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Check out our last show on Leadership and Mentoring

By Frank Ricci, Jason Hoevelmann & Jim Moss


The discussion of leadership must be accompanied by the discussion of building and sustaining relationships for fire officers.  It is critical that we get to know the people that we are working with and asking for respect and effort from.  We must show value in our members and let them know that they are an important part of our team, requiring all out effort not only from them, but from ourselves as well.


Additionally, we must have the ability and humility to recognize failures and to learn from them, not run from them.  If we can’t accept that we failed or struggle with an issue or issues, we will be doomed to repeat them.  A lack of recognition in this regard is a recipe for disaster because it does not lend to constructive discussions and reflection on where we need to improve.  In that same sense, if we can’t  take an honest look at our own failings and struggles and make the appropriate changes, it is difficult to motivate those members that we work with to do the same.




  1. Informal mentorship occurs on a daily basis, when on individual may transfer his or her knowledge of equipment, tactics or techniques to another member. This is the most common type of mentorship in the fire service. It is also how fire service traditions have been passed down from generation to generation.
  2. A formal mentorship relationship is when a mentee is assigned to a mentor, or vice versa. Along the same lines, the mentee can ask a more experienced/knowledgeable member to mentor them as a means to be successful in their current position; or to successfully promote to a desired position.





There is a strong parallel between mentorship and effective leadership, both work hand-in-hand.


Both mentors and leaders must not only teach the way, they must show the way through their positive example. To me, mentorship and leadership are both about three core values: investment, relationships, and action. If we are going to be effective at both, we must first invest our time, knowledge, skills, abilities, and share our experiences with our mentees. Secondly, both mentorship and leadership require building genuine relationships. Building relationships will help get the most out of our mentees/crew members. It's gonna help us find out what their strengths are and help us find out what motivates them. Lastly, both mentorship and leadership require action. We can talk the talk, but as we all know, are actions speak louder than our words... we must walk the walk. Are we as leaders and mentors living out our expectations on a daily basis? Or are our actions contradicting what we preach?



Maybe no one is willing (or qualified) to mentor you at your own fire department. This is unfortunate, but you can still learn from plenty of fire service leaders and mentors through social media and reading leadership books. Some of my (Jim Moss) greatest mentors in the fire service are people who I have never met in person. 



We always say that experience is the best teacher, however only a fool learns in that school alone. That is why having a mentor is paramount: their experience and wisdom are priceless. Mentees must learn from their mentors successes and failures alike. How great is it that a mentee can learn from the mistakes of others without having the make those same mistakes themselves? 




All officers, especially company officers, are responsible for shaping the next generation of fire service leaders. However, you don't have to be a company officer to be a successful mentor.


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