As a company officer, have you asked yourself where to next? Is my next promotion taking me to the fire-prevention office or the training division? What have I done to prepare myself for these duties?
This profession is more than a job; it's a career. You can and should be working on a plan to help you succeed. One tool you can use is the IAFC Officer Development Handbook. It provides officers with the education and experience requirements for different levels in the fire service.
Another resource offered by the IAFC is its mentoring program just for company officers. You’ll be paired with a chief officer who'll provide guidance on education and training that will help make you a better candidate for your next promotion.
You can also find direction within your own department. Sit down with fire-prevention officers and ask about any special requirements the division requires. Are there any special projects you can help them with? Are there any community risk-reduction programs you can participate in?
Find out about the organizations and associations they belong to. Ask to go to a meeting with them; this is a great way to network.
Work with the training division on company-level drills and offer assistance with larger training drills. Maybe you attended a class at your local academy and found some new forcible entry techniques that could benefit your department; offer to train the other members.
Make an appointment with your chief, who's probably the best person to help you with your future other than yourself. Ask your chief what they are looking for in a leader, where they see the department in the future, how you fit into the plans, what challenges are ahead and how you can be a resource to help overcome those challenges.
Introducing yourself to all aspects of your department will help you craft a professional-development plan that works for you. Most leaders in the fire service didn’t get there by accident. They spent countless hours acquiring the skills and knowledge to hold that position.
We all have someone we admire in the fire service; reach out to them and ask for advice. Good leaders are always willing to share. It’s your future. Take advantage of the opportunities around you.
For more information on company officer professional development, visit the IAFC's company officer webpage.