The Boss

fire9No this isn’t about Springsteen….
The Company Officer fulfills a mission critical role within the fire service that directly affects personnel and public safety and community accord. The title carries with it the opportunity to ride the “front seat” and be in charge of a company responsible for addressing incident operations and service demands dictated by the company’s function, responsibility and task assignment.

Recognizing the various avenues available that place a firefighter in transition from a individual contributor to that of a first-line supervisor; whether thru examination, assessment, appointment or popular vote, there are essential functions and elements that the title bestows. The title also carries with it an immense responsibility, obligation, duty and accountability. It’s much more than a set of collar brass and new front helmet shield.

Recently, having been engaged in conversation and dialog on a national level discussing firefighter safety initiatives and actions, the question that comes up frequently is; “Where can the fire service make the greatest impact on firefighter safety, in the least amount of time?” I strongly believed it’s with the “Boss”, the “Lieu” or the “Cap”- The Company Officer, that first-line supervisor who has command and control of their staff of personnel and can either permit or enforce a wide variety of administrative, managerial or operational essentials. They can have the greatest influence on firefighter safety, operational integrity and risk management.

Following the initiation of the NFPA 1021 Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications in the early 1980’s, one of the first organizations that recognized the need to begin expanding the opportunities for educational, competencies and skills development was the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). The ISFSI’s Company Officer Development program (COD) was formulative in the identification of company officer developmental needs and providing the manner in which to achieve those needs through dedicated training and focused program delivery. Although many agencies and organizations align with the a number of professional qualifications paths and certification processes, with most departments having some form of qualification or prerequisites; many still do not for a number of reasons.

Here’s a link HERE, to a hybrid voluntary process that was developed for county level implementation and aimed at a predominate volunteer fire service system to increase fire officer proficiencies, provide suggested consistency and bridge the gaps between local level training and “qualifications” and state or national level professional qualifications. Contact me if you’d like more insights on the Volunteer Fire Officer Credentialing Program.

Here’s some questions to ponder;

  • Give the specific narrowed band of choice, what is more important for a Company Officer to have attained: Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) in Suppression based Strategies and Tactics OR Leadership, management and Operations? What is the basis for your selected KSA and why?
  • What is the minimum time in grade a firefighter should attain before they consider a transition to a Company Officer?
  • Should professional qualifications, certification and advanced training be a prerequisite for the rank of a company officer?
  • What do you feel are the mission critical attributes or KSA that today’s Company Officer must have?
  • Can the Company Officer make the necessary impacts to improve the safety culture of the fire service?

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