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Question - Who in the fire service do you think would benefit the most from a leadership training program, company officers, field chief officers, or staff officers?
Question - Which of the above listed officers would be able to contribute the most to the leadership development of their department if they received leadership training?

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Replies to This Discussion

Dave,
I agree! Although Leadership training is a plus for everyone, I believe that company officers can make the best use of the skills with both the firefighters they work with and the chiefs. Additionally, firefighters will begin to learn and practice these same leadership skills simply from working with and observing their company officer.
I think company Officers would benefit the most from leadership training. They are in the position to immediately impact the leadership skills of the firefighters under their command. They have more day to day contact, generally, with the troops than chief or staff officers. By putting the tools in the hands of the company officers, they will lead better, and their example will be of the utmost importance to the firefighters they lead every shift or in the volunteer side, every call.

For the second question, I have to stay with company officers. In turn, however, company officers should be playing close attention to their chiefs. The company officers are the future chiefs. We all should be watching each other for the good and the bad.

Chris Mc Loone
I would have to agree, it is the Company Officer. It is at the company level that "the rubber meets the road." (I guess I agree with LeBlanc, I wrote this before I read his reply) Preparation of the individaul, by the department and throught self-study, must begin before the promotion. You must also identify the different aspects of leadership in the fire department:
1. Fire ground / emergency incident tactical decision making.
2. Training.
3. Safety. (CO's not wearing PPE is a gripe of mine)
4. Administrative functions.

The list could be endless. A CO with leadership qualities can work within all of the listed environments. We all have our areas in which we shine, and some that need work. Identifying future leaders will be a task that we will constantly need to focus on. Great Topic.
I agree with the company officer. Mainly because I have had the good and the bad leaders. It is such a waste to have leaders that offer no leadership.
Who is the firefighter with everyday and is impacted by the most by? The company officer. BC's and staff officers interact also with the troops but not to the degree as a company officer that I do. Now let me also say that staff and field officers also would benefit from leadership training also. For your second question everyone looks to the top of the chain of command for leadership and the direction of the department. From there it filters down thru the ranks to the newest probie on the job. We need to remember we all are training the people below us to take our spot as we move up. So maybe we need to add to this the senior firefighter of the comapny/shift/house to discussion also.
Scott I very much agree with what you wrote about including your senior firefighters. I would like to propose a step further to include your best members.

Lately I have been operating under the guise of "looking for my replacement". This has afforded me a fresh look at our individual FF motivation, drive and talent we currently have on our department. I have also come to believe that we should only "teach to our best". This sounds disinviting, but in reality you won't waste your time on the members who only want to "be on the department" and you won't waste the time of your better members who want to "be the department".

What do you think?
Great questions Chief,

For the first question I would have to say that each would benefit equally but the firefighter of these officers would benefit the most. Leadership training is critical to each group of officers, for different reasons.

Leadership training is most critical for company officers simply because they interact with such a diverse group, including citizens, their firefighters, field chief officers, and staff officers (at times). Company officers interact with citizens on calls, public education events and public inquiries and complaints. Company officers must understand their firefighters including such things as their personal and fire service development aspirations, technical strengths and weaknesses and finally the different learning styles and personalities of these men and women. Company officers must be able to relate to the bigger picture above them within the organization; this includes field and staff chief officers. They must be able to communicate with their direct report (usually a battalion chief) and understand how their company fits into the bigger picture. Often times company officers may be involved with special teams budgets and other administrative functions. This requires additional skill sets.

Leadership training programs are critical for all officers in emergency services. Company officers are the pivotal link that connects the interactions we face daily in the fire service.
That's a good question Chief. The officers have to be trained in sound leadership principles. If we fail at the company level we are destined to look like idiots on the scene. On the other hand, if the officers are having to spend a large portion of their time keeping the chief's dumb rules the importance of leadership is relegated to "be-no's" and b*******. Chief's have know how to lead the leaders.

So what is "most important?" Depends on the department. If there is good leadership from the top with a clear set of values and direction, then officer development should be paramount. If the department is stuck in the quagmire of irrelevance, then the chief's needs to be refocused. It starts from the top and works it's way down.
Chief,

Good question.

The leadership preperation in my department is you study a bunch of books and take the civil service test. Get the highest score and get promoted. They hand you a badge and remind you to sit on the right side from now on. Good luck!

While everyone benefits from consistant quality training, leadership preperation and training should begin before the first promotion.

The first jump from firefighter to company officer is huge. You now take on the responsibility for others as well as yourself. It is not just a title and a pay raise. Company officers set the tone for how things are going to go. They prepare the firefighters for the tasks at hand, give credit to them when things go right and take responsibility when the don't. At least that is how it is suppose to work.

If we don't begin to prepare our future leaders well in advance, how can we expect them to lead effectively? Promote a bum to Lieutenant and they are likely to be a bum Captain, Deputy and Chief. Promote a competent, qualified and willing leader to Lieutenant and they will lead.
Chief this is an awesome question. I agree with those that says it should start at the top. They should be the ones setting the bar for the officers below them. If they get stagnet it will trickle down. I believe the Chief needs to set the example and then help others to not only achieve being a great leader but to teach them how to show others.
Good question.

I feel that sound leadership training needs to start for the beginning of a firefighters carrer so that they may carry that knowledge throughout thier carrer. This approach in my opinion would benifit the department and the citizens the most. Of those positions you listed I would start with the company officer. Without a strong company officer nothing will preform smoothly.

As for my department we merely take a promotional exam and the top scoring canidates get promoted. No interview process, tactical simulation, ect. If some of these officers would have had some leadership training prior to their promotion I feel that the entire department would benifit.
Leadership development should begin with "followership" training at the recruit level. Good followers will become better leaders. For me, leadership challenges have increased at every level; moving from leading people to leading teams. I agree, the company officer is in the best position to grow other leaders. But, the CO's success requires lots of support, from all directions.

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