A volunteer with the Strathmerton CFA (http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/) has become a Captain at 24 years of age.


Full article at: http://www.cfaconnect.net.au/news/captain-at-24.html


I'm not sure how the rank structure compares to the US, but here, he is the Captain of the local volunteer brigade, and would be supported by a number of Lieutenants.



At 24 is it too young?


Does he have enough experiene in both life and the emergency services?

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I realize how thin my resume really is and continue working to add to it with the right kind of "thickening".

But we are talking about Aussies aren't we? Not just regular guys but more crocodile dundee orientated where they do more than just throw a shrimp on the bar-bee... These guys aren't wusses. They box kangaroos for crying out loud.

All the guys I have met to date from the land down under have been pretty hard core in my opinion and hearing that someone at the age of 24 accomplishing this rank never even was an after thought.

For that matter, here in the US, with volunteer and pre-volunteer fire explorers or whatever the title, time is time on the job or around it. For anyone who questions this, I ask you to look at the son's and daughter's of firefighter mom's and dad's out there. And tell me that they did not have an advantage, nor did it take as long for them to promote through the system.

Is it unfair? I don't think so. Life is not fair and in this profession, the more advantages you can tuck under your belt, the better off the people you are going to serve will be. One more sign that this is really ok is the fact that Australian News Services are covering this and acknowledging the fact that he can and has handled the job. How can we be nothing but supportive for this young man. Remember, it could easily be YOUR son or daughter... just sayin'

Youse chiefs crack me up.

You're being extremely generous here - "time is time on the job or around it"? Not where I come from. Time on the fireground is what matters. One of the members who posted here is 21, with two years in the fire service and is a captain. I don't care if he was born in a firehouse, he can't possibly have the kind of experience that I would expect a captain to have. Come on, man.
Good points WP.
That's actually impossible over here. In DC you need to be 19 just to hand in an application. Test is held usually every 2-4 years like most large cities. After 5 years on the job you are eligible for a promotional exam. However, the promotional exam is only given every 2 years. So if you someone got hired at 19(almost impossible since it takes almost a year from application time until the hire date) and had 5 years on at the time that they actually gave a promotional test, they could maybe be a Sergeant by 25.(added more time since they also have to wait for a vacancy. If you don't finish at the top of the list it would be longer, if ever) Then you need time on as a Sgt to test for Lieutenant, and more time to test for Captain. So if everything fell into place perfectly with dates and you always finished at the top of the promotional list where you're competing with hundreds of others, you could maybe be captain by 30 or so. That's assuming everything goes perfectly.
But in the military you get TONS more training and experience while going through the ranks.

The issue in my area is more dangerous. I think you need to further disect this into where they are located, their call volume and type of average call responded to (structure, wildland, extrication, rescue) and the level of training they have received.
I see some in my area that are 18-20 years old, fresh out of Firefighter I training, with little if any real time experience fighting fires side by side with officers or experienced firefighters, and they run for office. THAT, in my eyes doesnt cut it.
The bottom line here, and I hope I do not offend anyone because this is just my opinion, you need to have BOTH training, and experience. At the young age of 23, in a department that does maybe 100 calls a year with the average of 4-5 structure fires...do they realy have enough experience to tell other firefighters what to do, in a split second, to save lives, while surrounded by other firefighters, law enforcement, EMS and screaming civilians wanting to see action to save their loved ones or their home???? It just does not seam possible to me. You need to have a certain level of training, than you need to support that training with valuable hands on real time experience, with the guidance of experienced fire officers or "First Whips" which is our senior firefighters, at real emergencies and see the tactics used and if they worked or failed, and if they failed you need to understand WHY they failed. Than you need to grow that experience further into what is called maturity. The officer can not be the one fighting other firefighters for the jump seat on calls while at the station, he/she needs to be the one calmly listening to the call and formulating the beginnings of a size-up. They need to sacrifice certain things for the good of their firefighters and their safety and well being like giving up TV time or hang out time with the crew to study, or read incident reports and draft SOP's and attend meetings.
I dont think that most people at that age can do this with no REAL experience, and having been a part of it for YEARS and witnessing it on a regular basis.
In my first department, on Long Island NY, you were not even thought of for officer until you were properly trained with both classroom training and hands-on training, followed by department training and reviews from the company officers, THAN you can be an interior firefighter. After years of responding to calls and drills, participating in meetings and fund raisers for the department and continuing your training for AT LEAST 10 years could you be considered for office.

