Company (Officer) Training is a two-way street – you must get it and give it. Company officers must continually train to increase their proficiency and they must continually provide training to increase the proficiency of their crew(s).
One of the biggest misconceptions about being, or acting as, a company officer is that solid firefighting skills will get the job done – NOT! As a company officer there’s much more involved. The company officer must remain solid in firefighting skills, make sure that crew members do the same, and make sure that everybody works together – a lot tougher than it seems!
Continuous training on firefighting skills is a given. While every firefighter should seek out as much training as possible, the company officer must go above and beyond. Catch the seat of any apparatus responding to a working incident and you better know what everyone on the rig should be doing – and you better make sure it’s getting done. No more letting somebody else worry about the details! Don’t forget incident command. Beyond basic firefighting, the company officer must become proficient at taking command of an incident, at least in the early stages, and coordinating the initial strategy and tactics. Taking command is more than giving a well-articulated size-up and attaching a name to the address, it’s about applying the resources available to control the incident – which means you must rely on others to get it done.
Beyond these skills, the company officer must step into the highly temperamental world of managing and leading people – thought to be the most enjoyable part of the job when somebody else has to do it! This is the area that requires the most effort when it comes to finding training (a company officer is a subordinate, peer, and superior all in one position). There isn’t a whole lot available to help learn the ropes of dealing with people – especially within the fire service – so the company officer must continually look for opportunities from whatever source is available (a great source of training can be found in the business world). By the way, just because the fire service is poor at training people to deal with people doesn’t mean that you – as a company officer – don’t have to worry about it!
The bottom line – continue to train for proficiency on the fireground but seek out training to deal with the non-fireground time (that represents most on-duty time).
As a company officer it doesn’t matter whether you love it or hate – you’re responsible for training others!
Performance on the fireground is one measure of the success or failure of a company officer and crew. However, successful performance on the fireground is very seldom due to luck – it’s usually the result of a well-trained company. Whether you’re a company officer, or a firefighter acting as one, providing training is a vital part of the job.
Developing a company training program is one way to ensure the job gets done. We’ve all heard the excuses – the training department doesn’t give us any material, we can’t get the time to do the proper training, we don’t have the resources to do the training, or whatever variation of the excuses you’re familiar with – who cares, you won’t win points for creativity when it comes to making up an excuse! Channel your creativity into finding ways to provide training and maintaining a top-notch crew.
Here’s a couple ideas for providing company training:
- Stop making excuses for why you can’t or don’t train!
- To get started, have each member of your company give a short training session – pick a piece of equipment on the apparatus and start talking about it, once you get the discussion started you never know what might happen. One piece of equipment a day — that should take care of the next month!
Find a successful company (officer) and you’ll find an individual (crew) that’s been able to use TRAINING as both a noun and a verb. That is, they’ve been able to continually seek training for themselves as well as provide training for others. The company (officer) who doesn’t embrace training is a department liability!