As a fire service officer your leadership skills will be critical to your success in your career. One of those skills being communication. As you begin your firefighter promotional exam prep, don’t forget to also work on leadership skills such as communication to make the most of your new position.
The most common workplace communication skill that must be mastered is verbal. This is exactly as it sounds, talking to your co-workers both above and below you in rank. This also includes public speaking, because the higher your rank the more common public speaking will become. You must be able to speak clearly and effectively, this is critical in emergency situations but also is key to you getting promoted in the first place. In the assessment center portion of the firefighter promotion process you will be acting as whatever rank you are applying for and will be observed working that job. One important thing that your superior officers will be watching for is your ability to effectively communicate with your team. In addition, when you come in for your oral interview you must be able to talk about yourself and answer questions. You do not want to mumble or drag the conversation out. You want to speak precisely and confidently to get the job and go on and lead in your new rank.
Another important form of communication is nonverbal communication. You, as a leader, need to be able to read the body language and physical cues of other people such as your crew but also strangers on the scene of an incident. It is your job to keep your community safe and sometimes members of the community may not be able to speak and tell you what is wrong, for example young children or someone in distress. You need to use your best observational skills to interpret what is going on without words using things such as facial expressions, gestures, eye contact, and so on. Nonverbal communication skills can be critical to helping those in need. In addition they can be beneficial when testing for promotion. Look at your testers/interviewers faces and body language to judge if you are doing what they like or need to change course. You need to be able to communicate and interpret beyond words if you want to be successful as an officer.
The last form of communication you should be skilled at if you want to promote in the fire service is written communication. As a ranking officer you will be required to do more administrative work and more email communications with people. You need to be able to come across as professional in your written communications. You need to use correct grammar and spelling and communicate just as clearly as you would in person. You also want to be sure you are just as attentive in your written communication as you are in your face to face, verbal conversations. Don’t leave people waiting around to hear back from you because you aren’t attending to your inbox as much as you should. Emails are not the only form of written communication, you want to be skilled when it comes to writing reports, proposals, employee evaluations and so on. You must be able to communicate clearly in the various written forms that will be required of you if you get promoted, starting with your application to promote.
If you want to be promoted in the fire service you will need to have skills outside of just being a good firefighter. Some skills you will learn on the job but if you want to be promoted in the fire service you need to work on your own time to be sure you have the skills to get the job and keep it.