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I am looking for some good books or even some good information that anyone has that they can pass onto me. I just became the new LT this year at my department. I am 21 years old and one of the youngest guys on the department. I have taken many classes and I'm a very knowledgeable person when it comes to the job but I am always looking for new training Ideas and I am always up for learning something new. I do not know everything nor will I ever everyday is a training day as you can always learn something new. I am just looking for everyone’s input as to what I can do as a new officer to gain the trust of those who are still not sure about me and how I can work to become a better officer.

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Hi David - I'm not going to suggest that you buy every book in the Firefighters Bookstore - but I will tell you that I have a lot of good material on leadership and company officer training. From my personal experience of running a small business for 27 years (a small business and a fire company have a lot more in common than you might first think), I have found that my best leadership skill is to be as willing as the next person to get my hands and clothes dirty - I do it all, from writing checks to mopping floors. I also never miss an opportunity to turn an error into a training session rather than an a** chewing session. I'm quick with public praise, and I'm private with anything that needs improvement. I also take lots of opportunities to listen to my staff, solicit their feedback, explain things that puzzle them, while still maintaining that fine line between friendship and leadership. Yes, I'm friendly towards them, and I respect and value them, but I'm still the boss and they have to do it my way until (or if) we figure out something better. I try to mix up the rewards, too. Sometimes I buy ice cream, other times it's cookies, other times it's a small paycheck bonus for goals that have been met. I've got a good bunch, and I like to think that it's a combo of me valuing them and them valuing me. Works both ways.
Hi David. Like you I became a Officer at young age also. My advice to you would be to earn respect rather than demand it. A lot of officers when they recieve a promotion demand respect. In my experiences that has never worked out so well. Sometimes because of your age people think that you are not capable of handling difficult situations. You have to show them that you are a capable officer. You can do this by leading by example and having a command presence while operating on incidents. I have found that when you have the trust of your people you also have their respect. To get others to trust, you have to show them that you are capable of handling different situations. Learn all you can and keep training. This will help you in making good decisions on incidents. After you have made a couple of incidents and show that you are capable of handling yourself your people will trust you and will do anything you ask of them. Don't be afraid of making a mistake and admit it when you do. This too shows not only that you are human but it will also again build that trust factor. Learn from your mistakes so you don't repeat them.
The one book that I would suggest that you read would be John Salka's "First in Last Out". This is an excellent book about leadership. Also, I'm sure you have been around officers that you have liked and some that you didn't. Think about what you liked about them and what you didn't and apply those things to make yourself a better officer. I hope these suggestions helped. Congrats on your new promotion and good luck.
Thanks, I am really not trying to demand respect from the other it is more that I am trying to gain it through some of the things that you have described. As you proably know starting off as a young officer all eyes are on you. I'm going to continue my training as that is the most important thing I can do to first keep up with oir ever changing job and to help me become a better officer. Thanks for the book idea and also for saying to praise in public and punish in private. That is somthing i am working on doing. Somtimes when things don't get done or are done improperly somtimes have a habit of saying somthing on the scene when it should wait till we are out of the public and behing closed doors. I have been doind much better with this though and on the past couple of calls be able to handle things off to the side and out of everyone elses eyes. Thanks agian for the help and I will just take these suggestions and work with them to better myself where needed.
For starters, you can gain their trust with small and early wins. What i mean by that is everyday you will be given the opportunity to make decisions that will have your crew members think they can count on you. Let them know that you are always available and that you ultimately work for them, not the other way around. Without your crew you are nothing. Make your crew members aware that they are the most important thing to you, physically and mentally as well. Talk as often as you can about non-f ire service issues to see what is important to them and that will benefit both of you. Take care and be safe.
I also was in your boat, I was promoted very young and was looking for ways to gain trust and respect from my crew. I took all the classes, read all the books, but nothing is better than experience. It will take some time, but like Scott said everyday let your crew see that you can make a decision, tough or easy. No one wants an officer that can not make a decision. Eventually you will get some type of call that you will need to perform a task with your crew or make a critical decision. Only then will they see that you can do the job. One call will turn into two and so one. When they see your performance on the emergency scene and that you can make a decision, and will not get them hurt, then you will eventually gain their trust. It takes time and remember lead by example.
Also some good books on leadership are Chief John Salka's "First in Last Out” and one of my favorites is by a Navy Captain D. Michael Abrashoff “It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy”
Good Luck
As a young officer, the first bit of advice I can give you is to know who is around you who you can take "suggestions" from. As an officer, when time is of the essence, you have to make the call, and the men have to follow. They should, afterall, they put you there. However, more often than not, there is at least a few seconds to ponder what needs to be done. There's nothing wrong with seeking input from older and more experienced members in times like these.
As far as books to read, my suggestion is to always be reading one. I think the best book to start with as a company officer is John Norman's Fire Officers Handbook of Tactics. Also a good read is Responding to Routine Emergencies by Frank Montagna. I feel that those two books are a great place to start because they have the nuts and bolts of firefighting and cover most situations you will find yourself in. Beyond that, start looking into the strategy and incident management oriented books. Fireground Strategies by Anthony Avillo, Fireground Size-Up by Michael Terpak, and Fire Command by Alan Brunacinni are a few I recommend. The list goes on and includes Fireground Safety by Vincent Dunn and Random Thoughts by Tom Brennan. Many more.
Keep reading, keep training, and keep talking with members of your department and the fire service in general. It's important to constantly keep your head in the game, especially if you aren't seeing a lot of fire in your department.

Stay Safe,

David, Before being promoted I wanted to know what my boss expected of me. I believe that the best thing a new officer can do is to set expectations for his or her crew. A new officer has many challenges to face from the new position, I found that by informing my crew about my expectations I wasn't in a position of playing catch up when a crewmember did something I didnt care for. I found that any of the books listed above where worthwhile to read. Congrats on your new Job


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