I was looking for opinoions as to when a person should be allowed to run for a position and what type of experience should they have. My department requires that for you to run for a LT you have to be off probation for a year and then voted in by your company members.


2/27/10: I want to thank all of you who have responded to this. I am finding the information that I am given very helpful. I respect all opinions and advice that I have been receiving. I know that I still have a ways to go in the fire service, been in for 2yrs but EMS for 15yrs, and know that there is still alot of learning to do. I try to take courses to educate myself so if there are any out there that you would think is beneficial I would love to hear about them.  Thanks again.  Kathy

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Hopefully your department realizes that when a member becomes an officer, he/she becomes responsible for their crew's safety. The station officer is a leader and needs to be more than just 'popular', lives will depend on this person's ability to lead, read and understand fire conditions, understand building construction and be fully conversant in departmental operations and administrative procedures.

I suggest that you follow as closely as possible NFPA 1012 Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications (not to mention NFPA 1001 Standard for Fire Fighter Professional Qualifications). I would also suggest that your department develop standards and qualifications for Officer with a testing/application procedure and that your system of voting in leadership be done away with. It's archaic, dangerous and typically says popularity is more important than ability.

Becoming an Officer should not be about status, ego or simply the "next step". Becoming an Officer should be about wanting the best for the community, the department and the crew. Everyone goes home is not just a phrase. It's an Officer's responsibility.
Hi Kathy!

Let me preface what I'm saying here with the following: I don't know your department, it's make-up, and how well your organization runs. So my opinion here is just that- my own opinion based on my own experiences in both a volunteer and career department.

Voting for an LT is good ONLY IF the electorate knows what makes a good LT. It should not be a popularity contest. The candidate should have training in leadership and management, and extensive experience operating in a wide spectrum of fireground situations, and a mature and humble personality.

The company officer is the most important person on the fireground, responsible for safe, effective, and appropriate actions by their crews. Their head is constantly on a swivel- looking out for the constant changes inherent in every situation. They need to be the lookout for those operating above them (chiefs, captains) and those under their direct control.

Above all, the company officer MUST be able to accept the fact that they are now much more than a friend to their crew. Many agree that being moved up from firefighter to company officer is the most difficult transition in their experience.

Finally, maturity and attitude continue to play a prominent role for any blue shirt-to-white shirt advancement. Many want the position for the wrong reason, many are handed the position before being properly prepared. The most successful candidate is one who will be able to apply their proper attitude with a commensurate level of maturity and accept the new challenge with humility and honor.

Not all are cut out for company officer. Many are happy to remain a blue shirt for their entire "career". This is not a bad thing. But to elect an unprepared firefighter to the rank of company officer before they are ready invites disaster for the candidate, their crews, and the entire department.

Extensive experience in fireground operations, training in leadership and people management, and a mature and humble attitude will bring your organization a great candidate for Lieutenant.

Great luck to you and your department, and remember to stay stoked!
that should read NFPA 1021(2003 edition) not 1012...one should also seek out, attend, and pass the certification courses...ie Intro to Fire Officer and Fire Officer I...and any other courses offered...education does NOT stop in the service but is an ongoing process....
Voting for an LT is good ONLY IF the electorate knows what makes a good LT. It should not be a popularity contest. The candidate should have training in leadership and management, and extensive experience operating in a wide spectrum of fireground situations, and a mature and humble personality.

Sadly though, as good of traits as these are (and a MUST for Fire Officers), with no system set in place any vote is just that.... A popularity contest OR i.e. who has the brownest nose if they're appointed. This is not the case everywhere but makes up a pretty darn good percent of them.

Firefighters must excel and master their skills before they can make the transition to Officer. They are the ones training the new probies coming in the door, and lets face it... If they give half arsed training, the result is going to get you half arsed firemen.

Leadership is more than telling a subordinate what to do, it's getting them in the habit of wanting to do it. Consistently and effectively. Build trust in them and they will gain trust in their Officer. If one plans on sending them to do the most ridiculous task, their Officer must be willing to do the task with them.

An officer cannot have favorites either, they have to be willing to punish their best friend the same way they would punish someone whose guts they hate. Fairness... what's good for one is good for all.

These are just a few things in a good Fire Officer, although like I stated in my first paragraph... With no set system in place other than a "1 yr min off probation and majority vote" (According to your post) the majority of line officers in your department will be none other than a good ol' fashioned popularity contest.

