Just looking for some opinions.....Do you think it is acceptable and safe for a firefighter who has been active for 3 years with just the state minimum Mandatory certification, 8 months as a certified Firefighter 1&2, and having never been inside a structure fire that was not training related...be a fire officer at the rank of LT? 

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In a word "No".  A first line officer is depended upon to make decisions that may make the difference is someones life, civilian or firefighter.  I think that experience is an excellent way to be confident in these decisions as well as learning from seasoned folks.  I understand that some departments are short of "qualified" people, and make no mistake, there is a difference between certified and qualified.  Don't sell yourselves short, put the best people in the positions where they belong.  An 8 month certified FF with no fires under his belt, is not company officer material.  Most career departments require much more time on the job to advance to Lieutenant. Putting this guy in the cab of a firetruck is setting him up for failure, not to mention the legal and ethical liabilities that could arise.

I don't believe so. But i have seen it done right around here. I was asked to be a line officer for 3 years before i took it. The reason was it is a big responsibility to be in charge of a bunch of guys inside a burning building. I knew i had all the classes our department requires and was more then capable but just was not sure i wanted the responsibility. I know i have over my 11 years in the department i have earned the respect of all our guys so i knew that wouldn't be a problem but i don't think a guy that has FF1 & 2 and only on a couple of years on the job: 1 Can make wise decisions under the stress of whats going on during the incident and  2 they most likely have not earned the respect of their follow FF if they don't respect you they sure as hell are not going to take orders from you. I think this is a headache in the making for the Chief down the road.

No way.  All he would know is the text book way of doing things.  Those with actual experience know that that way usually isn't the best way.  I hate textbook firefighters and don't think a person like this is fit to lead.  Three years is a big difference depending where you work though.  Some people may never see a fire in three years while others maybe have seen a ton.  I probably ran more calls in my first month as a DC fireman than I did in three years prior to that at a suburban department.

I have no idea what kind of department this guy is from. I have no idea of their call volume, or the overall training or experience level of the department. In short, I have no idea of the circumstances around his promotion and I have no idea of how he stacked up against the other candidates.

That being said, would he be my choice? No, but my combo department runs lots of calls and a descent volume of fire, and our officers do get a lot of experience as firefighters before being promoted, but maybe for this department he was the best choice and maybe even one of the most experienced, There are departments that run very few fires, and the sad fact is that many of their "experienced" personnel may only have a handful of fires, if that, under their belts efore being promoted. My VFD runs maybe 2 structure fires a year, including mutual aid, so even if a person is able to make "all" of our fires, his real world experience base is still very limited even after several years on the department.

This person may be in fact be the best person for the position even though he may have limited experience. He may have the temperament and decision-making skills that made him a better choice. he may have military, and especially combat experience, that made him the better prepared candidate. He may have a full-time job that prepared him better for the position than the other members. Again, I have no information regarding the call volume and training level of the department, so I'm not in a position to comment on if the selection of this person for this position was a good choice or a bad choice.

Safe?  I don't know his demeanor.  Is he a risk taker?  Indecisive?  Many factors to account for there.  Do his firefighters trust him and his leadership?  In our department, the LT is usually the inside commander.

After 38 years of this volunteer job, I still haven't done or seen it all and most likely never will.  Book smart doesn't always mean practical smart, and that has been echoed here.    In my small world, 5 to 7 years of active firefighting and drills, might get you consideration. 

Commanding a fire scene and the people involved, the act of planning 3 steps ahead and the experience, just isn't taught in the classroom. 

Like everyone else, no. This is no different than requiring Fire Instructor 1 in a fire science Associate degree program. The lack of experiance is setting the individual up for failure.   

