4 mins read

Well, this is always a hot topic. Right?

Who should be promoted, when they should be promoted, and if they should be promoted. Depending on what time of the year it is, its always a conversation happening in a firehouse.

Not only is it always a conversation, there are a lot of strong opinions surrounding this subject. To complicate it even further, it seems that the volunteer promotional system is completely different than the career promotional systems that are out there. However, I do believe both of these systems have one thing in common.

They are extremely flawed.

Flawed to the point where the fire service is hurting itself by consistently promoting people that are not trained, qualified, or interested in serving in the capacity required to run a fire crew and station effectively. 

Look, the system is broken.

The guys and girls that aren’t good test takers don’t get promoted. The ones that are, do. The guys and girls that aren’t popular don’t get promoted. The ones that are, do. Is it like this everywhere?

No, probably not.

I would love to say that there is a fire department out there doing it right or making an effort to do it better. Maybe the system is not broken and I just have a broken perspective? Shift it for me. Offer me some feedback and I’ll take it.

It just doesn’t seem to be that way. Whatever the case, we need some good people in these positions. 

We need men and women in these leadership positions that want to lead well, serve others, and are willing to be held accountable. We need men and women who were good firefighters who are ready to step into these leadership positions and take on the challenge. Men and women who care about the job, their crew, and the community they serve.

We don’t need men and women who need a raise, to escape the box, or who have no ambition to lead other than they want a position over actually putting in the work. We really need men and women who know they have something to offer in these positions and are willing to learn and lead their fire crew where they need to go. 

We could make a thousand excuses and talk about this broken system of promotions forever; right?

We’re great at bitching about shit, coming up with a solution, and then not implementing it.

Long term solution? I have my own theories and I’m sure the comments will be full of good ones. Short term solution? Lead yourself right where you are if you want to lead other people.

Prove yourself a leader.

Not to others, to yourself. Lead without a position or a title. Do it now before you are thinking about a promotion. If you are not doing it now or have never done it, how do you expect to lead well when you do get promoted someday?

That’s rhetorical, don’t answer that…

That question answers itself.

This article was written by Joshua Chase of Jump Seat Leadership – Go see his book!

Josh Chase is a fire Lieutenant with Norfolk Fire Rescue, and is a 17 year veteran of the fire service. He has a passion for leadership and strengthening firefighters to lead at the informal level. Josh is also the recipient of the Fire Service Medal of Honor which he received in 2019 after rescuing a child from a two alarm apartment fire.

Josh has authored a couple of books with his latest book being Jump Seat Leadership: The guide to informal leadership in the fire service. He believes in leading yourself before leading others and that you do not need a bugle to lead in the fire service.

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