The mayor of Atlanta today announced that Kelvin Cochran is going to be returning to his position as the fire chief of Atlanta. Chief Cochran was fire chief there for little less than a year when he took the position of US fire administrator in the Obama administration.
The position of US fire administrator is really underutilized currently however I feel it could be an extremely important asset to the American fire service. We have an opportunity to have our voices heard by the Obama administration about what we would like to see in the next US fire administrator. What qualities we would like this individual to have. What type of personality we would like this person to have and what type of pedigree would we like this person have.
I think that Kelvin Cochran did a good job during his tenure as the US fire administrator. The job of the US fire administrator is to be America's fire chief and if you were America's fire chief today what would your message be to the troops. What would your message be to the citizens of this country and what would you tell your boss the fire service needed. How would you convince the Congress and mayors that more support was needed for the American fire service at every level, federal, state and local. How willing would you be to travel from town to town to try to help fire departments to convince citizens of the necessity to support the fire department in more robust and effective ways. How much travel and how much work would you be willing to take on?
Firefighting in the United States is an extremely dangerous and extremely complicated task. The job of the firefighter today is radically different than it was just 20 years ago as our jobs continually try to keep pace with technology and the other advances in society. As technology increases the opportunity for failure increases, we continue to find new and clever ways for things to go horribly wrong. We now have giant aircraft that can experience hydraulic failures that can result in catastrophic events. We now have computer guided oil tankers that a small miscalculation in a computer can steer into disaster. We have automobiles that for unforeseen reasons speed out of control resulting in high speed horrible accidents. We have high speed rail systems with trains being run by computers at speeds over 100 miles per hour. We didn't have any of that 20 years ago.
We communicate in different ways than we did 20 years ago, the next fire administrator needs to be eloquent on Facebook, twitter and an avid blogger. The next administrator needs to be able to educate entertain and enlighten all in the same speech. The next fire administrator needs to be someone who has come through the ranks someone who spent time as a firefighter, a driver, company officer, Battalion chief, division chief, assistant, and deputy chief. Without a solid pedigree of experience in every rank you cannot be a good chief officer. You can be a selected or appointed chief officer but not a good chief officer.
The next US fire administrator needs to understand the intricate relationship between EMS and fire, between the USAR program and fire, between corporate America and fire, between the internal vendors of fire equipment and fire and between our research institutions such as NIST, UL, FM, ISO and fire. The next US fire administrator needs to understand how to manage relationships how to evaluate their quality their honesty and their benefit to the mission. The next US fire administrator needs to not only have a strong vision of the future they need to have deep roots in our traditions and our principles.
So who would you pick if you were Pres. Obama? What type of man or woman would you be looking for to lead America's bravest? It's a critically important position it's going to affect your life, so let's hear from you. Let me know what type of person you're looking for, let me know what you want them to do, let me know who you think would do a good job and I promise you I will try to pass that information up the food chain. We have a chance to infulence who our new boss is going to be let's take it. Lets help the President select someone we can be proud of, we can support and we can trust.
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