The senior man has been in the fire house since the dawn of fire. The senior man is the unofficial leader of the crew. The senior man is the go between when discussions are difficult with the company officer and enforcer of the fire house culture. There is nothing the senior man cannot do. They are respected, confident, feared and trusted amongst the company officer and crew.
Since we can all agree that a great senior man will set you up for success, its obvious a poor or non-existent senior man will do the opposite.
Why do we not identify and develop capable firefighters to this crucial identity within the firehouse?
Listed below are what I believe to be reasons why; (in no order of importance)
â€¢ Lack of identification- The crew, company officer and organization simply do not know the importance of the position. No one has been exposed to the importance of it and simply cannot foresee it.
â€¢ Company Officer distrust- The company officer is insecure in their role and abilities to trust another member with responsibility.
â€¢ Lack of support- chief officers and company officers like the idea of delegation but do not release the authority to complete the tasks. However the support has to be there for them to complete the delegated task. Everyone has to know that the senior man is in charge and what they say goes.
â€¢ No one wants it- it seems that in todayâ€™s fire service being a back-step or wheel man is not glamourous. It seems that firefighters finish rookie school and start working on being an officer without QUALITY time in the back-step seat.
Now that we have identified a few issues. Lets address the solutions. Again, listed below in no particular order.
â€¢ Reflect on yourself- As the company officer or chief officer are you doing the best you can?
â€¢ Personally invest in your people- Show them that you care, show that youâ€™re disappointed, show them exactly what you want them to do. Share your organizational thoughts and ensure that they have the similar values.
â€¢ Be consistent- donâ€™t be a â€œspin wheel of emotionsâ€ type of company officer. We all have bad days and everybody is having a rough go of it. Leave it at home, and be the company officer that you should be EVERYDAY!
â€¢ Trust your people- I cannot express how inconsistent most company officers and chief officers are. If you trust your people to make life and death decisions every day and drive million dollar fire trucks down the road, then trust that they are here for the right reason.
(You hired them) If they arenâ€™t, MOVE THEM ON!
â€¢ Be the boss- Everything is your fault, as the company officer itâ€™s always going to be your fault. The sooner you accept that fact, the more enjoyable your job you will be.
Will you start today and try to save the SENIOR MAN? Develop your people and invest in the future of the fire service. If you donâ€™t like it, change it. Who is going to step up and take on the role? Will you set up your organization for success and develop your people to this crucial role? If not you then who?
-Batt. Chief Adam Neff
Sr. Staff Correspondent
Hooks & Hooligans
Pictured is Captain Arthur Ashely and his Senior Man Paddy Boggs
(Posted with permission)