(All IMHO of course)
Our department has set up a three year minimal for member to only run for offices such as trustee, pension, secretary and treasure. However, if you want to be a member of the command staff, you must be on at least a minimal of five years. Now some think that's pretty young but my assistant chief just had his five and I'll be honest he was ready. It has been nothing but a dream with him as a partner. I actually started my Lieutenant job about 5 years on and had ran for chief a couple of times and lost to more experienced members. But they have long since gone and I feel, I have worked hard for this job. Taking an officer job on is a huge challenge and takes lots of patience. There are lots of ups and downs. The higher you are the more you give up in the battlefield, because many times I found that I was the commanding officer and the fellas looked to me for the leadership. You really have to step up and raise the bar at a high standard because there will be others behind you. This just improves your department every time a new one takes over. This is my second year as chief and many of the fire nation members gave me some great advice. Because of this, I am going to try for a second term and hope that my guys have seen some great strides. I've also notice that I have a greater sense of pride for all that fight father fire. I do however, miss the younger days when I was the nozzle man and being the first in the door. I hope that helps and I didn't ramble.

Best wishes,

Our Department The fire Chief Picks his officers, He is the only memeber that is voted in by our town board. He does bring his newly promoted officers info in front of the town board and they give there Yay or Nay on it so i guess that is kinda being voted on. Really there are no requirements for being an officer but obviously the chief is not going to throw a green horn in a line officers position. When i got my position the chief had mentioned it to me a few times and then asked me to take it the day our deputy chief resigned. To be honest i was not really ready for the job and had to learn everything about it through experience and watching the other officers movements. Personally i still not 100% sure that im officer material but i do the best that i possibly can and make sure that everyone comes home at the end of the day.
Ditto everyone else's opinion when it comes to training and experience. The availability of all that varies by department. Just remember nowadays the officer has every kind of responsibility for the safety of the crew, not the least of which is the legal responsibility. Evaluate each candidate impartially. Look at years of experience, training record, decision-making ability/level of common sense (maturity) and dedication to the job. Our LT's have been in the fire service 15-20 years each and our Capt. has been in the FS over 30 years. The Chief! Came into the FS with Ben Franklin!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL
Jim, I disagree with the 10-15 year experience. If you qualify and are a trustworthy, levelheaded person with common sence then you should be in the office. I know a few people with 3-6 years in that would make a better officer then ppl with 20 years in. I took over my Lieu position with 10 years on so I would be in your bracket but just because you have time under your belt don't alwayse make you the right guy for the job.
How in the world could you possibly have filled any officer position and actually think that you know what you are doing at 18? I know guys with 15 years that I would not allow to be an officer. There is something to be said for OTJ training and real world experience in this business. Under no circumstance should anyone with less than 3-5 years of solid experience be an officer. This is not 3-5 years on the department, this is 3-5 years of actual experience.
There is no easy answer for you Kathy. IMO: It all depends if the candidate is well rounded, meaning have they been on long enough to understand the rules, regs, policies, has the certifications to be an officer, and as J Brooks said, has the field or response experience. Now you can't put a number of years on the department, because 2-3 years with a person responding to just 10, 20, or 50 calls a year... is not experience ( I have seen 5 year guys never see a fire due to availability and boom they are now possibly the LT calling the shots on the next one) Most have not been experienced enough on those few calls to really be the leader and make decisions now.

But you guys vote, which most often times is done by (popularity vote) so everything I just said is not rellevant to FF1 and 2, Company Officer 1 and 2, and OTJ experience.

Wow off probation and voted in..... not even certified in anything?
Kathy, in our dept you have to have 3 years and 150 hour certification to run for station captain. We don't have LT's just 8 engineers, 8 station captains, 2 Battalion chiefs, one assistant chief and the department chief. To make battalion chief you have to have 4 years and 250 hours of training. To be elected assistant chief or dept. chief you have to have 5 years and 300 hours of training. All years are with the dept not just fire experience. Also all officers are required to have 75 hours of training per year instead of the 20 hours per year minimum for us firefighters. All members are also required to attend our fire school in April of every year and are required to attend 12 meeting per year. We are getting ready to update our SOP/SOG so this may change if it does I'll repost with applicable changes.
Please see edited discussionmessage for note of thanks to all.. Be safe my friends..Kathy

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