Coaching and Mentoring

Advanced Firefighters are viewed as experienced and skilled members of the crew by less experienced and less skilled newer members.

There will be many opportunities to coach and mentor newer members. A newer member is typically quite willing to be guided and advised by someone with experience.

You are also responsible for your role in the team to help ensure that the team meets the required performance standards. This means that sometimes you will be acting as a mentor or coach to other team members in meeting objectives and goals.

While there are many definitions of coaching and mentoring, it is generally agreed that:

  • Coaching is to guide and encourage less experienced members through finer points of a task
  • Mentoring is a process of informal transmission of knowledge

Coaching and mentoring are about giving people confidence as they achieve competence.

Ideally, it is best to create learning opportunities throughout practical activities as well as providing examples of experience.

Important things to remember are:

  • Be patient
  • Ensure the information you provide is current and correct
  • Encourage members to think ahead to what might happen
  • Explain your actions during training and during routine activities

If you see that someone is having difficulties, is uncertain of what they are doing or has misunderstood the task, you should take the initiative to help them out through coaching and mentoring. This is not the same as being a trainer or an assessor. You will not be expected to conduct training sessions, as such, for firefighters. However, you will be expected to guide and encourage less experienced firefighters through the finer points of what they are doing. For example, you might not be asked to train members in pumps and pumping, but you can show a trainee a specific task within that training, such as how to operate a particular pump primer. You might also be asked to monitor a trainee while they practice operating a pump and mentor them through any problems they might encounter.


Advanced Firefighters are viewed as experienced and skilled members of the crew by less experienced and less skilled newer members.

There will be many opportunities to coach and mentor newer members. A newer member is typically quite willing to be guided and advised by someone with experience.

You are also responsible for your role in the team to help ensure that the team meets the required performance standards. This means that sometimes you will be acting as a mentor or coach to other team members in meeting objectives and goals.

While there are many definitions of coaching and mentoring, it is generally agreed that:

  • Coaching is to guide and encourage less experienced members through finer points of a task
  • Mentoring is a process of informal transmission of knowledge

Coaching and mentoring are about giving people confidence as they achieve competence.

Ideally, it is best to create learning opportunities throughout practical activities as well as providing examples of experience.

Important things to remember are:

  • Be patient
  • Ensure the information you provide is current and correct
  • Encourage members to think ahead to what might happen
  • Explain your actions during training and during routine activities

If you see that someone is having difficulties, is uncertain of what they are doing or has misunderstood the task, you should take the initiative to help them out through coaching and mentoring. This is not the same as being a trainer or an assessor. You will not be expected to conduct training sessions, as such, for firefighters. However, you will be expected to guide and encourage less experienced firefighters through the finer points of what they are doing. For example, you might not be asked to train members in pumps and pumping, but you can show a trainee a specific task within that training, such as how to operate a particular pump primer. You might also be asked to monitor a trainee while they practice operating a pump and mentor them through any problems they might encounter.

Every member that you work with will have different levels of experience or capability. In a high pressure environment, it is very easy to slip into behaviour that could compromise your whole team. Rather than being critical of a person, if the time is available, take that time to show them how something should be done. Also, people often learn more effectively by doing that task, so if you choose to just do the task for them, they will not learn and the team will be less effective.

Ensure that what you tell people is correct. Lots of fireground myths (some of them dangerous), start because someone gives a false or imprecise reply to a question, rather than admit they aren’t sure and need to check the answer. Other members will generally follow what you do, rather than what you say.

Always ensure that what you do is a model of good, safe working practice.

Understanding key aspects of successful coaching will help you to help your team members in ways that are best for them. Some helpful things to remember while coaching and mentoring are:

  • Set high expectations of performance
  • Offer challenging ideas
  • Help build self confidence
  • Encourage professional behaviour
  • Confront issues
  • Teach by example
  • Offer support and encouragement
  • Encourage self awareness
  • Share knowledge
  • Build rapport and trust
  • Take an interest in a person's career development

Always take the opportunity to acknowledge an example of a recent success, no matter how big or small.