Katherine Thais Ridenhour, retired Battalion Chief, Aurora Fire Department (CO), is passionate about teaching competent and confident leadership on and off the fireground. Her classes include strategy/tactics, command, conflict solution/problem solving, leadership and promotional preparation.
Katherine’s experience spans 25 years in Tech Rescue, FEMA/USAR, EMS, Training Division, Diversity Board and past President of Women in the Fire Service. She also spent 5 recent years after retirement as a volunteer firefighter and feels privileged to understand the rural side of the fire service. Her passion for presenting exceptional teaching methodologies has earned her multiple requests to teach at various departments, and she is proud to serve the volunteer side of the fire service in that way. She also has extensive teaching at various Department of Defense bases including the United States Air Force Academy, Tyndall Air Force Base and the entire Northwest Navy Region.
Katherine has taught nationally for years at such conferences as FDIC, FRI, the IAFC Metro Chiefs, the IAFF Human Relations and Redmond Symposium, as well as various state conferences.
Despite being retired, she is an avid student of the fire service and keeps current with all the latest trends. She has mentored at least 1000 firefighters to assist them getting promoted to various positions, including Chief of Department and is still sought after for those and her teaching abilities. She is grateful to have had a great career and the opportunity to teach around the nation in order to give back to the fire service.
I had the distinct honor of talking with Chief Ridenhour about her experiences in the Fire Service. Her work on exposing the practice of “Bullying” in our industry is well known, as she is a sought after lecturer and keynote speaker.
Take the time to listen to this in-depth episode that focuses on several issues in our workplace.
Captain Tiffanye Wesley and her team guard the U.S. Pentagon. Along with this trusted position, she is an author, leader and continues to inspire others. She speaks about her challenges and her perseverance. I continue to see her on the national stage and she is always willing and able to support others and share.
Tiffanye S. Wesley is celebrated as a leader and trailblazer. The leadership trainer and inspirational speaker is also a Fire/EMS Captain II with the Arlington County Fire Department in Arlington, Virginia – the first African American female to be promoted to this level of leadership in the department’s 71-year history.
A 24-year veteran of the Arlington County Fire Department, Tiffanye has served in numerous positions. The most notable positions include Nationally Certified Bomb Technician and Bomb Commander, Station Commander for the largest and busiest firehouse in Arlington and most recently Acting Battalion Chief where she is responsible for effective supervision, management and coordination of emergency scene operations, as well as; daily operations of a battalion (5 fire stations).
Though known for putting out fires, she also ignites audiences as a leadership trainer often focusing on leading with integrity and respect.
A true inspiration, SEAL Admiral William ?. McRaven addresses the 2014 graduating class of the University of Texas. His impassioned and caring message will be forever remembered for its focus and clarity.
After having a great week at FRI2018, I thought I would share this with the #fireofficertrust crew.
GLUE is a universal resource for the growth and development of EMPOWERment paradigms. This program is certain to develop strong leaders in all ranks of your organization.
The “GLUE Guys” touch on vital issues that reaffirm the connections to the communities and people we serve. Their unique brand of leadership empowerment brings focus on the individual leader and their growth through principled leadership!
I have been following the G.L.U.E. Guys for quite some time now. Their innovative approach to leadership development has the all-access flavor that is necessary in today’s business market. Although I have primarily seen their work in the emergency management sector, I recognize those foundational principles that are the hallmark of successful leaders and organizations.
Transformational Leadership with Fire Chief Reggie Freeman
While attending a community event in the City of New Haven, Hartford Fire Chief Reggie Freeman and I got the opportunity to “chop it up” and discuss his passion with Transformational Leadership. Chief Freeman’s approach to management is crisp and to the point. He has the innate ability to inspire and encourage leaders.
Please give a listen and share this great insight that Chief Freeman has been espousing all over the globe.
Reginald D. Freeman, MS, CFO, FIFireE
On February 1, 2016, Reginald D. Freeman was sworn in as the 37th Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director for the City of Hartford. Prior to the City of Hartford, Chief Freeman served as Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Ft. Worth, TX also known as U.S. Air Force Plant 4. In addition to his duties as Chief of Department to the team in Ft. Worth, Chief Freeman provided international guidance and direction to the Italian and Japanese governments through the Ministry of Defence by providing training and consulting to each nation’s Air Force Fire Department personnel, respectively as it pertains to the F-35 Lightning. Furthermore, Chief Freeman served as the Assistant Chief/Deputy Director of Emergency Management for the City of Hartford, CT as well as Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin in Marietta, GA. (U.S. Air Force Plant 6) where he was named Professional of the Year in 2009.
