Crew Commanders must adhere to the four foundational qualities of being “capable, credible consistent and committed” New South Wales inspector Jeremy Fewtrell said at this year’s IFE Conference.
He said that crew commanders have the “greatest influence on firefighter safety” and have the “most critical rank” as they ensure the safety of firefighters and must be able to command effectively.
The four foundational qualities take time to develop, however.
He described the four foundational qualities as:

  • Capable –  firefighters must have passed requisite assessments. They must be a capable firefighter, as that breeds confidence in the crew. They must be dedicated and they must be used to dealing with incomplete information on the fireground. They  must also see their role as one of development, not just command.
  • Credibility – double standards undermines authority (whether “perceived or real”). Firefighters who have that road to Damascus moment – ie; firefighters who suddenly become reinvigorated and enthusiastic after being disengaged, this can be a credibility liability. If this is the case they should acknowledge and address it to ensure crews get behind the commander. Ideally, this should be addressed earlier in their career.
  • Consistency – A consistent approach is stabilising. They should ensure they are not caught out by a routine call, and they should be influential in developing a culture of safety and professionalism. They should embrace training and be consistent in their decision making process.
  • Commitment – They should have personal interactions with firefighters, as this fosters a sense of trust. They should also have knowledge of firefighters personal situations as this can reinforce the cohesiveness of the team.

Mr Fewtrell said that crews will “size up” new crew commanders in the same way that they size up a fire. And if they can’t, they will look to “get the background on this person.”

He also added that following the four foundational qualities is especially crucial for ‘Generation Y’ firefighters.