Here are some thoughts that will directly affect those of you in large departments who are being "threatened" with a promotion to first-line supervisor and who must take another assignment in another area of the city, as well as those of you who are in smaller and volunteer departments, where everyone knows everyone.
In career and volunteer departments as well as industrial fire brigades, we would not use an unqualified or uncertified firefighter for firefighting, an uncertified driver/operator to pump an engine at a fire scene, or an uncertified inspector to conduct a building inspection or plans review. So why are we so willing to authorize the use of uncertified company officers to lead our most important assets--our firefighters--into harm`s way?
How well a fire department operates on the fireground depends to a large extent on the capabilities of the company officers. A chief officer can develop the most effective strategy possible for extinguishing a fire, but the success of that strategy depends on the tactics used by the company officers.
The company officer was dissected, examined in detail and reassembled at the fall conference of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors at Denver, Nov. 1-4. Conceding that he must be a fire-ground tactician, the speakers emphasized time after time that the company officer of the ’80s must be a supervisor, administrator and instructor because the increasing needs of the fire service demand these capabilities.
The development of company officers will be the theme of the fall conference of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors at Denver November 1-4. The Thursday through Sunday sessions at Stouffer’s Denver Inn will cover both the training of company officers and definitions of their responsibilities.
Company officers are the most important people on the fireground. Highly appropriate strategy developed by chief officers depends on the capability of company officers to translate it into effective tactics and direct the efforts of the fire fighters they supervise to attain the desired results.
At best, fire fighting is a physically demanding job, but there are times when it need not be as difficult as it is. An alert company officer can often make the going easier for his men—particularly at fires in dwellings and small to medium-size stores. While the chief in command of a fire must develop appropriate strategy for his companies to attack a fire effectively with minimum physical punishment, the company officer is the man who has the duty to recognize when the going is rougher than it should be.
Although safety is everyone’s responsibility in the fire service, leaving it at that insures the accomplishment of little or nothing. First, safety must be a known objective of the chief of the fire department. That gives safety the status that will gain it some attention.
LEADERSHIP is the art of imposing one’s will upon others in such a manner as to command obedience, respect, confidence and loyal cooperation. Leadership ability is brought into play in every situation where officers deal with other people. Your ability to use efficiently the talents of those entrusted to your charge will be the measure of your leadership.
One of the most drastic orders that ever emanated from Fire Headquarters in New York came to light on November 15th. It reads: “Commanding Officers are hereby directed to drill their companies for at least one hour each day in the handling of all tools, apparatus, appliances and in the evolutions required in existing rules and regulations and special orders. The time of the beginning and cessation of drills shall be entered in the company journal, together with a record of any interruptions occurring due to response to alarms for fire.