It's the age old debate in the fire service of training vs. experiance. Is the older, more experianced firefighter with less training a better suit for a company officer than the highly trained, moderately experianced younger firefighter. I am currently facing this issue myself.
I joined the local fire department when I was 16 years old as a junior, acquiring my Firefigter 1 training around the time I turned 18 and became a front line firefighter. I am now 20 years old and currently hold my Level 1 and Level 2 firefighting, vehicle extrication, managing company tactical operations, ICS-100, Incident Safety Officer, Haz-Mat Ops, Traffic Management Guidelines, and Medical First Responder. I also have now been appointed at 1 of my departments 3 training officers as well as the strong possibility of becoming a Lieutenant on the 2nd due Engine company.
My main concern is that I will not be taken seriously with these roles by the older memebers of the department who although they do not have as much training as myself, have more experiance and more calls under their belt. Is it right for them to not take me seriously, or for myself to even hold such positions? How can I portray myself as knowledgable to an older group of firefighters who may not nessicarily agree or want to abide by new firefighting and rescue techniques? Is there anyone else who has faced or is facing the same issue?

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Comment by John Staley on April 22, 2013 at 7:00pm

Jared, yes I have been in your shoes on more than one occasion in my career. Remember it is not a competition to see who is right. Notice I didn't say who is smarter. Respect for your position will be earned as you demonstrate your passion for the position and your concern for those you educate (as a training officer) and those you supervise (as a company officer). If someone appointed you to the position then you deserve it, what you do from that point forward will determine whether you are successful. You will always have detractors (some because they have fears about your qualifications, experience or lack thereof, others because they realize you are now in a position of authority and they have to respect the rank, and they fear that they can't express themselves to you as they have in the past. Confidence manifests itself in many ways, start by letting the more experienced people on your department know you will be relying on them to help you make wise decisions (as a company officer) and depending upon them to help train others on the department by providing experiential input to some of your training evolutions. Remember your appointment wasn't to make you a better employee but to make the department better by taking advantage of your skills and having you use them for the benefit of the department and the community you serve. Good Luck!

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