NO!  not only is it unacceptable, but it's potentially FATAL.  there are examples all over the nation of "officers" that passed a written exam and have the rank, but have never had the experience needed to make decisions that could cost a firefighter his/her life.  if you ask around, i think you'll find that those young officers went to an incident and made either some really bad decisions or let a seasoned officer take command because they knew they had no knowledge of what needed to be done.  i also don't agree with someone who's passed an instructor exam teaching when they have no experience.  that will also one day cost someone big time.  this has been proven numerous times in places where they thought they had it under control with training and it ended up going bad and getting students hurt.

Have to give credit to the Brother for wanting to step up, however someone who's on the job 3 years, seen zero fire duty and wants to be even a junior boss is a recipe for disaster. I dont know how many runs this FD turns out for and of that how many are working fires but it doesnt appear they catch a lot of work. It therefore becomes even more important to have an experienced member in that front seat who has the ability to make those critical decisions on arrival especially if its blowing out a few windows and all hells breaking lose. Probie school, live burns in a controlled environment are great but there is no substitute on this job for experience.

In 1988 we established Minimum Training Standards In Montgomery County MD for every rank it has been tweeked and adjusted ever since but it required minimum training and time in grade in order to move up in the ranks. I moved in the 1990's and where I live now it in Delaware there is really no rhyme or reason to how they promote it is easier to say he we are the best of buddies....

Good question Brandon.  And hello to you, long time no see.  I know Brandon; him and his lovely wife were students of mine a few yrs ago  (tell your wife I said hello too).  As with almost all the other replies, I agree that the answer is NO. NO. And NO.  That being said, I have to ask Why the person in question IS an officer (or being considered for the position).  I am assuming you are talking about a volunteer FD in this example and not a full-time dept.  If not, we have other problems.  Is he the only one that stepped up and no one else wants the job?  Is it possible that he is truely the best qualified of those that did step up?  Or as one of the other replies mentioned, is the job given to the guy that gets the most of his buddies to vote for him?  None of these are good positions to be in.  If its the 1st or 2nd, then the problem is not that of LT; its a problem of not having enough (any) qualified people available.  Low volume of working fires, family time, jobs, increased training requirements, high turn-over of volunteers or lack of volunteers, fear of being in charge or being responsible, fear of lawsuits.  All can keep FF's from gaining experience and stepping up to becoming an officer.  Training and experience will help, in time, but until then, the FD can't just say...." I hope we don't have any fires because we don't have enough qualified officers....."  they may have no other option than to make this guy an LT (still not a good choice)  If the reason this person is an LT is because his buddies voted him in - that is worse.  But easiest fixed.  During the election of a volunteer President, or board, let everyone vote for their buddy, why not.  But, if it's a position where decision making has REAL consequences, all involved should expect and demand that those put in the position to do that are capable.  You can bet the taxpayers, victims, lawyers and families (surviors) of other firefighters will expect and demand that too.  Also, its the right thing to do.


The simple fact is this guy very well be one of the most trained members on his department and could very easily be on of the most experienced ... even with only 3 years in. I know of many rural departments where a 3 year man could very easily be a seasoned veteran and likely may have far more training than the 10 or 15-year members..

I know of at least one rural department where the Chief and Asst. Chief have a combined 7 years of experience, and they are the best suited for the jobs.

It's also quite possible that the older members may not want to be officers, or have already been officers and have stepped aside, or are already the senior officer positions. In addition, the remaining older members may not want to be a position which likely requires combat firefighting as compared to support functions.

Would it be better to have a 10-year man with a whole bunch of fires under his belt in this spot? Sure, and I'm not going to dispute that, but in a lot of rural departments, if that is the situation here, that simply isn't an option as often the senior members do not want combat positions or have served their time in those roles and are now more than happy to perform support type functions.

Honestly I could care less if he has a few more training classes or a degree in fire science.  Training is nothing compared to real world experience.  I had plenty of classes including a fire degree prior to being hired by my current department.  Some of it helped but wouldn't have prepared me nearly enough to be in charge of a crew.  It actually wasn't even enough to be just a firefighter since they make everyone go through their own academy in large cities.  Those classes barely prepared me for anything that I would see on the fire ground.

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