Fire Services: Leadership in the Fire Services - Follow-up

January 23, 2019


As a follow-up to our previous newsletter about Leadership in the Fire Services, we are committed to continue working to build Volunteer Fire Departments, reduce liability, and improve reporting requirements in order to reduce stressors for Fire Chiefs and Elected Officials.

FNESS has been an excellent knowledge source on the above topics and will continue to support all communities in the Province with our current and future programs.

Going forward, we will focus on the leadership portion while adding in a few pieces to support departments and teams.  Last month’s article focused on how the Fire Chief communicated information to his/her team to success.  The next step is to develop a strategy for Division of Labour.

Division of labour is part of the Incident Command System (ICS) during emergency situations. It allows the team leads to reflect and focus on other tasks that may need priority attention during emergencies. Not every ‘day to day’ task needs to be classified as an emergency, but we can utilize the training and information to streamline our current situations and improve our goals with the ability to still be in control of the team and the scene as a whole.

A key piece built into the Division of Labour structure “Span of Control”.  The leader’s span of control should be limited to three to seven people reporting at once (five being the optimal).  This number ensure that the leader can effectively process all incoming information.

The diagram below indicates that the manager will receive information from the next three people in line and oversee all five people on the team.  Division of labour in this format allows the manager the ability to stay task-oriented and accomplish more work.


Our inability within Fire Departments to recognize that we need help to accomplish our goals is not unique because we share a commonality in the Fire Services as “Doers” and “Problem Solvers” that could sometimes limit effectiveness.   Fire Service Department leaders need to recognize that everyone can use some help to make it to the finish line.
Kindness, Respect, and Empowerment are three key words that great leaders use as a cornerstone to establish successful departments capable of reaching lofty goals.

Take Pride and Ownership in the Department and Team you work with to achieve these great goals and work together to manage the large workload you may have in front of you.
Fire Chief Rick Lasky (retired) Pride and ownership in the Fire services Courtesy of youtube

FNESS Fire Services looks forward to continuing to support you and your department through education and safe training.

Stay safe

Kynan O’Rourke
FNESS Fire Service Manager