Through the ranks


It must be promotion season because they’re popping up everywhere. There are several that I’m aware of with more pending. There are a couple I’ll share with ya along with a retirement.

Promotions can go either way. Sometimes they work out well … other times not so much. I guess it all depends on the position, the process and the person. Sadly, a lot of times; we see people promoted to a position for the wrong reasons and that most always sets the stage for failure.

Whether or not a newly promoted member has (or should have)  “come through the ranks” has always been a highly debated topic in the firehouse (especially when the promotion is to an Officer or Chief Officer position). Personally, I give a lot of merit to those who have.

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It just seems simple to me. Coming through the ranks allows you to learn and become proficient at each level you’ll soon be expected to supervise or manage. I think it would be difficult for a Chief Officer to set and enforce policy and procedures for firefighters if they’ve never been one themselves. If they’ve never worked as a firefighter, as a Driver / Operator, a Lieutenant, Captain or Battalion Chief. If they’ve never worked in a firehouse, pulled 24 hour shifts, missed Christmas, ball games etc. How could they understand those they intend to lead? I could (and may) be wrong here. I once had a Chief of Department tell me that the pilot of a 747 Jetliner never had to load the luggage to become a good pilot. His point was true  I guess but I’d argue that had that pilot loaded luggage at some point, then he would understand that how the luggage is loaded has a direct bearing on weight distribution and how the plane will or will not handle / fly. He would also better understand what the people working with and around him has to deal with on a daily basis. In my opinion, it would have made him a better pilot.

Anyway, the promotions I’m gonna tell ya about did move through the ranks and I’m excited to see how they handle their new positions. I know they have the experience and skills. I’m sure they’ll do well.

I was very excited to learn that Mark Akins made Battalion Chief last week. It’s been 34 years in the making!

Mark works for the John’s Creek Fire Department , just outside of Atlanta, Ga.

John’s Creek is a fairly new Department having been established in 2008.

They have 3 stations staffed with approximately 78 firefighters. Learn more about the Johns Creek fire stations HERE .

Johns Creek has some GREAT members and is sure to grow. I can say that because I’ve had the honor of meeting a few of them, including their Chief Jeff Hogan.

Rhett and I were in Atlanta back in August 2011 to attend Fire rescue International.

It was a great trip that included a 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

That’s where we first met Mark (then a Captain) and his A-Shift crew from Station #63.

Mark was a loyal fan and follower or both Ironfiremen and  He read that we were planning the trip and invited us out to meet and share a meal with him and his crew. To Rhett and me, just the invite screams PRIDE.

Mark had so much Pride in his Company and Department that he wanted to share it with us. It was a great visit and it was easy to see from the moment we walked in the door that these brothers “got it”.

Read more about our visit by clicking HERE

An additional post on Atlanta & Johns Creek HERE

Congratulations to the Johns Creek Fire Department and all it’s members. You just got yourself a great Battalion Chief. Congratulations as well to Chief Akins!!! All the hard work and effort has paid off Brother. Sometimes, the “good guys” do finish first. Well EARNED and DESERVED Brother …. keep up the strong work and look after the boys down there.

Ok, so the next promotion is in a Department closer to home for me and involves another member who has worked through the ranks.

The Roanoke Fire / EMS Department (Va) announced last week that Battalion Chief Jeff Beckner will be promoted to the position of Deputy Chief of Operations.

Roanoke Fire/EMS is located in beautiful Southwestern Virginia. They cover approx. 43 square miles protected by 11 stations and 200+ members. They hold an ISO rating of 2.

Roanoke Fire/EMS web site

Roanoke Fire / EMS on Face Book

I know Chief Beckner personally as well. I’ve known him for years actually. I know he worked through the ranks and has been well respected by the members of the Roanoke Fire Department throughout his career. Chief Beckner has close to 30 years on the job having served most recently as an Operations Battalion Chief on the South Battalion.

Jeff (Chief Beckner) has always been a strong leader. As a Captain, he always built strong companies. He carried that ability / trait with him to the level of BC and built strong Battalions as well. Hopefully, he will continue the trend as Deputy Chief and build an even stronger Department. I’m sure he will and look forward to seeing the progress he makes.

CONGRATULATIONS to Chief Jeff Beckner on his promotion to Deputy Chief of Operations!

I happen to know a little of the inside story on the Roanoke promotions. Because of Chief Beckners bump to Deputy, several more promotions are likely to follow. There seems to be at least 2 Battalion positions open, 4-5 Captains and then some 1st. Lt and Lieutenant positions open to fill as well. Why all the promotions ??? Retirement.

Battalion Chief Manual retired from the Training Division and Deputy Chief Ralph Tartaglia is retiring as Deputy Chief of Operations after 37 years of service.

Yea … 37 years!

Chief Tartaglia also worked his way through the ranks and has served as the Deputy of Operations for 2 Chiefs now.

Like Chiefs Akins and Beckner, I know Chief Tartaglia well. He’s often said that if he ever needed a letter of recommendation written that I would be the first person he came to. He said that because he has read a lot of letters that I’ve written throughout my career. That’s both a good and bad thing…. LOL.

A local news station did a small piece on Chief Tartaglia’s retirement … watch it below ….

WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

For those wondering, Rhett (The Fire Critic) and I both tested from promotion within our Department. Rhett tested for 1st Lt and Captain while I tested again for Battalion. Rhett is ranked somewhere in the middle of his lists and I haven’t received my results as of yet.

In my opinion, our process is somewhat flawed but I’ll post more on that in the future. Until then, CONGRATULATIONS to Chief Akins and Beckner on their promotions. Im back on duty tomorrow and then headed to New York for a Chief’c Convention on Wednesday. I’ll get back to ya as soon as possible but until I do …

Stay SAFE and in HOUSE!

Captain Wines