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Promoted to Lieutenant, assistance needed

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  • Promoted to Lieutenant, assistance needed

    So this past month our Lieutenant passed his position down to me after discussion with our Chief and Dep. Chief. Quick rundown, we are a small volunteer dept consisting of approx 15 members, 8 or which are probies, including myself. We handle maybe 20 calls per year, most of which are wildland and false calls, with the odd major structure, vehicle fire, etc.
    I was reading about Lieutenant's Syndrome and am currently doing my best to avoid this condition.
    Anyways, i have yet to sit down with our Chief and Deputy Chief to discuss their wishes for my new position, but i'd like to get input on what a small department Lieutenants are responsible for? I've looked into what career Lieutenants cover and we just haven't got their yet in regards to equipment, training and duties.
    With our dept slowly getting everyone trained in Fire behavior, PPE, SCBAs, Equipment etc, whats my best options for getting my Lieutenant ABC's down? Should I contact another similar dept and have a mentor to help guide me in learning? I will be honest, the guidance is not prevalent in our dept, and most probies only get a few hours a month at the monthly meeting to learn and hone skills. I've been reading and attempting to do hands on work from my Essentials Handbook, and this month i'll be going over the Officers handbook. Basically, just looking for advice, guidance and overall understanding of what could be entailed for my position.
    Thanks

  • #2
    First question is what does your organizational tree look like?

    I would opine that if you're still a probie, you're simply filling a slot in that tree.

    If you're the only LT, I would suggest that makes you something like fourth or fifth in command, behind the chiefs and maybe a captain. You therefore face the possibility of being in command of an incident, or being assigned some aspect of command at an incident.

    If you haven't already, be sure to get ICS 100, 200, 700 and 800 under your belt. They're on-line (at FEMA) and free. In fact, they should be required for everyone.

    As for your department's expectations - that's very hard for us to assess - in a small department such as yours the responsibilities could include any of a wide range of things. You need to talk to your superiors (including senior members) to find out what they are. Find out who's held the job in the past and talk to them.

    With 20 calls a year (we finished with 138) the impetus to train is small - you don't get many reminders in the form of real calls. Regardless of what you do in-house, if you have opportunities to attend training outside your department, take advantage of them, and take someone else along.





    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the FEMA suggestion, I'll definitely get those done. I have a sit down planned with the Chief and Deputy Chief to discuss what they want to entail from me. Main reason was due to the previous LT Stepping down, and due to the minimal schooling training i have they felt id be next to take on that roll. It does seem like im the only one around the firehouse willing to donate his time into cleaning, maintenance of gear, inspections, physical training, etc other than the Chief.
      Ive taken some outside dept training through the provinces volunteer association which was highly beneficial and hopefully more to come. We're planning on bringing in an instructor a few times this year to get guys taught as well but for the most part, only training is during our monthly meeting which by that standard, will take years to have our guys be up to par on everything.

      Comment


      • #4
        20 calls a year makes it hard to gain experience. if 50% of your department are probies, that's scary. If your a proby and acting as a lieutenant, that's even scarier. You don't know the job of a firefighter, yet they want you to be in charge of firefighters? and direct their actions? huge warning sign, esp if something happens and you get blamed.

        Speak to the chiefs and captains about what they expect. Every department is different.

        as for training, do what you can to complete your firefighter 1 and 2 certification. even if it's outside of your primary area. Learn the basics of firefighting... once you are comfortable with that, look at officer stuff.

        You can always push to change training from once a month to once a week. That's what we do.
        If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

