The process of leadership, especially during emergency situations, requires vast experience, good leadership skills, and the confidence to deal with the situation in the fairest way possible. Emergency management is about saving the lives of other people and ensuring that all those individuals, who may, in one way or another, be in danger, can be helped. The work of emergency managers, therefore, revolves around dealing with different kinds of emergency situations and securing the areas, so that those who are not yet on harm’s way may remain protected from an emergency that is not yet foreseen (Boin & Rhinard, 2008). There are several categories of emergencies that are normally handled by the people who are tasked with the responsibility of emergency management. The first category of these emergencies is life-threatening emergencies, which normally involve those incidents that pose a direct danger to human lives and can immediately cause death if it is not prevented from escalating. The life-threatening emergencies normally require the fastest and swiftest responses to enable those who are suffering or those who are likely to be the victims of this kind of an emergency to be helped as soon as possible. The leading example of a life-threatening emergency is a fire outbreak in a residential house. There are other examples, which include the collapse of buildings, the occurrence of natural disasters, like floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes among others (Buchanan, 2000).
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Apart from life-threatening emergencies, there are other categories of emergencies, which include those that pose a threat to the health of people, which include fire (burns), accidents, injuries, and diseases. There are also some emergencies that are a threat to the environment, such as wildfires, forest fires, heatwaves, etc. and those that pose a threat to the property, which include burning the business premises, and collapse of buildings, etc. All of these emergencies affect the lives of people and, therefore, require the intervention from all quarters. One significant point to note is that in all these categories of emergencies, fire is among most of the emergencies. It is, therefore, important to note that despite the changing face of emergency management, the role of the Fire Chief has just been advanced by these numerous emergencies that have kept on increasing. In this instance, therefore, it is important to note that the emergency managers must at all times be ready to deal with one of the major types of emergencies, which is likely to occur anytime and anywhere. This emergency is a fire.
From the foregoing, it is evident that fire is a part and parcel of emergency management and, therefore, Fire Chief is one of the most important players in emergency management. In this instance, it is, therefore, important to note that the Fire Chief should also be given the responsibility of the emergency management director since the two jobs are closely linked and effectiveness and efficiency in the emergency response process should be the center of command in the emergency response process (Buchanan, 2000).
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Traditional Responsibilities of the Fire Chief
The Fire Chief is the highest-ranking officer in the fire department and is the commanding officer for other fire officers or firemen working within the department. With his position, the Fire Chief is the man who is responsible for all the other firefighters who are, in turn, responsible for saving the lives of people, affected by fire incidents in the areas of their jurisdiction. This means that the Fire Chief is solely responsible for the actions of his men and, therefore, if anything goes wrong, he is the one who has to answer on their behalf (Klaene & Sanders, 2008).
The Fire Chief is responsible for the process of hiring, training, and equipping all fire officers to enable them to respond to the incidences of fire effectively. The Fire Chief, in this case, is the highest-ranking official who oversees the whole process of recruiting, as well as assessing the trained firemen, so as to ensure that they are qualified. The Fire Chief is also mandated to ensure that when fire officers are responding to an incident, they have all the protective clothing, as well as fire engines that are properly fuelled and have enough water to respond to fires.
Apart from ensuring that all officers’ areas ready for the tasks ahead the Fire Chief is also the commander of all firefighters during fire incidents. He is the one charged with providing directions to all the firemen, as well as ensuring that they make the right decisions that are in the best interest of the fire service, as well as member of the public whom they serve. The Fire Chief is a leader, who all the other people look up to. He is the one, who has the responsibility of keeping a city safe from raging fires, and this is a risky task, which he must carry out at all times (Klaene & Sanders, 2008).
Ordinarily, the Fire Chief has several people working in several ranks below him. These include the Assistant Fire Chiefs, Deputy Fire Chiefs, district chiefs and even Division Chiefs. All these people are involved in the work of emergency management. The Fire Chiefs can, in many cases, delegate duties these officers in the process of ensuring that all duties are performed, accordingly. Whenever there are the cases of fire nay of these officers may establish command and coordinate the scene of the incident until the chief arrives. Once the Chief arrives, then, as the highest-ranking officer on the scene, the officer who has been commanding may then hand over the command to the Fire Chief.
