ADVICE TO OFFICERS

A newly promoted company officer faces one of the most difficult transitions in the fire service. As a new officer, you are no longer “one of the guys.” You now represent management as well as your crew. That’s sometimes a fine line to walk.

My advice for any newly promoted officer is to be an officer. The minute they put “the bars” on you, your role in the service changes. You have just become a leader, and you have to act like a leader. That doesn’t mean you have to become a jerk! That means you are responsible for not only your actions but also the actions of your crew. The “you” as a firefighter no longer exists; the “you” as an officer has just been born.

And remember, your two hands are the last two hands I would expect to see on the nozzle, on the grip of a chain saw, or sweeping under a bed or in a closet conducting a search. Your job is to focus on the entire fire attack-ventilation effort or search-whatever you were assigned. Your job is to know where the crew has been, what they currently are doing, and what they will do next. I don’t believe you can focus on that if you’re directing a hose stream, cutting a hole, or sweeping a corner of a bedroom. If you want the nozzle, give the bars back.

John “Skip” Coleman, deputy chief of fire prevention, Toledo (OH) Department of Fire and Rescue, is author of Incident Management for the Street-Smart Fire Officer (Fire Engineering, 1997) and Managing Major Fires (Fire Engineering, 2000), a technical editor of Fire Engineering, and a member of the FDIC Educational Advisory Board.

Question: What advice would you give a newly promoted company officer?

Rick Lasky, chief, Lewisville (TX) Fire Department

Response: Taking that step into “company officerhood” is a big one, to say the least. It takes hard work, preparation, and some good mentors to get you going in the right direction. Unfortunately, if you don’t prepare, you’re going to be in for a hard trip, or fall, at least initially.

A lot of people out there have a lot of advice for just about anyone who will listen-some of it is good; some of it is nonsense. Much of the good stuff needs to come from people who have done fairly well and who at times have struggled through some problems and had to work at solutions and fixes-people who know what it’s like on both sides of the fence. As far as advice is concerned, probably the most important point to make and pass on is that you now have a direct impact on what goes on with the guys who work for and with you.

When you look at most of the line-of-duty deaths, and after you get through the contributing factors, you can’t help but acknowledge the fact that some of it relates to the leadership, or lack of it, of the company officer. Fire Department of New York (FDNY) Battalion Chief Don Hayden has said for years, “Don’t blame the crew; don’t get on them. It’s not their fault when it comes down to it. It’s the company officer, their leader. He or she is the one who has to shoulder the responsibility of taking care of and managing the crew.” He always said when you hear a company referred to as a “dog” company, don’t look at the guys, look at the officer first, and, most often, there lies the answer and root of the problem.

So when it comes down to it, often the safety of your crew comes down to what type of a leader you are or what kind of an example you set. It all starts back at the firehouse. So focus a lot of attention on building those leadership skills and those skills that are going to work for you in the firehouse with your people.

Work on a good attitude; it’s catching. Ask your boss what is expected from you as a company officer, and then take the time to explain what your expectations are of your crews. Be reasonable and realistic. Again, lead by example. Remember, they’re watching everything you do, so do the right thing. And that doesn’t mean do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Train hard, because it really does matter. Seek out good mentors, and be one for someone else. Treat others as you would like to be treated and how you liked being treated when you were a line firefighter. Practice, preach, and promote safety. Remember, the crews are yours now. Now, you really can control the gossip, rumor, and character assassination mill. Continue to market your department and our profession the same as you did as a firefighter.

Remember, it takes courage to lead. Make the right choices and decisions. They may not be the most popular at the time, but go with what’s right and honest. Integrity is where it all starts. Don’t compromise it for anyone! And never stop learning or ever be afraid to ask questions.

Nobody knows it all. Know-it-alls and perfect people in our business get people hurt and killed. It really is your time to make a difference. Learn to read your people like you read smoke at a fire. Be the officer you always wanted to work for.

Thomas Dunne, deputy chief, Fire Department of New York

Response: Nobody is “born” an officer. Becoming one is a gradual process that requires developing a number of skills and adapting to unfamiliar challenges.

A new officer is dealing with two major changes. First, there are the job changes. I tell a newly promoted individual that he is now primarily a safety officer and communications specialist and that he is directly responsible for the well-being of a number of firefighters. He is also the chief’s “eyes” on the fireground and must be able to accurately communicate vital information to him.

