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In today’s short-staffed and under funded fire service the demands and responsibilities of our members are many. As responsibilities go the Company Officer is the backbone of most incident operations.


The end result of any operation relies heavily on the performance of the crews operating on that incident.  Assuring proficient execution of the plays from the company playbook, or policies and procedures, is one of the Company Officers most important responsibilities.


Fire service wide the Company Officer is required to fill this immense responsibility on Engine, Truck, and Rescue Companies. They are there to lead their team into battle, directing the men/women to ensure effective strategies are utilized to overcome the obstacles presented. They are there to watch over their companies safety and when necessary become a part of the team in order to complete the task at hand.


Our goal has been to GROW and mature "front seat riders" into Company Officers, which bestows just as much, if not more responsibility as a Chief Officer.


Sure...Chief Officers have an incredible amount of responsibility on the incident, as they are ultimately responsible for the end result. But in the end it is the Company Officer who must truly become the eyes, ears and sixth sense of any operation.


The STRONG Link, which holds the ‘chain’ or company together, is the well-versed Company Officer. They are that person who will lead the team down that hot dark hallway, searching for victims and fire, keeping contact with all crewmembers to ensure everyone is safeguarded from the unseen sneak attack.


FIRST ARRIVING - Company Officer


Trust and respect are earned by the Company Officer and in order to do so they must work hard at it. It isn’t supposed to occur overnight and the issuing of a shiny white front piece doesn’t take the place of that hard work.


The process starts in quarters, before any alarm, as the Company Officer conducts themselves in station details and management of the company. It continues on the training ground as the Company Officer teaches by first demonstrating the correct way to perform any particular task and then mentoring members to an acceptable performance.


How the Company Officer conducts oneself at the time of dispatch will dictate the tone of the company’s initial actions until you all arrive on scene of that incident.


Knowing your job responsibilities through experience, training, and education and “acting like you’ve done it a thousand times before” will assure the team that they can follow you when seconds count.


Let's take a look at a few important responsibilities you must be proficient in to be an effective Company Officer:


  • Knowing your box cards (who is on the initial, where are your special resources coming from and having the ability to request additional resources when needed.)Being capable of delivery of an accurate and thorough Brief Incident Report (BIR)

  • Knowing your area (alleys, good and bad hydrants and any additional water supplies, utility hazards, set-backs and limitations)

  • Knowing your policies and procedures (policies are established and you see them through and having the flexibility to modify when conditions dictate it)

  • Ability to read smoke (color, velocity, force and predict what will occur in 5, 10 or 15 minutes)

  • Understanding your apparatus capabilities (scrub area for aerials, delivery of full capacity of engine companies. Knowledge of weight for bridges, height, etc.)

  • Being capable of assuring your First In company can go to work while you conduct a 360-degree survey and be ready to make the push with them.

  • Knowledge of equipment carried (ladders, saws, fans, hydraulic tools, extending and building attack lines and find secondary water when needed.)

  • Knowing your company’s strengths and weakness’s. Knowing what they can and cannot accomplish.


Without adequate knowledge of the responsibilities required to be an effective Company Officer you can potentially contribute to a failure of operational readiness.

When the Strong Link becomes the Weakest Link the chain or company will suffer in the ability to complete their task. The company may incur injuries or even much worse the ultimate sacrifice.

  • Taking liberty to modify the definition of the ROCKWELL HARDNESS (Strength) TEST … “Strength is a characteristic of the Company Officer, not a fundamental physical property.”  Be that Strongest Link!


~Jeremy Rebok & Michael Horst~

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