The fire department does not only respond to cases of fire, but there are also several other incidences that people from the fire department are always involved in. The firemen are normally trained on other essential lifesaving skills that area of great importance to the community. This means that firemen are not only skilled in extinguishing fires, but rather are skilled in other areas, including first aid, search and rescues, and diving, among other essential skills. All these skills are acquired by the firemen through their leader, the Fire Chief. This simply means that the Fire Chief is also not just skilled in fire rescue, but is also skilled in other areas of emergency response that are essential to the entire work of the emergency management.
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Roles of Emergency Management
Emergency management has several aspects that are of great significance to the entire process of saving lives and ensuring that all people who are in the affected area are able to get back on their feet after a catastrophic event. Emergency management is normally conducted on several occasions to deal with several events, which include:
Search and rescue; during serious emergencies, such as the collapse of buildings, fire outbreak, or flooding, one of the principle responsibilities that emergency managers are charged with is the process of search and rescue. Search and rescue normally entail looking for possible survivors, who are trapped in a confined space or diving into the water to save people who are drowning or, in some cases, gaining a raging inferno to save a person who is still alive but remains trapped within a building that is burning (McElreath et al., 2014). The key mandate of search and rescue is to ensure that saving people’s lives is a priority. Saving lives, in this case, entails getting most of the people who were affected by the disaster out of danger, while they are still alive. Search and rescue, therefore, involves the process of the rescuers, risking their lives for the sake of saving another person’s life, which, in this case, is a huge sacrifice.
Search and rescue may also involve the cases when people try to retrieve the victims of accidents just to find out whether or not there are any people who are still alive. In extreme circumstances, where saving lives is impossible, the emergency responders work towards ensuring that the bodies of the diseased area retrieved and given to family members for a proper send-off. Search and rescue does not only entail the process of saving people, but there are also services that save animals and other living things affected by various circumstances, although priority is normally given to human beings (Doss, Glover, Goza, &Wigginton, 2015).
The search and rescue process is normally conducted in a structured manner through a proper command structure. The rescue workers normally get specific directions from a team leader, who normally guides the operation to ensure that everything goes as it was planned. In emergency response and, specifically, in search and rescue, coordination among the actors is normally the key pillar for success; that is why, it is important to have one center of command so that all that is done by the rescuers is done by the rescuers, as directed by the command.
Another important function of emergency management is emergency medical service (EMS), which entails medical services that are supposed to be given to those who were affected by the emergency. The sole purpose of EMS is to provide immediate life support services so that all people who may be facing immediate danger of losing their lives or those who may be at risk of their heath deteriorating can be stabilized or saved before they are taken for advanced medical help in a medical facility (Coppola, 2006). EMS services include first aid, which is the basic and the most important medical service at any Emergency situation. The medics and the paramedics involved in medical response normally get directions from the people commanding the emergency response operations, so that they are aware of the best ways to respond to the emergency, as well as get to know where the casualty area is located for them to gain access and get to know how to handle a situation.
The Link between the Work of Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director
Globally, people who are always present in any emergency situation are the fire response teams, also known as the firefighters. The fire response services are always present in all types of disasters because some disasters, including natural disasters, like earthquakes, may have aftershock that may still cause fire. For instance, an earthquake may cause fire, as a result of oil spillage, busting of gas pipes or even electric faults. This simply means that for such unforeseen fires to be dealt with, the fire response teams must always be on standby in readiness for such eventualities. Firemen are always the most dedicated and most reliable people in dealing with such kinds of emergencies. Their work is based on their belief that they are responsible for the lives of millions of people in their respective towns.
The inclusion of emergency management roles as parts of the roles of the Fire Chief are thus in order. This means that the Fire Chief should be the emergency management directors. The Fire Chief, as a person experienced in various aspects of emergency management, should be the one charged with the responsibility of ensuring that emergency operations run smoothly. I believe that making the Fire Chief and emergency management director does not amount to dilution of his duties, but rather leads to making all the emergency response activities more coordinated and streamlined. During emergencies, there is normally command system that is used to ensure that all the people who are responding to the emergency are directed according so that there is no conflict among various organizations that are responding to an emergency.
Coordination in emergency response can only be made easy if there is one command structure that is led by one person – the Fire Chief. The Fire Chief is best suited for the task of commanding the Emergency Scene due to his valuable experience. To make the work easy for the Chief to do his job of controlling the an emergency scent, the Chief may delegate duties to other officers who are offering various services, including medical response services, security services, as well as different emergency organizations that offer humanitarian aid, such as Red Cross. Apart from commanding proving leadership in the emergency management scene, the Fire Chief is also responsible for ensuring that the Fire Response who he leads are well commanded.
