Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training


I do not bring a degree in tight end, modern dance, micro management or other non fire related subjects to the leadership table.

I do most certainly encourage young people entering the Fire Service to seek out every opportunity for higher education that is job related. I also admire those, a bit senior, who sought out their fire service related college degrees later in life, earned their degree and used it to develop themselves as balanced leaders.

 I would have liked to have a college diploma hanging on my office wall along with all the other stuff of importance, but that is not how it went for me.

I always tried to develop myself and to also influence young people to achieve their Fire Service working credibility and to tune their firefighting skills throughout their career; always learning toward their masters degree in street smarts.

Sadly, all of us read about the failures of people in leadership roles who as theorists, ideologues and social dreamers and schemers create in their fire department vivid examples of a cesspool of leadership.  

These leadership posers completed their course load and they were credited and degreed, all the while assuming that this degree alone somehow made them leadership credible. They never recognized the educational balance between street smarts and book smarts that I see as necessary in the Fire Service.

This lack of leadership balance left them with no working experiences to refer back to when life in the big city came along and got the best of them and their department. They spend their time dealing with administrative maydays, they bailout of windows where there a ladder should have been, and when the steps of their department morale burn through, they have no idea of how to bridge to overcome the void and to keep the department advancing. Their eyes wide closed style stole greatness from their department. If World War II had been so led we would all be speaking German and living on sauerkraut.  

I remember a number of sad commentaries from the leadership cesspool. On September 11, 2001 a degreed fellow came into the office and expressed his theory that something was wrong with the air traffic control system in New York.  Another called the Fire Academy and asked how many passengers the ten passenger vans carried and finally there was the fellow who had just completed the junior college fire science hydraulics course and asked the professor how much water does a fire hydrant hold.

These same students of self demonstrated their lack of balance in the leadership cesspool each time that they were sent to a fire. The fire incident would have been better served if they had stayed away. They brought chaos to chaos, they were hypnotized by smoke and fire and their lack of street smarts was demonstrated each time that they transmitted while romancing their radio.

They never paused to acknowledge those who made them look good even when they observed a mutt like me leading groups of exceptional, street smart pedigreed firefighters into tough spots where they accomplished noble and exceptional things, over and over, for a public who was dying for our help.

Is your hose half empty or half full – outlook and attitude are yours individually.

I haven’t been to the perfect fire – or one that I could talk out. Communications includes listening.

Learn from your positive neighbors who win. Ask how they do it. It helps the whole neighborhood.

Balance keeps you out of the leadership cesspool.

Not all registered dogs have hunt. Don’t demoralize the mutts.

Thanks for reading, caring and sharing.

Have a great day – it’s a GREAT day for it.

Views: 673


You need to be a member of Fire Engineering Training Community to add comments!

Join Fire Engineering Training Community

Policy Page


Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail

FE Podcasts

Check out the most recent episode and schedule of

© 2022   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service