How to Harness Your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities When Preparing for a Promotion

By Anthony Kastros

Job Analysis Questionnaire

Learn More About Fire Science Degrees Learn More About Fire Science DegreesA job analysis questionnaire (JAQ) is often used to gather information about a specific position. The information is used to create exams for officers who are up for promotion into that position. The JAQ seeks to understand the required knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) to do the job correctly.  Each KSA will be rated as to whether it’s required on the first day on the job or learned later.

Typically, KSAs fall under one of three dimensions: leadership, management and emergency operations. Leadership is about people, management is about things and emergency operations are where the two come together. Here are some examples:


  • Ability to inspire action
  • Conflict resolution
  • Oral communication
  • Written communication


  • Budgeting
  • Multi-tasking
  • Time management
  • Planning

Emergency Operations

  • Ability to size up an incident
  • Deployment of resources
  • Establish clearly defined objectives
  • Use of the incident command system

These are just some of the KSAs required for the modern company and chief officer. These skills must be developed over time. Conduct your own JAQ with respected incumbent members of your fire department to zero in on the KSAs for the job you seek.

How to Develop KSAs

Think of preparing for a promotion like you train for a marathon. You would not wait until the last minute to prepare!

Developing KSAs is like developing endurance or strength conditioning for the marathon. It takes a lot of time and effort. As you break down the list of KSAs in the three dimensions of leadership, management and emergency operations, develop a list of resources and opportunities to hone your skills.

For example, ride along with a respected mentor. If your company officer is a great role model, ask to sit in the seat while he/she mentors you on the job. There’s nothing like actual hands-on experience for learning.

Check out workshops, classes, conferences, articles, videos and other opportunities to shore up your KSAs.  The same should apply for engineer or even entry level firefighter. Get exposed as much as possible!

Chief officer candidates often succumb to the common pitfall of acting like company officers during their promotional testing phase.  Many experienced company officers find it difficult to make the transition into chief officer. To combat this ahead of time, spend time with your chiefs to understand their ways of thinking and common issues facing them.

In summary, all ranks in the fire department are unique. You must study the KSAs of the position you seek and practice them over time to ensure success in promotion.

Bio: Anthony Kasatros is a 29-year veteran of the fire service. He is author of the Fire Engineering/Pennwell book and video series "Mastering the Fire Service Assessment Center" and video series "Mastering Fireground Command - Calming the Chaos!" Chief Kastros was the Keynote Speaker for FDIC International 2013.