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
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Of the countless people who take on various leadership roles in the fire service, how many encounter resistance to their attempts to lead or even hostility, jealousy or unfriendliness. How many find the transition to company officer challenging to say the least? If, being a leader turns out to be a bad experience it is almost always because of the officers own ineffectiveness. The purpose of this presentation is to show you what special skills and methods you must learn to use today’s “model” of effective company officer leadership.
A 29-year public safety veteran, Steven Orusa is the Fire Chief for the Fishers Fire Department. He has a bachelor of science in Law Enforcement Administration and his graduate work is in Human Resource Management. He is a published author and is a frequently invited speaker on public safety leadership and development techniques. He has provided analysis on public safety response for USA Today, Fire Chief Magazine, Fire Engineering Magazine, and has also appeared on BBC, MSNBC, Fox News and CNN to provide expert analysis on disaster response.
Check out California State Fire Marshal Tanya Hoover. I had the great opportunity to meet and speak with Fire Marshal Hoover at an IAFF Instructor Development Conference. She was personable and dynamic. This clip is from the Fire Alumni Workshop Series.
The Fire Alumni Events continue to motivate and educate future firefighters in the right direction. These events will prepare you, the candidate, to become a firefighter anywhere in the nation. for Fire Departments across the nation.
A chameleon is defined as any one ofnumerousOldWorldlizardsofthefamilyChamaeleontidae,characterizedbytheabilitytochangethecoloroftheirskin,veryslowlocomotion,andaprojectile tongue; or achangeable,fickle,or an inconstant person.
Having worked with Firefighters and Fire Officers from several departments, over many years, I continue to hear the same complaint and praises. The issue is consistency.
The Chameleon Fire Officer: (The one who changes and blends with his/her environment as a defense mechanism.) Is slow to react. They can be characterized as fickle, moody and unpredictable. They may display one aspect of their character as Firefighters; then a different one as a Fire Officer. At best, they will make one change and you have to live with it; or at worst be one way today and another tomorrow. I hear this assessment, over and over and over again. Indecision and inconsistency in the fire station is bothersome yet tolerable. It can be deadly on the fire-ground.
Let’s look at the three: Mentor, Menace or Mediocre.
Graphic by Malcolm Alston
Have you adopted the character traits, persona and practices of a mentor. Someone who is approachable, learned, intuitive, genuinely concerned for the positive growth and development of others? Are you a good listener? Do you constantly strive to stay at the top of your game (by study, taking courses and by information sharing); so that you are a valuable and knowledgeable resource to subordinates, colleagues, your superiors, and the public? Do you help, aid, and assist all members of your service, where-ever you encounter them? Do you seek genuine opportunities to encourage others? Do you attempt to turn negatives into positives?
Being a mentor is a selfless act. It is a continuous process. It is a transparent process. It takes a strong commitment and a lot of work!
Have you adopted the character traits or persona of a Menace? Are you perceived as one? Let’s face it –many members of our profession are “Type A” personalities. That is a good thing, at times and a horrible attribute at others. I have met officers that bring hidden and no-so-hidden agendas to the workplace. Why?When this happens, it clouds their judgement in all aspects of the work environment. It causes other members of the service to shut down and avoid them. One of the problems with that is many times those Menacing Officers are in key positions in the organization. LOL. There is not enough couch time to unpack the psychological “issues” that created this “character”; just know that they are out there.Now, when I say a “Menacing Officer”, I don’t just mean the type that is always lewd, crude and obnoxious. I don’t even limit that monicker to the one that is “in your face”. I have met some of the quietest menaces you could find. Their modus operandi is calm, cool and just as menacing as officer who is “out there”. These quiet, nondescript, “Closet Menacers” (<–poetic license, instead of “Menaces”) have their own way about harassing coworkers and subordinates. They apply discipline and work assignments, disproportionately. They play favorites and the “ends against the middle” (Classic divide and conquer). Some of whom you would think stepped right out of the pages of General Sun Tzu’s, “Art of War” or Niccoli Machiavelli’s, ” The Prince “. Cold, quiet and calculating. Yet, a Menace, none the less!
Have you adopted the attitude, character traits and/or persona of a mediocre officer. Status Quo is sufficient. It’s the Guy or Gal at the top who caused these problems and only they can fix them. “Morale is low!” “You really can’t change things, anyway.” “Why Try?” “There’s no benefit or penalty for attempting to improve things.” “People are people.” “This new generation of Firefighters are the worst ever!” “You just have to go along to get along (and get ahead).” “Things are just fine the way they are.” “I set my expectations low and that way I am rarely disappointed.” “Same Circus, Different Clowns!” “I’m just here for the paycheck.”. Sound like anyone you know?
The Mediocre Officer is indecisive or, at worst, nonchalant. They are not engaging. They skate by, with everything. This person takes on the personality trait that they have already arrived or have risen as high as they can. His/her characteristics are “Laissez-faire” (indifferent, hands-off or do the bare minimum). One definition of laissez-faire is literal, “let it/them pass”. Meaning let it along. Don’t get involved. Don’t interfere. Don’t make changes. Don’t make decisions. Do you know someone like this? Is it you???