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Scandinavian comparison of selection and training of incident commanders in the fire fighting sectors

Morten Sommer, MSc, Ove Njå, PhD

Abstract


This article presents findings from a study designed to analyze the selection process and formalized training of incident commanders for fire fighting services in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. On the basis of a survey covering all fire services in the three countries and participant observations of commander education from a fire academy in each of the three countries, similarities and differences have been explored. Our main finding is that the similarities between the three countries are greater than the differences. As a general rule, individuals have many years of experience from the fire department through rising from fire fighter through all the ranks until their appointment as incident commander. There are two distinct career paths to the incident commander position. The first path is very practically oriented and the required reading is undemanding. The other path is more academic, for personnel holding a bachelor’s degree in fire engineering. In Sweden, engineers follow a comprehensive commander education, which Norway and Denmark could possibly benefit from. In addition, Sweden provides incident commanders with thorough technical/professional knowledge. Response coordination is given major emphasis in the education at highest level, but transfer of command is not a prioritized topic.

Keywords


incident command, selection, training, fire fighting

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5055/jem.2010.0013

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