Trending Topics

Company Officers Have Met the Challenge in ’06

The fire service has been busy this year. Challenging events, both natural and man-made, continue to test our strength and abilities to operate efficiently at emergency scenes. The brutal facts are that emergency responses are not declining, they are increasing; the fire service is facing significant staffing challenges, including a less-experienced firefighting force; and this is still a very dangerous job, painfully evidenced by the fact that we continue to injure and lose too many firefighters. Because the company officer operates at the tactical level, where everything gets real, the weight of these challenges rests heavily on their shoulders.

Company officers everywhere, from volunteer to combination to career departments, have met these challenges by becoming versed in a variety of areas in order to lead their firefighters safely and effectively. They continually foster self-improvement by discussing, reviewing, evaluating and critiquing fire service issues, especially those related to safety, leadership, accountability and risk management. These discussions, whether while attending a conference or just sitting at the kitchen table, lead to new and interesting ideas that enhance emergency operations.

We must continue to meet these challenges head-on by focusing on the “16 Firefighting Life Safety Initiatives” to promote the cultural change needed in the fire service to ensure that everyone goes home. Company officers should especially concentrate on the first three initiatives, where they can help to encourage this change with their firefighters.

1. Define and advocate the need for a cultural change within the fire service relating to safety; incorporating leadership, management, supervision, accountability and personal responsibility.

2. Enhance the personal and organizational accountability for health and safety throughout the fire service.

3. Focus greater attention on the integration of risk management with incident management at all levels, including strategic, tactical, and planning responsibilities.

(Visit to view all 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives)

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Fire department company officers can influence every part of fire station life, from culture and motivation to LODD reduction. Learn to lead effectively with Billy Schmidt’s FireRescue1 exclusive column, ‘The Company Officer.’