I've been tasked with developing a chief officer development program. Or a Battalion Chief 101 / Shift Commander 101 program. I'm unaware of other departments that do this, or even those that do it well, does anyone have any ideas or directions I could look into? There's obviously the logistical stuff but what are other departments doing? I'd love any help. 

Micah Holmes

Fire Training Lieutentant

Longmont Fire Dept. 


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I don't understand how a person with your lack of rank and experience would be tasked with this. Please don't misconstrue this as a personal attack on you or your abilities; I assure you it is not. Clearly, your superiors hold you in high esteem. I just don't think it's fair to you, the potential chiefs, other members of the department or the public. An effective fire chief's course is not something you slap together from stuff you find on the internet or by reading some books and/or magazine articles.

I assume your department has a chief or chiefs currently serving. They should be the ones developing the course, possibly along with some of the chiefs who are no longer active. Their local experience and knowledge is invaluable for something like this. It must be incorporated and should form the basic framework for the course. Of course, outside knowledge and information should be sought but it should evaluated through their prism, not yours.

  Well said John.

To respectfully add to what John already said, you also only have 6 years in the fire service, in my old department thats not even enough to be a lieutenant yet let alone be tasked with developing a chief's development program.  I sincerely urge you to return this to your chief's and tell them you dont have the experience to do this alone.  If a chief officer assists you with this, or even an older member, maybe a past chief, then I can see this as a good opportunity for you to learn from them in the process.

This program should be developed by a current or past chief officer so it is clearly defined as to what is needed to be a chief based on years of experience from being a chief.

Best of luck to you in this.

Please  view my response to all three of you below.

Please view my response to all three of you below.

Thank you three for being respectful about the question. I've clearly NOT explained the situation well enough. My experience, or how I am able to be the Training Lieutenant after 6 years, is not relevant to this discussion so I'm curious how that even came up. I am certainly NOT the only one working on this project. I am NOT alone and I am NOT even the decider of what will be in the program or not. There is a command staff full of battalion chiefs and deputy chiefs that will make the final decisions. I'm only responsible for compiling ideas, seeing what's out there to learn from, maybe even bring back some resources, or contacts that have been through this process already. So... I am only asking for what is out there, places we (my whole department) can learn from. I'm a little disappointed that this discussion as become about what my department should or should not give me to work on, and not about my original question which is, where can my department learn from those who have gone before us. Thank you again for your concerns about my experience level but rest assured I am only looking for contacts from which we can learn from, not to develop the program by myself. My apologies for the mistake.

 Have you contacted Denver or the Colorado Springs fire depts.? I am sure they must have some type of program you can look over?

My comment was not an insult against you, I was answering the question.  You shouldnt take it personally...Its very obvious why the discussion focused on the amount of experience you have and how that can affect your project; to be a chief in the fire service you need years of experience and training of all types of emergency calls and responses.  Six years isnt enough.

Have you tried contacting your local fire chiefs association for advice?  They might even have samples of what you are looking for already drafted up that your department can personalise to your needs and use.  It could cut a lot of leg work out of it for you guys.

If you send me a PM with your email address, I have a copy of my states "Fire Chiefs Reference Guide" that has standards for minimum qualifications for firefighters and officers, training standards, responses to emergencies, communications, fire prevention and tons of other useful information.  I had to purchase it but i could send you a PDF Copy of it if you like?

Let me know.

Stay Safe

Micah, congratulations on being a 6 year Lt. Also I took the comments about your youth and experience the same way they were written. Here in my dept. we don't have a BC development program. We give a test and promote from that. Experience has nothing to do with the promotions at all. I have opted not to participate in the process and from my experience you can put anyone in that position and make them a chief. The difference is the leaders on your job, Experience is acquired when your dept. has events that you can garner experience from. It may be that your best leader won't make a good chief. Good luck.

The first step in developing chief officers is developing your company officers. On our website hendersonfireonline.com you will most likely find everything you are looking for. I believe that we have one of the best fire department website in the country. Yes, it's that good and years of work have been put into it. That said, use the information and form it to what your department needs. Good luck.

Bill I would agree with you on this one.  It starts at the company officer level to develop Chief's.


Micah - Fire Departments with a good company officer program usually have good candidates for Chief Officer. The departments who have less than stellar officers across the board usually have a poor  mentoring or no officer development program in place. Line experience establishes the knowledge base for the operations side of what needs to be done for mitigation. Most departments focus on a command and control module for new Chief's and what needs to be done adminstratively.  The downfall with less emergencies is the amount of command experience, the new officer has less field experience as a subordinate or junior officer, so the command training must be supplemented with good quality training simulations.


Now in my opinion, the biggest short coming in developing good leaders is not providing them with an education on interpersonal dynamics. The actual process of how to deal with people. We are in the people business.  You see on day one even before the bell rings they need to deal with all kinds of people... the good, the bad and the ugly issues.  If you look at the types of incidents for which line officers or chief officers get in trouble from, they usually don't happen in the field.  That is why when I provide an officer development program for a department, we do things to prepare the new officer or chief officer with people skills. Classes like Interpersonal Dynamics, Personality based Effective Communications, Conflict Resolution, Dealing with Negativity (understanding compensating behaviors)  Department Rules, Policies and Procedures (adminstrative stuff)  HR stuff like Harrassment Prevention / Fire Law,  then the field review like Incident Command / Control of Multiple Alarm Fires and ending with Mayday Management for Incident Command - Strategic Considerations.

Love to talk more on the matter, best of luck to you.

Bill (FETC)   

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