Chief Freeman served in Iraq as a civilian Fire Chief for the U.S. Department of Defense and coalition allies from 2004 to 2008, providing all hazards fire and emergency services to forward and continuing operating bases throughout Iraq. His last assignment was at their headquarters on Camp Victory in Baghdad as the Chief of Compliance, Safety, & Planning where he helped managed more than 700 firefighters and nearly 25,000 calls per year. He has worked in a number of fire service capacities in his career including Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Fire Captain, Fire Service Instructor, Assistant Fire Chief, and Fire Chief.
Chief Freeman’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership from Bellevue University in Bellevue, NE. He earned his Master’s Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ and he is currently a Doctoral student in dissertation phase studying Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Organizational Development. Chief Freeman is also a graduate and Fellow of Harvard University’s Senior Executives for State & Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government. Chief Freeman previously served as the Chair of the Industrial Fire & Life Safety Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and a previous Board member of the Executive Fire Officer Section of the IAFC and Technical Committee member of NFPA 1021 (Fire Officer Professional Qualifications), respectively. Additionally, Chief Freeman serves as the Chair for the Commission on Professional Credentialing via the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. and is also the Director of Training for the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs. Lastly, Chief Freeman is an accredited Chief Fire Officer (CFO) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. as well as a credentialed “Fellow” with the Institution of Fire Engineers, USA Branch. Lastly, Chief Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for NFPA.
Chief Freeman is an Adjunct Professor for Anna Maria College and the University of Florida where he lectures in both undergraduate and graduate Fire Science and Master of Public Administration programs.
Whether in a large department or a small, we all experience the same issues around officer development. This workshop draws on several disciplines to aid participants in identifying the key characteristics of successful officers and managers. Through discussion and activities, the participants will be introduced to seven traits critical to professional growth. Among the issues covered will be barriers that hinder cultural change, transforming from firefighter to fire officer and shaping the future.
(Pictured below is the first crew under my command as an assigned officer. They taught me more than I could ever learn from a book – Thanx Terence , Al, Flo and Mike)
Through the use of dialogue we will share the traits that are commonly associated with good officers and successful leaders. Drawing on elements of the National Fire Academy course, ” Shaping the Future”, participants will exchange ideas and insight for the past, current and future Fire and Emergency Services Culture. We will identify the elements of change in a non-judgmental way.
Define the seven areas for exploration and discussion.
Utilize dialogue and written exercises to identify key terms.
Discover your “Command Presence”
Discuss barriers that hinder cultural change.
Identify resources to aid in transformation from Fire Fighter to Fire Officer.
Identify unique issues and operations in the Fire Service Culture.
Discuss common business and management cultural principles.
Hope you can make it out and join me. The best lessons are always shared. Stay safe!
The first time I met Captain Vincent Julius of the FDNY and Vulcan Society of New York was in Buffalo New York in 1986. I had only been a firefighter for 16 months. He made an instant impression on me; through his care for detail and organization; his love of the fire service; his love for our culture; and his unapologetic demeanor.He was great friends with another of my mentors Fire Fighter Eddie Dawson of the Jersey city Fire Department. The two of them would pal around all of the time, on Vinnie’s boat. Capt. Julius sailed on his boat the Red Martha to many of our conferences on the East Coast. He was a well educated man. A man of discipline and substance. He and I would quote the poem Invictus back and forth to each other and the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner.INVICTUS…
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley
He was a great friend and taught me much about our organization. He was steadfast to the end and he will be sorely missed. I will remember my friend every time I see the sun’s reflection on the water or a sailboat sway in the sunset.Fair thee well, Fair thee well, fair thee well….THE FOLLOWING IS FROM THE ARTICLE WRITTEN IN THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, BY GINGER OTIS ADAMS…Retired FDNY Captain Vincent W. Julius, one of the department’s most high-profile African-American firefighters during the city’s “War Years,” died Sunday after a long illness. He was 88.
Julius, born in New York in 1927, was the younger brother of Reginald Julius, who also became a firefighter.
The two men, both WWII veterans who served overseas — Reginald in the Navy and Vincent in the Army — were among just a handful of black firefighters who served in the city’s outer boroughs during the unrest of the 1960s and ‘70s.
Julius became a captain of Ladder 112 in Bushwick in the late ‘70s, where fires bigger than three alarms were called a “Bushwick Sunrise.” He retired in Feb. 1985 after a distinguished career.
“You go into a burning building, down a hallway, you see what we call the red demon, and that red demon’s fingers are reaching out for you, and they’re saying, ‘C’mon. C’mon. I’ve got something for you. C’mon.’ And you put your head down and you keep moving,” he said in the book.
