained as a Level II firefighter, Haz-Mat Tech, Fire Investigator, yet I STILL dont feel I am ready to be a Chief Officer. I have been a line officer already, and will take line officer again if I eventually have the time to devote to it again, but there needs to be a point where you look at the overall picture and say to yourself Its not just about me and my ego, its about the lives of both the firefighters that follow my lead AND the people we serve. You may be very well trained in firefighting, but you still lack the YEARS experience of following seasoned firefighters into REAL fire situations and learning from them and the officers. You dont have the YEARS of watching the officers at drills and learning from them, attending seminars and refresher training and learning the same BASICS over and over till you can fight fire in your sleep. I see too many members attend Firefighter I and come out ready to take over the world...To me those members need to be HUMBLED very fast, and be taught that the training they just received was a good foundation to build the experience on in real time fires. This isnt a bash of new members, its an attempt by a seasoned firefighter to reach out to the younger firefighters and say "You have the training...Great. Now come to the fires with me and start earning your experience and respect. Because you dont only need experience and training to be officer, you also need the RESPECT of the brothers/sisters you will eventually lead into a fire one day. Respect is earned, not granted by receiving your Firefighter I certificates, and maintaining a humble and respectful attitude for the fire service and your senior firefighters and officers was always beaten into me as a Junior Firefighter SOOOOO many years ago...Thats lost now, along with a lot of other things like honor, respect, tradition and brotherhood. Its sad, it really is...

Please stay safe out there.
Moose
To me the bottom line is get some years in then go for a officer position. All of the older guys are are officers for a reason, because they have more knowledge and or experience. There is a 30 year old firemen in my fire company and has some what of a idea on what he is doing but is a 2nd assistant chief, I think he should go down but he has not. I think I could do a Lieutenant or a captains postion right now at 19yrs old. I have more qualifications then some of our officers. I know better though not to run for a officer as i am sure to make some mistakes plus I want to be older also.
I dont know what to say about this topic. I was always under the impression that the leaders needed to be older. You always see the white haired chiefs and officers. But as a member of the US Army, I have found out that most junior officers, being the rank of O-1 through O-3, being 22-29. Thats still young, and the government trusts them with the task of leading other young men and women into battle. Granted they may not have the respect of the troops at first, but they gain it by asking questions and admitting their faults. Also I recently got promoted to Lt in my Vol fire house, I am 19 years old. Too many this may seem way too soon. I agree in some parts. But also it shows that somebody believes in me and my abilities and atributes. Its the same with the 21 yr old chief. The people at that house must think the he knows his stuff. Time will tell wether this is a good thing or not. Just my 10 cents.

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