        FF/EMT/DBP

        Comment


        • #5
          drparasite - I fully agree, i am currently taking every course available when it comes up in my area, as well as studying at home from Essentials 6, ICS, and training sessions from the volunteer association and gov't training programs. Chief and Deputy don't expect me as of yet to command, but i've taken my ICS 100, in the instance they don't arrive on scene but that hasn't happened yet plus my Level 1 Basic/Behavior/PPE course, next is actual SCBA class, then on to knots and ladders, Wildland Suppresion, pump operations and the others to complete 1/2. Our dept is doing a lot of catch up and the initiative i show i show demonstrates the ability to lead. Once my Level 1 is complete, that will be the time i'll be given more responsibility in command if need be.
          We're actually around 75% probies. Hence why i'm on here looking for more insight to better myself. And as far as being blamed, yes your right, accountability is key when in command but the dept has 2 captains, a deputy Chief and Chief so the chances of myself having to be delegated FF's on scene are extremely low, and they still command myself as a FF while on scene. I don't plan to take any actual officer command outside the firehouse until training is complete, inside however i do pass along everything i know so far to those who dont. I practice at home for a couple hours a day with knots and ropes, physical training, learing fire behavior, going over my basics of what i do know, as well as speaking with a mentor/captain from another dept about things. What i want to know more about is what kind of responsibilities and actions small dept Lieutenants take care of on a daily basis in their house. Mine so far is cleaning, maintaining small equipment, helping other probie's learn their gear, fire behavior etc at meetings, I know there's still very minimal i can teach so what i do learn i make sure to pass that off and how to source that information online or manual.
          Im pushing for bi-monthly meetings at this point but we are in the midst of the possible creation of a Fire Board so there's not a lot i can do politically until that's complete.
          The Chief is helping guide me by taking stuff off his plate to take care of so thats the start.
          Any guidance from others is highly accepted and recommended from others who do come across this thread.
          Humility is my key component in training.

          Comment


          • #6
            At the first volunteer department I was on, we had two chiefs, a captain, a 1st Lt and a second Lt. They all had separate administrative responsibilities. We had three stations: Station 1 had an engine, ladder, reserve engine, and snorkel. Station 2 had an engine, and heavy rescue. Station 3 had an engine, and occasionally the reserve engine or snorkel was relocated there.

            the 2nd Lt's ran the fire stations. It was their house, they were in charge of the engine, and responsible for the crew. The 1st Lt was in charge of all equipment, gear, and repairs. the captain was overall in charge of all the trucks. Chief's did what chief's do.

            If you were a second Lt on my department, you would be in charge of an apparatus. The chief's might be the IC, but the crew is your responsibility. He assigns your crew a task, and you tell your crew how you want it done. We NEVER had chief's on the apparatus. Captains and 1st Lts might show up, and could ride as officer, but it was typically the Lt's truck.

            Do what you can, train where and when you can. learn what you can. Take ICS 200 (the classroom is more useful than online). Complete your firefighter training. It might save your life, or the life of your crew one day.
            If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

            FF/EMT/DBP

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by drparasite View Post
              At the first volunteer department I was on, we had two chiefs, a captain, a 1st Lt and a second Lt. They all had separate administrative responsibilities. We had three stations: Station 1 had an engine, ladder, reserve engine, and snorkel. Station 2 had an engine, and heavy rescue. Station 3 had an engine, and occasionally the reserve engine or snorkel was relocated there.

              the 2nd Lt's ran the fire stations. It was their house, they were in charge of the engine, and responsible for the crew. The 1st Lt was in charge of all equipment, gear, and repairs. the captain was overall in charge of all the trucks. Chief's did what chief's do.

              If you were a second Lt on my department, you would be in charge of an apparatus. The chief's might be the IC, but the crew is your responsibility. He assigns your crew a task, and you tell your crew how you want it done. We NEVER had chief's on the apparatus. Captains and 1st Lts might show up, and could ride as officer, but it was typically the Lt's truck.

              Do what you can, train where and when you can. learn what you can. Take ICS 200 (the classroom is more useful than online). Complete your firefighter training. It might save your life, or the life of your crew one day.
              Its crazy to see how vastly different volly departments are organized. Its normal for our chief or deputy chief to be on the nozzle or manning the pump. One or the other takes IC ant the other usually takes nozzle or backup. We are small and usually the only two people not doing work are the IC and safety officer. Everyone else, including chief, is actively working.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the insight to others dept's, its helpful to know how others man their house. We're in the process of developing our SOP's once the yay or nay happens regarding the fire board. one of the councilors helped set up another depts fire board and SOP's. Once those get developed we'll have better structure forming. Alongside other depts, we're finally coming into the light on change and proper internal structure and position placement.
                Over the next couple years will be the best of the development i'm hoping.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JSJJ388 View Post
                  Its crazy to see how vastly different volly departments are organized. Its normal for our chief or deputy chief to be on the nozzle or manning the pump. One or the other takes IC ant the other usually takes nozzle or backup. We are small and usually the only two people not doing work are the IC and safety officer. Everyone else, including chief, is actively working.
                  And this is very true, especially in smaller departments. And I can't blame chief for actually wanting to be on the nozzle and getting to spray some water, however if he's doing that, he's acting as a firefighter, not a chief. And its way more fun to be inside fighting a fire than watching other spray water.