Then there are the social changes. An effective leader should be liked and respected. However, you are no longer just “one of the boys.” There are times when you will have to say “no” to your subordinates. That may take some getting used to.

This is a very different role than the one you had as a firefighter. If you find yourself immediately comfortable with the position, you probably are not doing the job very well. I loved being a company officer, but I clearly remember how awkward I felt in that role when I was first promoted 18 years ago.

Give it time. As you gather experience, learn from your mistakes (you definitely will make some). Remember that there is no instant promotion to the position of “leader” in the fire service. That is a role you must earn and grow into.

Keith D. Smith, chief, Westfield (IN) Fire Department

Response: The new officer’s easiest role involves fireground duties and responsibilities. That should come naturally, so use your experience, background, and training for guidance, and never treat the incident as routine. Your crew expects you to take charge and give directions.

On the other hand, the in-station and the personnel supervision role is not as easy or recognizable. The relationship with your crew(s) may require changes in leadership style and, certainly, adaptability. Here is where understanding human nature will help. Trust your instincts of character, trust people, and set the example. Patience and common sense apply to people issues, too. You will have to learn when to be a boss and when to be just another firefighter or a friend. It is easy to be overbearing, but don’t be. Remember the lessons learned from your background with good officers and, more importantly, those learned from your history with bad officers. Bad officers are visible; as a rule, the good officers are subtle. Your responsibilities changed, but your personality shouldn’t. Be yourself. You’re still just a cog in a wheel.

You don’t have to know it all. When in doubt, refer to Leadership 101. Easy does it; do the right thing.

Christopher J. Weir, division chief, Port Orange (FL) Department of Fire & Rescue

Response: When I was promoted to company officer in 1988, it seemed surreal and yet, although I was thrilled to be in the “Officers Club,” I knew that with that promotion came more than just a white shirt, red helmet, and gold bugle (or plungers at times, depending on the incident). I knew that as a company officer I was responsible for my assigned station and the safety and compliance of my crew. I always advised my newly promoted officers, “It’s the job that’s easy; it’s the people who make it difficult.”

Over the years, I learned much from seasoned fire officers, as well as training from the National Fire Academy and Executive Fire Officers Program; my uncle, a retired fire captain from the Baltimore City (MD) Fire Department; seasoned fire officers from my peer group; and veteran firefighters who were a wealth of knowledge when you knew how to tap such invaluable resources effectively. When I was promoted to a chief officer in 1997, I also mentored a few newly promoted company officers in their positions and gave them 10 tips I learned from my humbling tenure to get them started:

1. Don’t let the position go to your head.

2. Communicate with your team. Respect contrasting points of views at the firehouse table. It’s all about teamwork.

3. Be a good listener, and keep everything in the strictest confidence and away from third-party or rumor mills.

4. Do not assume total control of the team. Empower your members with tasks and responsibilities; make them stakeholders of the team.

5. Know that friends are friends, and business is business. When at a business, you are the supervisor and manager of the house. There is a separation anxiety when going from being a part of the peer group to a supervisor. To alleviate such anxiety, talk with veteran officers or your battalion chief.

6. Be accountable for your actions. Remain truthful. Own your errors: Learn from them and move on. “Blamestorming” is not an option. The buck stops with you.

7. Focus on total team safety. Always mandate that your team adhere to the rules, regulations, SOGs, and directives.

8. When you write incident reports, write them as if you were going to appear in court. Reports should always be clear, concise, and in plain jargon. Company officers need to focus on What? Where? What happened? What did we do? What did we need to accomplish the objective? How was it resolved? What was the final disposition?

9. It is your responsibility to ensure your team’s development. You will evaluate subordinates under your charge-the strengths and (individual/team) areas that need improvement. This is accomplished with training, counseling, mentoring for promotion, early corrective action, and maintaining an open line of communication.

10. When it is necessary to counsel a subordinate, always discuss the issue on a one-on-one basis. Never yell. Never embarrass a subordinate in front of peers. As a reminder, we are developing our people, not dismantling them.

There are many more tips in becoming a successful fire officer. Now, it is up to the newly promoted officer and the veterans as well to always strive to be the best they and their team can be.

Gary Seidel, chief, Hillsboro (OR) Fire Department

Response: Any newly promoted officer has already gone through the rigors of the promotional examination process. Someone in the department has assisted them in their career development path and with mentoring, so the new officers’ qualities and attitude are fairly well developed. Assisting them in their growth will require continued mentoring and constant training.

