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  • Selection of Volunteer Officers

    What does anyone think about promoting volunteer officers based on their qualifications, training, experience, and education rather that the traditional "popularity vote?" Would it be possible to conduct an assessment center and promote volunteers that way? (Assuming the assessment center reflects the job duties, since that's a whole other argument) My volunteer department has very poor leadership, and I'm wondering if changing the way we choose our officers would help anything. Assessment centers are usually done in paid departments, but I see it as the same job, paid or volunteer. (I'm a career and a volunteer officer, in case anyone is wondering) Thanks for your input!

  • #2
    We don't exactly have officers at my station, the paid stations do however. At our station, there are certain qulifications people must meet before being considered for certain positions. For example, we have crew leaders, one step above a regular firefighter, they must be FireFighter1 certified and have something like 1 or 2years experience. Above that is station commander, which is a minimum FireFighter2 and something else, I forget. However, after you meet those requirements, you are then voted on by popular vote. I don't agree with the way things are here, and personally can't wait till I make the move to the paid side to get away from these problems. The 'administration' makes rules up, but no one follows them.

    Anywho, if I were in a position to make deceisions, I would make each position a combination of experience/certifications/training. Obviously I wouldn't put a rookie in the officer ranks. Seeing some of the things around here, I would almost be inclined to make FF's certified FF1/2 before being able to ride out on the trucks, or they would at least be 4th or 5th in the jump... I could go on and on but I'll stop for now .

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    • #3
      I'm not going to lay out the whole process, but our officers are appointed by the Fire Chief after a testing process, and oral board.


      ------------------
      Take care, stay safe, & stay low!

      Lt. Spinney

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      • #4
        smokeater51-
        Thanks for your input! How do you feel this process works? Are you comfortable with the quality of your officers? (Do you feel that this produces the best people for the job?) I'm very dissatisfied with the "popularity vote" which pays no attention to experience, performance, training, or education. Has anyone out there tried both? Which worked best? Thanks again.

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        • #5
          In the volly dept I am in the only positions filled by popular vote are the cheif and ***. chief. Then they decide who the officers are based on expierence, training, respect of the other ff's, and time in service. So far it seems to work pretty well with us.

          ------------------
          When the defecation hits the oscillation I'll be there.

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          • #6
            In our co. the chiefs are voted in and than they appoint the officers, a flaw that has develpoed is that as the by-law is written is that the chief appoints his officers not all 3 chiefs appointing, so now we have the chief picking persons by favoritism. In a recent incident the chief removed 3 officers because he felt personal differnces between hisself and them, whereas the other 2 chiefs did not want these persons taken out of office. I feel that if the rules are written so your top 3 make the choice you shoud get reliable persons, but it all depends on who you have on top. In my paid dept. there is a civil service type test taken before you can become an officer and this works as well because you usaly only have persons that want to do good for the co. taking the tests and applying for the postion. hope this helps some.

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            • #7
              I am an active member in a few stations due to moving recently.
              One station you require FF2, and yearly class work to be a (capt. and a chief more requirements). All 5 chiefs are individually voted into the position. All 6 captains are appointed by the line officers into their position. For the most part you get into a position because you deserve it. This is the good way in my mind.

              Situation 2, they say it is by experience but no real requirements except you are a member for x years. Then you get it by popularity. I will not get into this one. I prefer not to step to this level.

              Both are volunteer depts. but are 180 degrees apart in thier thinking.

              ------------------
              Keep Safe!

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              • #8
                The absolute BEST way that i have seen a fire department that I have PERSONALLY been in was in Boone County Fire Prtoection District, located in Missouri.

                When I applied there to join the Vollies, I had an interview with a BAT Chief, then did a physical agility test. Then the class of 15 was chosen based on agility scores and station needs. Then a 4 week academy. (Every Wed night, and every other weekend, all day Sat. and Sun.) From there you did your year probationary status. After that promotions were done through evals.

                I am now on a dept. that is a definite "good 'ole boys network". You **** off the wrong person and you are screwed. I do not agree with selection through popular vote due to the fact that a good officer IS going to upset the "old ways" due to the fact that the fire service is an ever evolving profession. I like the way Smokeeater51's company does it. Wish it could happen here.

                Your brother in the service,
                Rob

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                • #9
                  In the dept I am in,we have to have at least 5 years service in before you are even allowed to write the officers exam.this is an in house 120 question exam.Upon successful completion 70% for lieut 75-80% for captain and the captains has 30 extra questions,then the panel (senior officers) rate you accordingly.call attendance,practice and suitability for the job.then if all is equal on everything then seniority comes into play.Hope this helps

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                  • #10
                    During the twelve years that I was Department Chief, our by-laws were specifically amended so that I could appoint and dismiss line officers based upon qualification; education; experience;common sense; psychological ability; and so forth. This was pne of the best moves the Department ever made because it placed intelligently fit people on the street where critical decisions are made. This attempt at sanity didn't last long , however, as the next Chief (voted in by popularity contest) promptly proposed new by-laws which terminated that Officer Section. Otherwise all of his relatives that occupy positions there now wouldn't have qualified under the intelligence guidelines. Nor would he have for that matter. So goes life with the native sons in a small town!!! Looking at the situation there now I'm glad I'm out of that situation before they succeeed in killing someone!!

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                    • #11
                      I agree wholeheartedly with Lt. Spinny..and
                      I'll try to elaborate a bit. Let's face it..selection of officer's is paramount in our line of work.
                      These are the guys who will lead you into battle, either successfully or not. If it's the latter usually someone gets hurt.

                      Selection should be through testing and oral boards..it's not a perfect system, but the best we have. Of course you can limit those tested with prerquisites, such as years of service, level of competence, etc.

                      One thing that I feel is very imoportant is that the oral board should NOT under any circumstances contain any members of your department. Go to outside departments and recruit seasoned officers to evaluate your own.

                      Good Luck and stay safe

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