Interview Question: Multiple Orders

interview firefighter bossQ: You are on the fire ground and your Lieutenant sends you to the engine to get an axe. While at the engine a chief officer approaches you and orders you to pull a hose line to the back of the house. What will you do?

The Strategy

This is basically a conflict question, however, it will put to the test your knowledge of the fire service and how we operate on the fire ground. If you have been around the fire service for any amount of time you know the importance of accountability. Most departments have some sort of accountability system in place at a fire scene. I advise candidates to tackle the question with this in mind. Also, keep in mind that fire scenes can be chaotic. The panel is also trying to see if you act insubordinate with the chief officer. I believe there is a tactful way to handle this situation and it all comes down to communication.


Well I must say that this is an uncomfortable position to be in as a new firefighter. First, let me say that I understand that a fire scene can be very chaotic and lots of things are happening quickly and need to get done ASAP. I imagine that this scenario is not unusual. The key here is to remember that we have accountability systems in place and accountability is paramount. With that being said I do not want to be insubordinate with my chief officer. I would simply tell the chief officer that I was sent to get an axe by my lieutenant and he/she is expecting that I bring it back soon. This statement should clue in the chief officer that I am trying to maintain accountability. This may not work and if it doesn’t I will use my portable radio to radio my lieutenant and tell them I have been reassigned by command. I will inform my Lieutenant that after I pull a hose line to the back of the house I will be in with the axe. Again this scenario is all about communication.