This means taking care of your people; they are your number-one asset. Get to really know your people; you will know when they are mentally and physically ready or not. Coach them. Make sure all of your personnel have the fundamental principles to do the job. One-on-one conversations are often necessary to remain on the right path. Define the path, build the culture, align the resources, and do the right things right. Know when to take your foot out of the locker room. As a supervisor, it is all right to have a good time. However, as their supervisor you also have the responsibility to evaluate, correct performances, and discipline. You need to determine where that balance lies. Remember that the “trouble” with trouble is that it usually starts out as fun. Use your assets. Most of the time, you can ask questions and get advice prior to making a decision. But ultimately, the decision is yours. Become certified and qualified; take courses. Better yet, demonstrate that you can do the job. Be the best.

Freddie Fernandez, battalion chief, City of Miami (FL) Fire Rescue

Response: When I studied for my first promotional exam in 1987, I remember reading Fire Fighting Principles & Practices by William E. Clark,1 in which the author states that firefighters want three things from their officers: fairness, ability, and firmness. This advice rings true today.

Fairness is a trait that needs to be exhibited every day. All of your subordinates expect and deserve to be treated consistently and with respect. Although employees require differing amounts of motivation, guidance, or stimulus, it must be done fairly and equitably to maintain company unity and morale.

Ability needs to be demonstrated during routine and emergency situations. Officers need to understand policies, procedures, SOGs, rules, regulations, fire science, and emergency medical practices. The crew looks to the officer for leadership in tough situations; the leader must demonstrate the ability to handle the tough situations and make the difficult calls that lead to successful emergency operations. Officers must have the ability to develop their subordinates and need to be fundamentally sound in all areas of the fire service.

Firmness may be the one area that takes the most time to cultivate. New officers must learn to trust themselves and their subordinates. They must be firm in their convictions under extreme pressure and when the stakes are high. They must make the transition from subordinate to supervisor and yet maintain previous relationships with their former peers.

The advice of Chief Clark was valuable to me as an aspiring fire officer. Today I am a battalion chief, and his advice still guides my daily activities with superiors and subordinates alike.

Craig H. Shelley, fire protection advisor, Saudi Aramco

Response: My advice to newly promoted officers has many similarities to my advice for new hires. A newly promoted officer needs to listen and learn. There is much to be gained by listening to the troops in the fire station. Many times, the officer has less time in the fire service than the firefighters being supervised. Think of the knowledge that the firefighters in a fire station have, particularly about the local area and the hazards to be found in the district. Newly promoted officers also need to learn the basics of their position.

When I was first studying for promotion, management readings were first being placed in the bibliography. Wow! What a concept. For the first time, supervisors were being trained in management and supervisory practices. Until then, a limited number of management/supervisory questions were on the examinations for promotion, but most of your time as an officer was spent with the firefighters in the station performing supervisory duties. Most of the examination questions were based on firefighting and tactics.

I find today that when I have a management issue or I am researching a management issue, I go right to the books I was using to study in the ’70s. I also read the newer texts. This is not to say that newly promoted officers should give up learning the latest firefighting tactics and trends. On the contrary, we must all keep up with the new information. And we must always refresh ourselves in the basics. To sum it up in two words: listen and learn.

Jeffrey Schwering, lieutenant, Crestwood (MO) Department of Fire Services

Response: My advice to new company officers is, “Do the right thing, not only on the fireground but in all aspects of firehouse life.” Company officers are only as good as their firefighters. Officers, new or veteran, must gain the respect of their firefighters by handling every situation as fairly as possible. A new officer must keep calm and accept responsibility for his actions and those of his company. Not accepting responsibility and pushing blame onto a member will lead to a serious breakdown in respect within the company.

A new officer should always treat his members as adults. Meet with your members and let them know what you expect from them up front. This should keep the “but no one ever told me” comments to a minimum later. Keep an open-door policy; your way may not necessarily be the best way of handling a situation. Listen to what your people have to say, learn their strong points, and use them. Officer or probie, we never stop learning. Continue your education, not only for yourself but also for the firefighters and the public who depend on you to make the right decisions. When discipline is necessary, do what needs to be done in a fair and timely manner; ensure that the reason for discipline is completely understood by all parties involved. The best way a new officer can “do the right thing” is to think before engaging the vocal cords.

