The Fire Service Change Agent

20160517_Marlene Bio Photo

Change has to become part of our culture, whether that is in the training we are currently using for seasoned staff or with the new generation of firefighters that are coming on board. Part of that desired change is diversity, yet it is a challenge in many professions, including our own, so how do we accomplish it?

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Ten Lessons Learned During my First Year as Fire Chief, Part II

Fire Chief Susanna Schmitt Williams

Be a leader not just a manager. Model the behavior you expect to see. Empower personnel to make decisions befitting their rank. When personnel and officers are given the freedom to do this with the expectation that they make decisions supporting the mission, vision, and values of the department and the town an amazing thing happens, they do the right thing every time.

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Ten Things I’ve Learned in My First Year as a Fire Chief, Part I

Fire Chief Susanna Schmitt Williams

I made it clear that I set the bar very high for myself and others around me. I had a brief moment where I thought of lowering the bar, but I quickly removed that thought from my mind. I kept the bar high and made my people “reach for it” and achieve it. Which meant that I then pushed it even higher! So my advice to chiefs is: Don’t be afraid to continually raise the bar. You will be amazed at what can be achieved.

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Women and minorities in the fire service need champions

20151012_AA Woman Firefighter

Male firefighters—for the most part—never think twice about seeking such positions, especially promotions, before they’re “ready.” Female firefighters, like their counterparts in most other professions, don’t actively seek promotions and the like until they feel they are “ready.” For the most part this is because of the male-centric aspect of our fire service culture that requires that a female firefighter has to work twice as hard and be twice as good as their male counterpart to “prove” themselves as being “worthy” of promotion.

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Firefighters and Residential Fire Sprinkler Systems

Fire sprinkler head active

Many people, especially those outside the fire service, believe that residential sprinkler systems cause more damage than the fire because we continue to let the builders and developers control the residential sprinkler agenda. Those same people do not know that sprinkler systems keep the fire from rapidly growing to the point that it can trap occupants or inflict substantial damage on the structure.

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Engaging Our People in the Fire Service

20160822_I love my job

People--especially those who enter the fire service--generally want to be successful and feel like they are making a contribution to the organization. Lack of clarity from their organizational leaders, and especially their first-line supervisor, in the form of clear expectations can be a significant "roadblock" to their success.

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I’m a fire service feminist

20160811_what feminism isnt

Before the fire service can move forward in recruiting and retaining more women the overall culture in many organizations must change. We have to eradicate the "idea" that the fire service is a male-dominated vocation or avocation. Yes, right now that's a true statement because of sheer numbers and the fact that men predominantly occupy leadership roles in fire departments.

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Planning Your Fire Service Career

20160801_Career Planning

Congratulations! You’ve completed your probationary period with your fire and EMS organization and with it all the training and development activities prescribed by your department. You’re now, no doubt, chomping on the bit to advance in your chosen career, but where do you start?

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