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Four Simple Rules for the Company Officer

I talk a great deal about the role of the company officers and how they influence the members of your department.  When teaching officer development we hit hard on setting and establishing expectations and ensuring that there is follow-through with those expectations.  I was recently asked about expectations for my company officers.  They aren't too different from what I expected from my crew members when I was a company officer.

When I sit down with my crew and officers, I have a list of items that vary from small reminders to issues that need to be changed, so to offer a list of my specific expectations is difficult because they are specific to my organization, my crew and my officers.  I did come up with four non-negotiable rules that apply to all members, but I depend on my officers to demonstrate on a regular basis.  These four rules have many related examples of how to accomplish them.
Feel free to use and add your own twists to the Four Rules for Company Officers.
Rule 1:  Be Generous.
  This applies to all facets and situations while on duty and is encouraged when off duty.  Be generous with the community by attending events voluntarily, stop and hand out stickers or just check on kids in the neighborhood.  I liked to stop at the local ice cream stand in the summer and visit with the families getting a treat.  You can even, on occasion, pick up the tab.  Be generous with your knowledge and experiences.  Don't be stingy with what you know, don't wait to be asked, give it freely and frequently.  As the officer, be generous with helping your members and community whenever you can, whatever that may be.  Finally, help when it's not expected.  Maybe it's giving a person broke down a few bucks for gas or a cab.  Be generous!
Rule 2: Be Constructive.
    Being constructive is a must for all members, but especially so for the company officer.  This is how the officer develops his crew members.  The officer will no doubt have times when members make mistakes and the officer needs to understand how to make those learning experiences and to change the behavior. Demeaning and negative responses should not be the first choice of responses.  Don't confuse being constructive with discipline for habitual, negligent and insubordination.  Being constructive is seeing or noticing that your firefighter is struggling with pulling the static line.  Instead of yelling and screaming, drill and train to make the improvement.  This is a rule that requires the officer to understand the his crew is a direct reflection of the his crew.
Rule 3: Be Productive.
    This is what makes the crew go!  I don't believe in busy work and don't assign it.  But, I do expect that my officers stay productive at all times and it's as simple as getting done what needs to get done when it needs to be done.  I explain it like this: we would never walk past a kink on the fire ground because it could have a direct impact on the success of the crews on the inside.  The firehouse and training ground is no different.  Don't walk past kinks in your daily like and routine.  It doesn't matter who left it at that moment, you found it and now it's yours.  It sets the tone for the crew and its members and actually had become a source of pride with some crews.
Rule 4: Be Aggressive!
    Yes, I said be aggressive!  I expect my crews and officers to be aggressive on the fire ground.  I expect them to use their experience, knowledge and training to aggressively attack all incidents that they respond to.  This includes making interior fire attacks, searching without a hose line if dictated and performing VES when indicated. It also means that they need use patience and decision making to not be reckless. I also expect them to aggressively check smoke detectors and CO detectors on medical and service calls.  I expect them to aggressively take actions on their own to make a difference in our community.  I want them thinking and taking action at all times to solve the problems of our citizens and our members.
I hope you find these useful and thanks for reading.

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Comment by Nick Morgan on March 19, 2015 at 12:59pm

Great article Jason!!

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