2 7 t h   A n n u a l   F i r e   D e p a r t m e n t   I n f o r m a t i o n   C o n f e r e n c e 



June 7th - 9th 2024, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

keynote address

“The Qualities of a Good Incident Commander ”

Daniel Sheridan

Battalion Chief

3rd Battalion, FDNY

New York, New York 

Saturday Morning Following the Opening Ceremonies -  Atlantic Festival Theater - Wolfville


The Qualities of a Good Incident Commander

Being the Incident Commander at a working fire can be daunting to say the least. As we move up the ranks our field of vision gets bigger and bigger. When we are firefighters, we are usually just looking out for ourselves, our focus is limited and we concentrate at the task at hand. A pump operator generally has one job, find a good position and get water into the hoseline ASAP. When we take that promotion to Lieutenant/Captain, our field of vision on the fireground increases. We now are responsible for the members in our unit.  Our focus becomes on how our actions as a team will affect the outcome. An engine company is tasked with getting the hoseline in operation and extinguishing the fire. The officer is the point of contact for the unit and is responsible for; proper positioning, getting water in the hoseline, stretching the line in the most efficient manner and ultimately extinguishing the fire.

At a working fire in my department, you will have a minimum of eight units to supervise. On the transmittal of a full working fire, the IC will get another Battalion Chief to help shoulder the load of supervision. Normal span of control is 3-7 with 5 being ideal. The Incident Commander, or in my case the Battalion Chief needs to be responsible for the whole operation. Our talk today will discuss the tools that a good incident commander can use to help him/her become successful. Just as a good nozzle firefighter depends on his nozzle to be fully functioning or a roof firefighter depending on his/her saw to perform. The Incident Commander can use these 16 qualities to help him/ her run a smooth, safe operation. 

We will discuss Setting Priorities, Giving Direction, Supporting Rules and Regulations and Seeing the Big Picture to name a few. When I was working as an Operations Chief on a Wildland Fire in August of 2005 with the FDNY IMT I was privileged to meet and work with an IC from a Type 1  IMT. He gave me a handwritten piece of paper which I would laminate and keep in my pocket.


Dan has been in the Fire Service for 37 years. He was assigned to Ladder 17 in the South Bronx in 1986. He worked 5 years in Ladder 17 before transferring to Squad 41. In September 1995 he was promoted to Lieutenant and worked in SOC and Harlem. In 2003 he was again promoted to Captain. In his 22 years as an officer and firefighter, he received 9 meritorious awards. In 2008 Dan was promoted again to Battalion Chief where he has been now for past 15 years commanding the Third Battalion for 10 years.

Dan has been instructing at FDIC International for the past 20 years. He formed a training group in 2002 that helped serve fire departments in Latin America that still is in existence today. In 2005 after his voluntary deployment to New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he was invited on to the FDNY IMT in the Operations Section. Dan was part of a small group that created and ran a water delivery task force. This team stayed in New Orleans two years to assist the NOFD with water delivery while the hydrant system was repaired.