One of the major challenges affecting emergency management is the duplication of tasks in the emergency management scenarios. In some scenarios, duplication comes as a result of complication among various agencies involved in the emergency management (Drabek & Hoetmer, 1991). In many cases, each and every organization would want to outdo one another in the efforts to compete for funding or other benefits that are likely to come from working in the emergency management situation. Having one known leaders in charge of emergency management can help the emergency managers and other people involved in the work of emergency management work to be able to work through a proper system that allows them to work towards one specific goal that is determined properly and officially.
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Having the Fire Chief as the EMD can also mean that the scope of his work is expanded. This is to say that the Fire Chief gets a wider scope of work, thereby being able to work more towards ensuring that all the emergency management related work is properly planned through proper work ethics. One of the most important ways of ensuring that emergency management is conducted properly is through stakeholder cooperation. This entails having all the people who are involved in emergency management to work together to ensure that proper planning and before and after an emergency is done to enable the emergency managers forecast and deal with all the challenges within the time required and also to be able to identify areas that need prompt action.
The work of the emergency management director that the Fire Chief is best suited and can further be demonstrated in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, especially during the response phase of the disaster when there is a massive confusion, as well as and there is a need for proper accessibility of the area, there are several activities that need special skills to be performed at the scene of the incident. Some of the most important duties that must be performed at the scene include directing traffic, clearing of roads, designation of areas to be used as medical facilities, selecting an incident command center, as well as ensuring there is smooth operation of activities within the scene of the incident. This kind of enormous task, therefore, calls for serious leadership ability, proper management skills, as well as the ability to make quick and accurate decisions that are likely to save lives and inspire confidence among workers and other people involved in the process of emergency management. The process of a person becoming a Fire Chief is long and requires one to be seriously qualified to be able to get the job. This means one must demonstrate the attributes listed above to be able to work as a Fire Chief. The emergency management director’s position requires these skills, and they can only be attained through a procedure that is not easy to achieve.
The work of the emergency director requires a person who is frequently involved in emergency management work and who has the feeling of what is involved in emergency management, someone who has the experience of dealing with emergencies of various kinds and no one is better suited than the Fire Chief. The work of the Fire Chief is the work which involves various aspects of disaster management, including disaster preparedness, fire inspection and prevention, as well as Emergency medical services makes him the most qualified and experienced person to hand all the issues, pertaining to emergency management. The Fire Chief has the resilience and the leadership experience needed to work in the emergency management situations more than other people who may be given the job.
To make the Fire Chief be able to function effectively in his role as the Fire Chief, as well as the emergency management director, the job description of the Fire Chief should be very clear with specific reference to the command structure. The Fire Chief should have a proper jurisdiction on how and where to perform his duty. The Fire Chief should also be enabled to work closely with other emergency management experts who should understand his dual role, as well as respect his position, both as the Fire Chief and as the EMD. The Fire Chief should make his work easier by delegating, giving direction, as well as proving leadership to other people involved in the emergency management. He should also be open to consultation with other relevant departments that work in other fields related to emergency management, including health, building and construction, social services, and meteorological department, among others.
In conclusion, emergency management requires a lot of work going into the preparation and implementation of emergency management plans. Leadership in the process of emergency management is crucial in ensuring that all the duties that should be performed with regard to saving lives and dealing with the emergency situation. The leadership, in this case, requires vast experiences that come with long services in a leadership position in the field of emergency management. The emergency management director should, therefore, be the person who has worked in the field of emergency management and who understands the pressure that one faces when working in such conditions. The Fire Chief is, therefore, the most suitable candidate for the EMD post. The complex nature of emergencies in the 21th century requires a lot of experience in emergency management, something that most people working in the fire services have. Emergency management also requires a lot of knowledge in disaster management, which is synonymous with emergency management. The role of the EMD requires a lot of stakeholder involvement, and networking, which requires one to be always in contact with people interested in emergency management. Disaster management also requires proper coordination of agencies in disaster scenarios (Matthews & Feather, 2003). The ability of the Fire Chief to provide proper command through an established command structure makes him the most experienced person to be the emergency management director. There is also the need for single established command structure that should help the people involved in the emergency management to get the proper direction under one leadership, a leadership that should come from the experienced Fire Chief.