Bobby Shelton, firefighter/EMT-I,Cincinnati (OH) Fire Department

Response: Good officers are vital to a department. Not only do good officers instill confidence, they can make the work environment beneficial or harmful for all. The number-one attribute for an officer is humility. Often, people associate humility with weakness, when it actually is quite the opposite! The humble person is strong enough of character to know his limitations and will readily admit to them. Humble people will also acknowledge that they don’t know everything now that they are promoted. In realizing what they don’t know, they recognize and use the strengths of others in the company, thereby increasing company cohesiveness.

Leading by example is another key to good leadership. A leader who gets right in there with the company earns the respect of the company as opposed to the officer who stands around and barks orders while everyone else is working. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a good approach for a leader. Sooner or later, there will be a breakdown in communication, and the company’s effectiveness will be greatly diminished.

One caution to the new officer: The dynamic has changed. You are no longer “one of the guys.” You now are responsible, and that is a weighty responsibility. In discharging your duties, you may find some situations that require you to administer discipline. If you can’t do this in a fair and impartial manner, your road may be full of potholes. Being a leader is not about the pay raise or the shiny stuff on your collar. If that is all you want, you are in the wrong line of work. To be a good leader, you have to take the bad with the good and handle each in an appropriate manner. Make sure you set boundaries and that neither you nor the people in the company go beyond those set boundaries.

In the final analysis, it requires balance, maturity, setting the example, and humility to be a good leader. These are qualities we all should develop whether officers or not. You never know when you may be called to be in charge. As the officer, you need to have clearly in mind the type of leader you want to be. That actually goes back to the type of follower you were. It’s not enough to be able to do the job. As a leader, you need to be capable of doing the job in all its varied aspects. When you have accomplished that, that’s when you will have become a good leader.

Jeff A. Welch, chief (ret.),Coeur d’ Alene (ID) Fire Department

Response: There are three keys to becoming a successful company officer. The first is to prepare for the promotional process. This preparation starts the day you are hired. If you aspire to move up the ladder, it takes a career of learning and preparing for each step along the way. It does not happen overnight. Set aside time each day to study, and be religious about doing it.

Second, lead by example. If as a firefighter your lieutenant could not get you out of the recliner, it will be hard for you to get out of the recliner should you get the nod. Also, remember the firefighters for whom you are now responsible likely will remember how you were as a firefighter. If you thought training was a waste of time and everything that came down from above was a waste of time and paper, it will be very hard, if not impossible, for you to motivate your crew.

Third, treat others as you would like to be treated. As the company officer, you are responsible for many things. (Some you may not know about yet.) Take time to get to know the firefighters at your house: their families, what makes them tick. If you have an “I am the boss attitude,” the firefighters for whom you are responsible will not be willing to go the “extra mile” when it is critical.

Jim Mason, lieutenant, Chicago (IL) Fire Department

Response: It’s all about blue shirts. The focus of the entire day at the firehouse should be about the firefighters. They put out the fires, perform the rescues, and care for the sick and dying. This isn’t to say that they run the show, but they must get all the respect they deserve.

An officer earns the respect of the firefighters by providing an atmosphere in which the firefighters perceive the leadership to be in their best interest. This leadership must provide for safety. Does the officer facilitate realistic fireground training that will bring out new ideas and review old ones that will get all the firefighters home at the end of the shift? Are the firefighters involved?

An officer’s leadership must consider a member’s family. When appropriate, will compassion win over strict rules and regulations? We have all made mistakes in this job and have had problems outside of the firehouse. As officers, can we still remember our past and do the right thing?

An officer’s leadership must also provide for a member’s finances. Are we always looking to keep our firefighters with a regular, full paycheck and willing to give as much help as required to get them promoted when the next test comes?

An officer considered a “good man” by members looks for every training opportunity available, works to become the best teacher possible because it is a normal process of learning this job, and works for the betterment of his firefighters every day.

Tom Sitz, lieutenant, Painesville Township (OH) Fire Department

Response: “Never forget why you are there.” You are there for the safety and training of your crew and to make sure they are prepared to go out to serve and meet the needs of the people you swore to protect. You are there not only to make sure they are prepared to meet the needs of the community but also to see that they actually go out and accomplish that mission. Whether it is operating at a structure fire or making a PR appearance, it is the company officer’s job to make sure things get done. As a company officer, you have to remember that what is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular.

