My past four blog posts revolved around battalion chiefs and the top three complaints that I have heard about them. Last week, I addressed tactically and technically incompetent battalion chiefs. This week I am switching gears and writing about fire officers, including battalion chiefs, who are tactically and technically competent.
Before continuing, let’s look at the definition of competence which is, “possession of required skill, knowledge, qualification, or capacity.”1 Look closely at those words and allow them to sink in.
Strategy, tactics, and incident complexity
Whereas strategy is the overarching goal, tactics are the steps taken to meet the objective of the declared strategy. Simply stated, how to get the job done, which is not always as easy as it sounds. This requires technical and tactical competence.
Complex emergency incidents, changing conditions, resource needs, and the experience and training levels of personnel on scene contribute to the demands placed on fire officers. Successfully meeting these challenges involves continued training and study, requesting and accepting performance feedback, and the humility to admit that there is room for growth and development.
To accomplish the above, we must engage our brain and not rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to solve the problems faced by fire officers at the scene of an emergency. Seri, Alexa, or any other form of AI is not going to tell you what to do and how to do it when you are on your knees in a burning building with smoke banking down and the temperature rising. You had better be a tactically competent individual capable of making rapid decisions or you, your crew, and other firefighters are in trouble.
One of the common fire service mantras is, certified versus qualified. A fire officer can have enough certificates from state agencies, seminars, and conferences to adorn an entire wall, yet be incapable of deciding what size hose to use and where to place it. That person is certified but not qualified or competent.
The competent officer:
- Is a student of the profession and is committed to self-improvement.
- Understands fire behavior, building construction, fuel/weather/topography, the basics of firefighting, and decision-making.
- Knows how to operate pumps, aerial devices, power equipment, air monitors, etc.
- Can navigate onboard apparatus computers, desk top computers, and is capable of using software required to accomplish the job (including the ability to write coherent reports using available software).
Propel your tactical and technical competence to higher levels.
As a veteran battalion chief, I have the command and leadership background, experience, and resources to provide meaningful and relevant training to help you become a better fire officer. However, I cannot do that through mental telepathy. You must make the decision to improve yourself. You must act and not wait for your department to automatically do it for you. What is holding you back?
Please visit my website at www.impactusleadership.com, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and learn how to improve your skills and abilities as a fire department officer.