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Officer Development Series

Our online Officer Development Program consists of a series of articles that provide insight and techniques that will help new officers understand and develop the leadership, management, and administrative skills needed to perform at their highest level. This series was developed by Deputy Chief Frank Viscuso, co-author of the best-selling books Step Up and Lead, Fireground Operational Guides, and Practice Scenarios.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

After Action Review

One way of attaining information is with an After Action Review (AAR). An AAR is a structured review or debriefing method for analyzing what happened, why it happened, and how things can be done better. The formal AAR was originally developed by the U.S. Army. The concept works and has been adapted by many non-military organizations, both domestic and international. The fire service has also come to know the AAR by another term – the Post Incident Analysis (PIA).

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Delegating

A Fire Officer will accomplish far more through effective delegation than he would by micromanaging and/or taking on 100% of the responsibility for every project (or problem) he encounters. Delegation is one of the most important aspects of time management. It’s right up there with setting priorities and avoiding time wasting activities.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Leadership Traits

Some people like to debate whether leaders are made or born. The most likely answer would be that some true leaders are born, but most are made – “self-made”. A smart fire officer will concentrate on developing the leadership qualities and traits that are necessary for success. For the most part, leadership traits in any profession are universal. In the fire service, however, there are specific qualities that an officer absolutely must possess. In this article, we are going to discuss 12 leadership traits that firefighters – and the public – look for in a fire service leader.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Public Speaking

An officer is often asked to speak and present in public – sometimes without a chance to prepare. Because of this, it’s important to develop adequate communication skills. When it comes to speaking in public, having a vast knowledge base on the topic you are covering is essential, but without good communication skills, the thought of giving a live presentation can be daunting. Everyone knows the #1 fear in America is public speaking… many people don’t know that the #2 fear in America is death.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Subordinate Problems - the 3U's

Ask any fire officer if he or she has had problems with a subordinate, and you will likely receive a look that sarcastically implies, “Are you kidding me?” It is inevitable, when a group of individuals with different personalities spend any significant amount of time together, those personalities are going to clash, and problems will surface. Some may “appear” to be minor problems, like the avoidance of daily housework duties, or a sudden lack of interest in the job. Others are much more serious, like refusing to obey orders around the fire house, or worse, on the fire ground.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Creating a Culture of Customer Service

Every organization has a culture. It is either created by design or default. Creating a culture of customer service does not happen by accident. Buying into the concept of layered leadership (the need for leaders throughout your entire organization) is especially important when it comes to customer service.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Firehouse Tours for Children

Let me begin by saying this may seem like an odd place to post a firehouse tour article, but having strong public relations skills is a key component to becoming a great fire officer. A tour of the firehouse falls into the PR category as much, or more, than anything else we will do while wearing our uniform. With that thought in mind, below is an article filled with helpful information.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Managers verses Leaders

There is a distinct difference between management and leadership. Managers manage a process they’ve seen before. Leaders create change. Although your thesaurus may say the best synonym for leadership is management, these are two very different things.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Pushing vs Pulling

The responsibility of firefighters who respond to waterrelated incidents is to ensure safety and prevent damage. A

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

The "Best Ideas" Have to Win

Basic Safety Rules for Incidents on Railroads

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Critiquing Others

There will be times when a firefighter under your command performs at an unacceptable level. This can occur in the fire house, or out in the public’s eyes (which is far worse). Critiquing, when done correctly, falls under the same category as constructive criticism. In order to skillfully critique others, follow this proven format that is used in the fire service, as well as corporate America.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Freelancing

Freelancing is one of the most dangerous, destructive and counterproductive acts an individual, or group of individuals, can do on the fire ground. The term Freelancing is not the same in the fire service as it is in the corporate world. In corporate America, freelancing is a term used for a person whose skills are available for hire, such as a freelance writer or photographer. On the fire ground; however, freelancing occurs when a person works outside of an established action plan.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Mentoring

All “great” fire departments have some form of a Mentorship Program. It’s arguably the best way to train new officers and/or compensate for the inevitable loss of experience, skill and knowledge that occurs when senior members retire and probationary firefighters take their place. In a perfect world, veterans will have ample time to work with probies and pass on valuable information, but this isn’t always the case.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Report Writing

Few people like writing reports and no one likes writing lengthy, detailed reports. In fact, many firefighters choose not to seek promotions simply because report writing intimidates them. I know something about this, because it intimidated me, and maybe it has the same effect on you, but this is something you can overcome.

Deputy Chief

Frank Viscuso

Trust & Loyalty

You will never lead people, nor will you have a loyal team, if others do not trust you. Trust comes from being true to your word. This means you doing what you say you are going to do. In the Fire Service, trust is the glue that holds the bond of brotherhood together.