Officers must always remember to lead from the front: When the company is training, the officer is training. When the troops are hot or cold, the officer had better be hot or cold. When an unpopular detail comes along, the officer does not delegate and go to the office to play cards. He gets out there and lends a hand. The officer has been entrusted with the most important resource in the department and must make sure they go home in the morning.

Jason Camper, firefighter, Parker (CO) Fire District

Response: The most important asset a company officer has is the crew. Let the members do their job! Nobody wants micromanagement. You are in charge, but this doesn’t mean you have to be the “know all do all.” Everybody on the crew should bring something to the table. One firefighter might have a passion for extrication and another might be good at haz mat. Identify your members’ strengths and interests, and capitalize on them. The fire service is the epitome of jack-of-all-trades, and it is very difficult to attain and maintain an expert level of knowledge in all subjects. Your crew needs a good working knowledge in many areas, but you need a “go-to guy” for certain tasks.

You have entered into middle management and now have the daunting task of meeting your fire department’s goals and balancing your crew’s needs as well. This can be tricky. It’s give and take. It may be necessary to stick out your neck for the interest of your crew. Don’t be afraid to do this. Your crew needs to know that you’ll be there for them. On the contrary, there will certainly be times when you have to make a decision that is in the interest of the organization. This is what you promised to do in the chief interview. Pick your battles.

Have the same expectations for yourself that you have for your crew.

Mike Del Castillo, fire training officer, Travis County Emergency Services, Austin, Texas

Response: It has been said the fire service is promoting skilled technicians, not leaders. I see this as regretfully true but trust that company officers, regardless of affiliation, are competent in the technical aspects of the job-situational awareness, handline selection and deployment, report writing, and so on. Instead, I will address what I believe to be one of the greatest aspects of leadership, servanthood.

The position of company officer affords two types of power-the power to compel compliance and the power to make a difference. The former, a weapon really, is a necessity at times, particularly in the hazardous environments in which we operate. The latter has been described as a leash, a leash to unleash the power in others-that is, one will make their behavior better, and the other will make them better.

So my advice then is to serve your subordinates first. Give more than you get. Be “first in, last out” (as FDNY Battalion Chief John Salka puts it). How do you do this? Listening is a start. Get to know those whose families depend on your actions-not just on your fireground actions, getting mommy and daddy home safe at the end of the day, but in the downtime, too. Don’t just send them home safe, send them home happy and with the full knowledge that you understand their needs and are committed to taking care of them. Watch over them from probation to promotion, through good times and bad. They will return the favor.

Brian K. Singles, firefighter, Hampton (VA) Fire Department

Response: I give advice to company officers all the time; whether they use it or not is up to them. In my experience, those who take advice, be they veteran firefighters or company officers, become better leaders. Those too proud to take advice and think they know everything become stagnant in their position. They create a wall around themselves, which, in the long run, prevents them from becoming good officers.

I have worked for both kinds of officers and have dealt with many different mindsets. Some veterans who refuse to take advice and believe that what they say goes, right or wrong, are not willing to learn new tricks. In some cases, new firefighters holding rank, with little or no firefighting experience, are in charge of brand new rookies who are looking up to them for guidance and advice they cannot give because they don’t know and don’t care to know. This type of company officer has no business being in charge of anyone or anything, especially in the ever-changing firefighting business.

Hopefully within the next year or so, by the luck of the draw or by the grace of God or a little of both, I will be given the opportunity to become a company officer in my fire department. If so, I will take any advice thrown my way to become the best fire officer I possibly can. This will benefit not only me but also my crew, the fire department, and the fire chief, who has put his trust in my leadership capabilities.

Joseph D. Pronesti, captain, Elyria (OH) Fire Department

Response: My advice is simple: study, study, study. A company officer’s role is one of constant growth. In my department, I have seen firefighters study for the exam, score high enough to be promoted, and NEVER read another tactics book or attend a class or conference again in their career.

My city, as most others our size, does not have the funds to establish and maintain a training program for company officers, so you are on your own after you get the “gold.”

Company officers, be true to the service and your firefighters. It’s easy to slack off, to allow your firefighters to run the show, and you will probably get away with it nine times out of 10. However, that 10 percent is the fire or emergency where they will look to you for leadership and direction, and you must not let them down. Unfortunately, if you do not practice and study 100 percent of the time, you will let them and the service down.

