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Leadership in the Fire Service

On Oct 20th, I spoke to 160 firefighters at Kean University. It was the Tri-State Fireground Operations Seminar and I was honored to share the stage with two fire service icons – DC Vincent Dunn and DC Mike Terpak. The topic of my class was ‘Leadership in the Fire Service.’ Those two men know a little something about Leadership.

During the class I spoke about the need for strong leadership in today’s fire service. I also covered the top traits found among leaders in our profession. (A list of those traits can be found on this page:

After the class, I had the privilege of speaking with a group of dedicated firefighters about one of the problems we are facing with Leadership in todays’ world. The problem is a lack of transparency. It seems that our country lacks leaders with integrity. Just ask ten people if they plan on watching the next political debate and at some point in the conversation they will say something like, “What’s the point, they all lie anyway.”

If you are in a leadership position, whether it’s as a parent, coach, fire officer, or CEO, I want to encourage you to be a different kind of leader – One who clearly defines his goals and mission. This is especially important for fire service leaders. Fire fighters become detached when they’re ignored, not taken seriously, stereotyped, or left in the dark. We need more leaders who are transparent and take time to explain what they are striving to accomplish. This is the only way to get other people to participate in your mission and believe in you.

Consider this: If your superior doesn’t communicate with you or care what you think, would you give your best effort? Of course not, and your subordinates feel the same way you do. For this reason, I want to encourage you to be a transparent leader. If people are wondering if you have an ulterior motive or hidden agenda, you have already lost them. Don’t ever forget, in the fire service, people have to follow officers, but they WANT to follow leaders.

Step Up and Lead! ~ Frank Viscuso

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