Commentary: GFO Need Not Apply

There are three different personalities of those who “teach fire”. Some who do it let their actions on the fireground and in the burn building speak for themselves. They keep their philosophy to themselves. Others have the actions mastered, yet when they speak they show an ignorance and arrogance towards the changing firefighter culture. The third group is able to not only “teach fire” but to present themselves in an educated way that leaves the student knowing “this guy knows what he is talking about, and more.” Andy Fredericks was one of those.
Ray McCormack is one also.

The following is posted courtesy of Ray McCormack and The Housewatch.

“GFO Need Not Apply”…
By Ray McCormack, FDNY

EFO stands for Executive Fire Officer. Those three little letters at the end of an officer’s name say that you have successfully complete the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer program. The only place the program is offered is in Emmittsburg, Maryland. The course requires diligence, hard work, and several years to complete. Most titles in the fire service precede the surname such as Private, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, and Chief so EFO definitely stands out. EFO is held in high regard and only a small portion of the fire service lays claim to it.

GFO stands for Ghetto Fire Officer. Those three little letters do not appear at the end of any officer’s name even when they have shown due diligence and hard work for many years. The reason they do not appear is that there is no formal program to back it up. It is only accredited by those who know the officer and his accomplishments. Accreditation programs are not based on real world experience; they are based on term papers and exams.

It looks like the fire service is getting its collective snob face on; have we moved into a place where we only value degrees and letters; turning up our noses at the lingering smell of smoke? How much value do we place on actual “job” experience? And by job, I’m meaning a fire. The fire service, once a bastion of blue collar and some college, has gone main stream. Yes, we’re finally like everyone else. Degrees trump experience, Congratulations!

Anyone who works hard should be rewarded. However when the job is that of a “FIRE” Chief, careful consideration of the whole resume is a must. This is the most sacred of positions. Many Chiefs’ jobs fall in favor of school experience and that’s fine for training chiefs, but not for line officers.

Maybe we can’t blame the hiring committee for being impressed by letters and degrees. Please impress us with your management, people, communication, and feel good skills; and make sure you have the papers to prove it they say. Letters and accreditation are easy to understand and evaluate; it’s just too bad that the down and dirty officer doesn’t get letters at the end of his name. We in the fire service should applaud actual experience when it comes to selecting a “FIRE” Chief, so that these three little letters stand their best chance of happening: EGH

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