There is a burden of responsibility that lay upon the fire officer. The burden not only includes the public served, but also the men and women in which he or she leads. It’s a silent burden and not one taken lightly. It rides the back of every true leader who has ever, shoulder-to-shoulder, guided his crew into any form of battle.
“A good leader takes a little more than his share of the blame, a little less than his share of the credit.” -A. Glasow
As impressionable young firefighters, they are often molded to think of the worst possible outcome of the scenario first. We hear the dispatch and go straight to S.H.T.F mode in our heads, usually leading us to be pleasantly surprised by a much better outcome once we arrive on the scene. The weight of decision-making, crew safety, public safety, the families of the crewmembers relying on your intuition to bring ensure everyone goes home safe is stressful… VERY STRESSFUL.
As was oh so gently explained to me many years ago, “That is true. But you’re the guy, who else is going keep those worst-case scenarios in mind when the crew is working on the fire ground or the rescue scene. If you’re not thinking about them, nobody else might be. The scenarios do seem to be endless and what sucks is that its always the ones you don’t anticipate happening that catch you off guard.”
So this is where our experience comes into account, and our confidence from training begins to allow us to lead without wincing at what could happen. Trust in the leaders that were there before you. Take criticism in a form of a helping hand.
Some folks relish under the stress of responsibility. The fire officer level of responsibility is heavy. It can crush you, or you can pick it up, excel at your job and ask for another assignment. In an article called “Junkyard Dog” It was discussed the passion, drive and “get sh*t done” firefighter mentality that drives the physical work of the fire service no matter the scene. As a new officer, I have to maintain the junkyard mentality and remain a leader. Keep pushing the crew to complete objectives, keep a “working supervisor” attitude, and hold onto that junkyard mentality going forward, safely bringing the crew and myself home.
Train for muscle memory.
Push the crew to be better.
Train and work side by side with the crew.