                  I'm not saying he shouldn't, or lacks the ability to function as a firefighter, however if a chief officer is on the nozzle, he isn't functioning as a chief. similarly, if your captain is on the nozzle, he isn't supervising his crew and functioning as an officer. If your chief is manning the pump, his priority is the pump and getting water to his guys, not managing the scene (at least at first).

                  One other thing: if your chief drives the truck to the scene, is he functioning as the IC, or the engineer? is his priority getting water to his guys, establishing water supply, and assisting in stretching lines, or doing a 360, performing a sizeup, requesting resources, etc? Can they do both? I'm sure it has been done, and that's ok until something goes wrong, and then people start asking questions and comparing his actions to common standards.
                  If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

                  FF/EMT/DBP

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                    And this is very true, especially in smaller departments. And I can't blame chief for actually wanting to be on the nozzle and getting to spray some water, however if he's doing that, he's acting as a firefighter, not a chief. And its way more fun to be inside fighting a fire than watching other spray water.

                    I'm not saying he shouldn't, or lacks the ability to function as a firefighter, however if a chief officer is on the nozzle, he isn't functioning as a chief. similarly, if your captain is on the nozzle, he isn't supervising his crew and functioning as an officer. If your chief is manning the pump, his priority is the pump and getting water to his guys, not managing the scene (at least at first).

                    One other thing: if your chief drives the truck to the scene, is he functioning as the IC, or the engineer? is his priority getting water to his guys, establishing water supply, and assisting in stretching lines, or doing a 360, performing a sizeup, requesting resources, etc? Can they do both? I'm sure it has been done, and that's ok until something goes wrong, and then people start asking questions and comparing his actions to common standards.
                    I absolutely agree with you. Its very difficult to do both. Usually whoever is there first, does a sizeup, then grabs a nozzle and goes to work. When there are 4 people on scene, you make do with what youve got.

                    Example: a few weeks ago we were called for a large outbuilding fire, no threat to exposures and unoccupied. It was less than a mile from my house, and as I was leaving I could see that it was rolling. I was the first one there and called in a size up as best I could (first time), and donned my gear. Turned out to be fully involved, venting through the roof, and threatening the mobile home 25 ft away. Chief was the next one on scene followed by a lt and cpt, then our first due engine pulled in with another ff. We all got lines ready, chief and the cpt took the nozzle and went to work while the other ff handled the exposure and I spotted the incoming trucks. The asst chief and another officer were on the tanker that pulled in next. Asst chief was IC Not ideal, but we do what we can with what we have.

                    As for your other questions, I havent been around long enough to answer them.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by drparasite View Post
                      And this is very true, especially in smaller departments. And I can't blame chief for actually wanting to be on the nozzle and getting to spray some water, however if he's doing that, he's acting as a firefighter, not a chief. And its way more fun to be inside fighting a fire than watching other spray water.

                      I'm not saying he shouldn't, or lacks the ability to function as a firefighter, however if a chief officer is on the nozzle, he isn't functioning as a chief. similarly, if your captain is on the nozzle, he isn't supervising his crew and functioning as an officer. If your chief is manning the pump, his priority is the pump and getting water to his guys, not managing the scene (at least at first).

                      One other thing: if your chief drives the truck to the scene, is he functioning as the IC, or the engineer? is his priority getting water to his guys, establishing water supply, and assisting in stretching lines, or doing a 360, performing a sizeup, requesting resources, etc? Can they do both? I'm sure it has been done, and that's ok until something goes wrong, and then people start asking questions and comparing his actions to common standards.
                      Great response. I'll only differ on one point. Being the IC requires a skill set just as much as operating the nozzle does. I take great satisfaction in doing it and doing it well (Hopefully).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Our dept has the chief and deputy chief being the only real trained IC guys so hence my taking the classes to add to that position as well, the more trained, the better. It would be nice to get everyone on board with the classes. Most of us have the concept down for Chain, Unity and Span of control which helps, just as long as we don't over-load the chief, as he could very well be on nozzle and IC which as Drparasite explained, can lead to poor span and unity, thus possible failure of scene command and problems arising. Ideally i'd like the pump operator to run our PAR system and have IC down but really its a crap shoot who comes so anyone could be on pump at any given fire. I think my main focus this year is making sure each FF is on the exact same page with IC, operations and attack, which is proving a little difficult, but with time...

                        Comment

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