Julius lived his life as he fought fires — with an eye always turned toward progress.
He was an active and vocal member of the Vulcan Society and served as president of the organization in the 1970s, helping to buy its current headquarters, a brownstone on Eastern Parkway.
Julius was also a co-founder of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters in 1969. The group had its first conference in 1970.
An ardent supporter of Civil Rights, Julius played a critical role in getting the city’s fire unions to denounce the fire departments of southern cities who turned fire hoses on peaceful marchers and protestors.
In 1963, Julius — by then an officer — asked the Uniformed Fire Officers Association to write a resolution condemning the use of hoses on civilians, especially children.
The UFOA’s all-white executive board agreed — but when it presented the resolution to the membership, it was voted down, Julius said.
Even though he was one of the few black officers in the union — and a new member — Julius spoke up, and forced the board to pass the resolution anyway.
“I’m very proud of that,” Julius told Birmingham NPR station WBHM last year. “It was a good move, a tough move. I took some brick bats for it, but who the hell cares? Life is made to take adversaries.”
He was the first black firefighter appointed to the FDNY Honor Emergency Fund, which gave out financial assistance to needy families of fallen smoke eaters.
In the turbulent 1970s, part of the FDNY’s busiest stretch known as the “War Years,” he was the department’s community liaison to underserved neighborhoods — places where the fires burned highest and firefighters often found themselves pelted with rocks and garbage from tenement rooftops.
When women moved to join the all-male Bravest in the late 1970s, Julius was their most outspoken champion, said his longtime colleague and friend, James T. Lee.
“He was an organization man, he did a tremendous amount for every organization he joined,” said the 85-year-old retired FDNY firefighter.
“Vinnie always kept the fire burning for justice,” Lee said.
A viewing and funeral will be held Monday, May 16 at 10 a.m. at Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, at 75 Pine Lakes Parkway South in Palm Coast, Florida.
Being Chief has nothing to do with your title. It has everything to do with your choices—those that bring out your best and the best in people around you. Anyone can be Chief.
Rick Miller is a confidant, author, and speaker who can help you unlock your potential and the potential of everyone in your organization. He has a track record of working with Chiefs of all levels doing just that.
Rick Miller describes how Chief titles are widely used today for people with power, but don’t accurately reflect what it means to be a Real Chief. Rick asserts that Being Chief is about making a choice rather than gaining a title. Learn how to unlock your power and be a Real Chief. www.BEINGCHIEF.com
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)
Great message by Rick Miller who gets it. One of my firefighters sent this link to me and said that it reminded her of me, in some ways. I am honored and wanted to share this link with others. So many people have the title Chief and that’s all that they have.
I hope that I embody and represent some of the traits that Rick speaks of.
Some people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer; it would be the same in any profession or industry, when you move from worker to supervisor. Just as in the private sector the move and transition is task, role and responsibility specific. In some cases it is even physical…
In most professions, a promotion is seen as a reward. In our industry it is more function specific.
You may go from driver to the other front seat with no controls; driving in a vehicle all alone or be driven by an aide. I have ridden in all of them. Each has its place and each has its own unique perspective.
In my profession people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer
They may be right if:
– You weren’t serious about the job or your responsibilities, to begin with.
– You didn’t make the investment in yourself to study and become proficient
– You don’t like people (the ones you serve or the ones you serve with)
– You are one of the guys/gals and can’t distinguish between leader / follower
– You lack the courage to change yourself and circumstances when needed.
I don’t want you to think that I am bashing anyone or being cruel. I’m not. Some Officers are honest and tell me that they went for the higher rank, solely, for the higher pay. (To me, that’s wrong… although not criminal…and now I’m off the soap box)
There are other reasons for this. I have had the pleasure to work with and speak to hundreds of fire officers in the last thirty years. Each of them brings something unique to the office and many bring the same thing. I am finding more and more that they are tool and task focused, as opposed to the overall operation or mission.
When you make the change, there must also be a transition.
You must understand your role and responsibility.
So, if you are a person aspiring to be an officer or manager:
Learn your job well, first
Study and train for the position you seek
Network with incumbents who have been there, done that and have been successful
Select and establish rapport with a mentor or role-model
Focus your efforts with a positive attitude
If you are already that person and not sure:
Perform a self-audit:“Ask yourself, am I doing all that I can?”
Study and train to maintain your optimal level of proficiency and knowledge
Please be sure to sign up for our newsletter. Just enter your email address in the space provided to the left of this article. We will keep you informed of our classes and up to date information of interest.