Firefighters are smart. They know which officers are “slackoffs” and which are truly dedicated. Although it may not be the popular thing, they will respect you more for being a good boss who knows the job and looks out for their safety on every run.

Last, become familiar with authors like Frank Brannigan, Anthony Avillo, Vincent Dunn, and others. They wrote their books and articles so you, the company officer, will never have to sit on a curb staring at an emergency scene saying, “ I never thought of that or never have heard of that happening.”

Be prepared. Study. Look like an officer; act like one.

Lance C. Peeples, instructor, St. Louis County (MO) Fire Academy

Response: Lead by example.

John A. Van Doren, captain, Clyde (OH) Fire Department

Response: Ensure that you completely understand and buy your department’s known goals, future plans, and mission statement. This will help you make decisions and offer guidance that coincides with your department’s direction. Failing to recognize and realign conflicts or nonconforming actions can lead you into a poor leadership position from which it would be hard to recover.

Also, having a personal mission statement will allow you to operate and make decisions with confidence and less inner conflict. When faced with difficult decisions, or when you need to check your actions against consequences, you can check them against your personal and departmental values or statements. Being honest with yourself and seeking the correct information, you will probably make the best defendable decision.

Chief Alan Brunacini [Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department] helped me understand what it takes to lead when he told me your troops will come to you only when they need something, and your mental aspect and actions should reflect a “Don’t trust me, test me” posture. To me, it is keeping yourself positioned to help your troops and relying on your value systems to make consistent, undistracted decisions.

Underestimating the importance of your consistency and help (or lack of) can reinforce or sabotage your future efforts.

Gary Janka, captain, Lakewood (WI) Fire Department

Response: Always keep the faith, and protect your firefighters by training and retraining those not up to par, because in the end it is just you and your people-not the politicians-who will make the difference if you save lives, stabilize the incident, and protect property.

Jack M. Smith, training officer, North Slope Borough Fire Department, Barrow, Alaska

Response: Effective officers in combination or volunteer departments must relate to their members. There are excellent manuals on leadership, crew resource management, decision making, and other related skills. Unfortunately, some ignore this valuable information and accompanying experiences, reverting to an authoritarian style of leadership. Officers may survive, but morale is lower and personnel problems higher.

Working with eight departments in rural Alaska, the difference among leadership styles is easily observable. In one community, the leader rolled up his sleeves and worked with volunteers. Although it was a long day of training, members continued to give their all. In another department, the leader was not motivated, and it affected the volunteers, who impatiently waited for the end of each day. As officers, we are role models and must demonstrate the behavior expected from personnel.

Hold the safety of your personnel above all else. We are responsible for them. Be life-long learners, recognizing new information or experiences improves knowledge and capabilities. Hopefully, we push or pull personnel along to educate the next generation. And, as Chief Brunacini says, “Be Nice!”

Ethan Lahey, firefighter, Fire Department of New York

Response: As company officers, we are faced with daily and hourly responsibilities that are ever changing. This forces us to constantly redevelop and reevaluate our performance, as well as that of the members with whom we work.

The following points of interest may apply to the company officer’s administrative or tactical concerns.

Set goals. Remain realistic. Have high expectations, but do not lose hope if your goals are not fully achieved. Set them so they are in stages; achieve the first step and continue until you are satisfied with the end result.

• Stay focused. Try to avoid overwhelming yourself with multiple tasks. To do this, you must remain focused on the task at hand. By devoting time and effort to one project at a time, you will accomplish more.

• Lead by example. You can preach to members, but if you are found operating or acting in accordance with the ever infamous phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do,” you will be confronted with a lack of respect as well as a lack of command and control over your members.

• Remain open-minded/use your resources. Refrain from developing a “WALLS-UP” attitude or feeling that you know best because you are the officer. Listen to what people have to say, discuss your ideas with them, and be receptive of theirs. From the youngest rookie in the firehouse to the most senior member, everybody has something to offer.

• Evaluate. Evaluate your members’ progress, whether on a quarterly basis for junior members or an annual basis for senior members. Constant evaluations will give you answers to the questions at hand: What more do I have to do, and how can I better train the members? If so, take corrective action as quickly as possible. This is a time when you can evaluate yourself, acknowledging your strong points and discovering your weaknesses.

Endnote

1. The second edition was published in 1991 by Fire Engineering.

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