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Who do you allow to be Incident Commanders at fires and other incidents?
· Are there training/education requirements for your Incident Commanders?
· Are there requirements for your Division/Group Supervisors, Branch Managers etc?
· How about Safety Officers?

When a higher-ranking Chief arrives, does he/she take over command? What if they are an administrative or staff Chief?

For the small/mid-size departments……when a mutual aid Chief responds to your fires and other incidents, is it the Fire Chief of another department? Or… Battalion/District Chiefs respond?

The point is…….Who do we (the greater fire service) want to have responding as Chief Officers on our multiple alarm fires and other large or complex incidents? Do we want to continue with Fire Chiefs, Staff Chiefs that may or may not (most likely not) remain current with training, incident management.. and so on and so on…….OR…….do we want to move away from politics and egos and do what is right and ask for and send Battalion/District Chiefs or Operational Deputy Chiefs (add your own appropriate title)?

Does it make sense to have the most qualified person or the highest ranking person respond and assign them to critical operational positions such as Safety, RIT Chief, Division/Group Supervisors etc….?

What are your thoughts, please include some background on your department and area environment (urban, suburban, rural).

Thanks in advance,


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Henrico County Division of Fire (Virginia) is located just outside the captial city of Richmond Virginia. It utilizes 20 engines, 5 truck, 3 squad/rescues, and 13 Ambulances. We respond to aprox 35,000 calls for service a year and have aprox 500 uniformed employees. We have an extremley diverse county with the west end being mostly residential the north being mostly low income housing and industrial occupancies, and the east being rural and un developed.

Our SOG's state that the first arriving member of the DOF (Division of Fire) must establish the Incident Management System on all incidents until relived by a higher ranking officer or appropriate resource. All of our firefighters (1st day rookie to 30 year chief) are trained in IMS and on how to at minimum give an accurate scene size up and properly establish the command function.

In order to be an acting officer you must complete a written test, and 30 day precepting program as well as have 4 years on the dept. Unfortunatly this is a career development step as well and your readiness to go up to this step is based on a points system. You could have a degree in basket weaving and 4 years on pass the test and get through the precepting process and TA DA you can not act in charge of a fire engine (I think this is ridiculous).

We have now formed a fire college committe in order to adress the officer development problem. The goal is to create an officer academy giving you the neccessary certifications and proper precepting experience in order to properly perform your job functions. This will be completed at all offcier levels (if you are going from LT to Capt. you will sit through the Captain Portion of the academy).

Thanks for your reply.

There are flaws in many acitng officer programs. However, once you guys find common ground on the educational aspect I like the idea of testing and supervised precepting of candidates for acting positions. Additionally, I agree with a time requirement. It takes several years to gain the necessary training, experience and maturity in this job to act in a critical officer position. I am working on a three phase acting officer mentoring program, it sounds like what you are doing. Would you mind responding back with some general idea of topics covered during the precepting experience for the benefit of other who may read thie thread?

Thanks again,


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