New GFFR lieutenants promotion ceremony, assistant chief announcement planned next week

Great Falls Fire Rescue is celebrating the promotion of eight lieutenants next week and is in the process of hiring new rookies.

The department is also in the process of appointing a new assistant chief since Ron Scott retired at the end of December. GFFR Chief Steve Hester said he expects to announce his selection on Feb. 2.

Depending on who he selects, that could create some other movement within the department which will determine whether the next rookie class is three or four candidates.

The firefighters being promoted to lieutenant are Jerry Pospisil, Mike Pancich, Trevor Johnson, Spencer Swingley, Jerry Lyons, Bryan Painter, Troy Weir and Nate Schmidt.

The lieutenant position was created last year and approved by the City Commission in the firefighter labor agreement.

Firefighter labor agreement up for commission vote

Lieutenants fall between engineer and captain in the evolving rank structure at GFFR.

Fire Chief Steve Hester said that the promotions were competitive like other promotions within the department.

Hester said the department had acting captains, but they weren’t getting enough time in an acting capacity to gain practical command experience before moving up to captain.

Final decision on fire engine donation to Neihart set for Tuesday

“We can teach knowledge, we can teach skills, but we can’t teach experience,” Hester said.

Lieutenant duties include managing programs and projects delegated to them from captains and battalion chiefs, serving as the acting captain, acting as an officer in charge of additional apparatus should they be needed for disasters, special events or other times the department deems it necessary.

New engines rolling at Great Falls Fire Rescue

The lieutenant position is common in the fire service and other departments in Montana have the position in their rank structure. Those in the lieutenant positions would be the only members assigned to these duties in the absence of a captain, allowing for more direct experience and training prior to promotion.

The move also saves the city from spending on acting captain pay and under the current system, all of the acting captains are eligible to take the promotion test. That also makes preparing, testing and selecting new officers difficult.

The new lieutenant position will limit the pool of firefighter eligible to take the captain promotion test to eight people, allowing senior officers to focus their attention on training and preparing them and be better able to evaluate the lieutenants performance.

The promotion ceremony is Jan. 31 at 4 p.m. at Station 1, 105 9th St. S. The public is invited.