Sorry for my rant, this is a sensitive subject for me, being in an area surrounded by young and inexperienced officers making bad decisions than blaming it on the fact they didnt know what they were doing makes me physically nauseas.

Maybe this guy, whom I dont know, has had a lot of fires under his belt and had many senior firefighters guiding him in the right path and he will make a great officer. But there is a line that needs to be drawn somewhere, and there needs to be guidelines and qualifications set in place before we choose someone who possibly may be called to make a decision that will save, or end your life or the life of a neighbor.
Just my thoughts and opinions though and not to be taken as insult.
Stay Safe.
I hear and support what you are saying if you apply the job description and duties to a Fire Captain in a municipal department but my impression is that we are dealing with very rural and sparsely populated jurisdictions. Call loads and complexity of the call types would presumably be limited compared to the responses seen by rural departments. Grant it this kid is young, but I've encountered some pretty mature 24 year olds before. Perhaps this kid was the exception. Cream does rise to the top... As far as the afformentioned 21 year old, we both agree that there is no way one could have the proper training and experience to lead an engine company.
I know that I probably would be best to keep quite about this bash against young captains like my self but I guess that's just not who I am. First this is a brotherhood. You should be congratulating you brothers on there success not bashing them or being so upset because it took you longer to get there than them or that they have achieved something that would make you there subordinate on a fire ground. Also I don't care if some just got past the rookie stage if they are more qualified training wise than the rest and they have showed that they will bust their a. S. S. I say promote. Them.
Nobody is bashing or upset. At least that I have seen.

They are all statements of fact.

It is debating the merits or lack thereof of a 24 YO captain depending on his training and\or experience.

I think this comment shows some of the reasoning behind WP's statement. You are getting defensive without a cause. If anything, it's constructive criticism, although I would be hard-pressed to even call it that. And if you don't have the maturity to accept constructive criticism or just listen to older\experienced posters, then that shows that there is a possibility you aren't old enough.

Again, not an attack, just facts and opionions based on your response to reasonable debate.

I know that I probably would be best to keep quite about this bash against young captains like my self but I guess that's just not who I am.

I actually missed this part. This says a lot.
I work for a very young department; our district has approximately 18 members including the Deputy Chief and Fire Chief. Four of the members are above 30 years of age. On the issue of young captains our senior captain is 26 years old. Out of six captains that are on the department the three senior captains are under the age of 30. It’s been my experience regardless of age that every captain will have issues. We recently had a captain get demoted for some personal conduct issues. With the demotion and the order of seniority we now have a captain that is 22 years old, He is a personal friend of mine and we both grew up with the fire department from our fathers who are both Fire Chiefs and have been for 20 years. I am 25 years old and have been in the department since I was 14 as a junior; I am next in line for a captain’s position at my full time department and a volunteer captain. I know many people look at juniors as useless but being a junior for 4 years gave me an experience that I would have never gotten as a firefighter. Being a junior gives you the chance to see the whole picture of the call, especially being next to senior officers who work with juniors on every emergency and training. One piece of advise I can give that was given to me is If you think you’re ready to be a captain and have the responsibility think of this emergency situation on which I pray never happens to you, You are the Captain in control of a structure fire and a firefighter is down, the structure is too far gone and you must make the decision to call off the search before you lose more members Can You Make That Decision. I think a young captain is a strong possibility with departments a lot of people mature differently and handle situations differently.
Personally, at age 21 or with only 2 years in the service, I wouldn't have even thought about applying for or accepting an officer's position. I don't even like having one now in all reality, but I was faced with somewhat the same thing. Guys with minimal experience applying for 2 open positions. I'm talking guys with 2-5 years in the service and on top of that only a handful of structure fires.

I have over 20 in and I don't think I have enough experience to do the job, but I thought long and hard about it and figured the good Lord would answer my thoughts by either giving me the position or not.

I don't have 1/10 the actual fire experience that many of these guys here have. And I hope I don't come across as a know-it-all because I am far from it. To put in Ben's words, I was\am "the best available". And I will admit it. But I will do my best, which I think is probably better than someone with 2 years in, unless it was a busy city. I wish I had time to do ride alongs wherever possible to gain more knowledge and experience.

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