Perform a web search on "fire officer development" and you'll quickly see how a new company officer can become overwhelmed and confused in planning the next steps of his or her career path. Nine conferences are listed on the IAFC website, along with position-focused programs such as the Company Officer Leadership Symposium, the Chief Officer Leadership Symposium and the Executive Chief Officer Leadership Symposium.
The National Fire Academy offers the Executive Fire Officer program; other fire service organizations offer national and regional conferences as well as a variety of credentialing programs. Flip through any one of the many trade magazines and you'll find ads for two-year and four-year degree programs that let you attend classes online, in a traditional brick and mortar setting or a combination of both.
The options for career development may seem endless, but it isn't necessary to travel the road alone. The IAFC recently launched its new mentoring program specifically designed to help company officers navigate the murky waters of career development.
The program is designed to be simple and user friendly. A number of IAFC members representing career, combination and volunteer organizations have stepped forward to provide advice and guidance to company officers looking for help in planning their path to that fifth bugle.
The mentoring program is unique in that the company officer can review the mentors' bios and identify someone who shares the interests and experiences that relate to his or her own situation. Perhaps the most valuable part of the mentorship program is that it makes professional development a two-way street.
The company officer will receive advice based on real-life experience and eliminate the need for recreating the wheel. The mentor will gain insight about current perspectives of today’s company officers. Together, both individuals will have the opportunity to grow personally and professionally.