Sliding Across the Seat

  We have a brand new Lieutenant on my company filling in while our assigned boss is out.   I can see the Jr. Lt struggling with his new role and trying to find his place in the chain of command.  He came from a slower district with very few EMT-B’s and a company without a specialty (Hazmat, Tech Rescue, CAFS, Tower etc…) to a Technical Rescue house where you can’t throw a rock without hitting a paramedic. 

  We do our daily training and we don’t expect him to get involved because he is just passing through.  He wants to get involved but he thinks he needs to be the boss during the evolutions.  When we are on medical calls he tries to coach the crew through treatment protocols but he is the only current member of the crew that has never worked for a private ambulance service.

  I suppose I’m not helping very much.  The boss across the floor omits our new Lt every once in awhile.  I don’t know a good way to approach him to offer help with the computer programs, he’s behind on reports, possibly because he’s not familiar with the system.  He can’t access information from the mobile computer while we are responding.  And he won’t get off the damn Federal while we are responding.

  He is a great example of the need for an officer training academy or something similar.  I know it sounds like I’m just busting on him, but I really want to help him out.  He, like every other new officer on my job, is handed a set of bugles on Monday and shows up at a company on Tuesday without any advice, training or mentoring. 

  I’m currently a part time officer.  I fill in for a few weeks here and there, but not permanent.  Don’t think I’m jealous either, I’m not, he got the spot before me fair and square.  I’m sure he’ll be fine after he adjusts.  But why isn’t there a “minimum standards” class or something to that effect?

  I’m going to try to talk to him next tour and see if we can get him up to speed on the computer at least, then we’ll work on his Federal addiction.

Any advise would be appreciated.

Stay Safe.


  • Nate Q. says:

    My advice would be to break the ice and give him some pointers. Use your computer session to break the ice, and offer him more throughout the shift. Another route, is to use a respected senior man (informal leader) to offer advice.

    I went through a similar situation about 4 years ago. While we have a Fire Officer I cert. here in FL, our dept. had no set officer training/mentoring program…bugles on Monday, to the wolves on Tuesday. The flip side in my case, was that I was the new officer. While I had come from a fairly busy house with special service units, there was still a big adjustment.

    Just like I’m sure your new Lt. is, I (at first) struggled to find a balance in being “one of the guys”, and now, the “boss”. On one hand, you don’t want to step on any toes, but on the other, you want to show that you are confident in your new role. Luckily, like your guy, I had a Capt. across the floor who saw what was happening, and helped me sort some stuff out.

    Another issue your guy might be experiencing (and one I still struggle with), is going from doing everything himself as FF, to now standing back and letting others do it. I offer the senior man route, because I had a respected senior DE help me realize that my role was now that of oversight, looking out for your crew, and letting them do their job. He pulled out a photo album of the company, and proceeded to show me pictures of fires/emergencies. He pointed out how in quite a few of the pictures, a red helmet (Lt.) was on the nozzle, on the saw, on the tool, instead of a black helmet (FF). “Do you think that officer is able to effectively monitor his crew and conditions while doing these things? Don’t be that guy, it’s your job to keep them safe doing theirs.”

    Anyway, I was glad others approached me, as I didn’t know how green I really was.

  • Triple J says:

    This shows the value of a good Officer development program and a strong mentoring program. Making the transition from tailboard Firefighter to Company Officer can be easy for some, but often difficult for many. My department has a ride – up program where the Company Officers can let the Driver / Engineer ride in their spot and see how they do. We can give them good and instant feedback on how they are handling the added responsibilities. They are much better prepared when they go at it on their own.

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