New research is shedding light on how we fight fires and in some cases, challenge long-accepted practices. This video highlights the key lessons from this research that will hopefully get you thinking deeper and maybe incorporate them into your department’s operations.

Points to Consider:

  • Fires are more volatile today because of building design and construction, and fire load materials (this stuff burns faster and hotter).
  • Early application of water reduces the thermal threat to firefighters (do something to the fire and everything gets better).
  • Forcible entry openings should be considered as ventilation (as the building changes, so does the fire behavior).
  • The SLICE-RS method is intended to serve as the initial attack sequence for first arriving companies whereas, RECEO-VS serves as command priorities to help guide the incident commander through the process.

Watch and listen, dig deeper into everyone’s thoughts and see how this research can help your department operate safer and more effectively.

Honor, Courage, Sacrifice: Yarnell 19

Posted by Paul Combs on July 2, 2014 at Drawn By Fire.

For information on the Yarnell Hill Fire, go here to Pam McDonald’s post at Wildland Fire Leadership.

Day 1

Read Wildland Firefighter Justin Vernon’s personal thoughts on the Yarnell Fire here.

We Need to Read More [Article]

My recent article in the IAFC On Scene.

Firefighter/EMT Safety, Health & Survival: We Need to Read More

Return to the September 15, 2013 issue of On Scene

With the current challenges the fire service faces today, with ever-increasing responsibilities and danger, we need all the help we can get.

We must continue to build our analytical skills with the intuitive leadership skills necessary for success in our complex and chaotic world. We must encourage a commitment to lifelong learning and development. We need to produce leaders who are mentors, coaches and counselors: leaders who create conditions for development.

So where do we begin? We begin by reading more.

We know that the military and other professions strongly believe in reading programs to develop their leaders. In 1777, urging the officers of the Continental Army to read, George Washington wrote, “As War is a Science, and a great deal of useful knowledge and Instruction to be drawn from books, you are to cause your Officers to devote some part of their time to reading Military authors …”

So, why wouldn’t this concept work for the fire service? Actually, it does and I want to propose a challenge to everyone: To read more!

I’ve always counted on books to help me. Regardless of the problem I faced or the topic I was interested in, I have always found a book to help me through it. Truly, books have transformed my career and my life. I can look back over time and point to specific books that have influenced my thinking and helped me to grow as a leader.

Professional development comes in many forms—through training, hands-on experience and yes, even reading. The real purpose isn’t to just read, but to inspire discussion on different topics as well.

A professional reading program provides a selection of readings that support continuous improvement within the fire service. Reading programs add depth and breadth to firefighters’ development at any stage of their careers and are important to leadership growth. Abraham Lincoln said, “The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I [haven’t] read.”

Reading is essential to self-education and lifelong learning; the fire service can only get better if more of us take time to read. Read as if the quality of our lives depends on it, because it does. Reading will make us better.

Do you have a professional reading program at your fire department? Do your chief officers publish a reading list each year? Here are links to some reading lists to help you develop leaders within your departments:

Billy Schmidt is a battalion chief for Palm Beach County (Fla.) Fire Rescue and a member of the Safety, Health and Survival Section.

Here’s a list of books to help launch you on your way to better leadership through reading. Most of these aren’t specific to firefighting, but they’re transferrable to the fire service; their insights on leadership apply as much to the fire service as to leadership the military, politics or business:

  • Human factors – how we think and act:
    • Better: A Surgeon’s Notes On Performance (Atul Gawande)
    • Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking (Malcolm Gladwell)
    • Deep Survival; Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why (Laurence Gonzalez)
    • Blue Threat: Why To Err Is Inhuman (Tony Kern)
  • Leadership and management – what we strive to be:
    • The One Minute Manager (Kenneth H. Blanchard; Spencer Johnson)
    • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t(Jim Collins)
    • In Extremis Leadership: Leading As If Your Life Depended On It (Thomas A. Kolditz)
    • First In, Last Out: Leadership Lessons from the New York Fire Department (John Salka)
  • Case studies – leadership examples from other fields, places and times:
    • Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (Stephen E. Ambrose)
    • Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War (Robert Coram)
    • Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Doris Kearns Goodwin)
    • San Francisco Is Burning (Dennis Smith)

Thinking Like Leonardo

Leonardo da Vinci

While recently attending the Fire Rescue International Conference in Denver, I took some time one evening and toured the Da Vinci Machines Exhibition at the Denver Pavilions. On loan from the Museum of Leonardo da Vinci in Florence, Italy the exhibit featured more than 60 interactive models based on his original 500-year-old concepts.

All of the models were interesting, featuring Da Vinci’s military and flying machines, and many other tools for productivity. But I found one particular piece of equipment that really hit close to home. The movable Scaling Ladder, designed to be raised and lowered at will, is similar to ladders used by today’s firefighters. It amazes me how many century-old designs remain such a part of our world today.

Something else that struck me in the gift shop was the book How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J. Gelb. Leonardo was a continuous learner, always thinking about how to improve himself and the world around him. I read the book a few years ago and wrote this article based on it called Resolve to Keep Learning.

Probably more valuable than his many scientific and artistic achievements, Da Vinci’s approach to knowledge and learning set the stage for our modern way of thinking both critically and creatively. We need to keep our brains stimulated to allow us to view new challenges in a new light.

Following is a brief overview of Da Vinci’s Seven Principles for solving problems, thinking creatively, and harmonizing your body and mind.

  • Curiosita: An insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning.
  • Dimonstrazione: A commitment to test knowledg through experience, persistence, and a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Sensazione: The continual refinement of the senses, especially sight, as the means to enliven experience.
  • Sfumato: A willingness to embrace ambiguity, paradox, and uncertainty.
  • Arte/Scienza: The development of the balance between science and art, logic and imagination. “Whole-Brain” thinking.
  • Corporalita: The cultivation of grace, ambidexterity, fitness, and poise.
  • Connessione: A recognition of and appreciation for the interconnectedness of all things and phenomena. Systems thinking.

In an age of complexity and chaos, Leonardo da Vinci’s principles continue to exhibit the unlimited potential all of us have to learn and make a difference. Read more about Leonardo!

Like Leonardo, are you asking the right questions? How can you improve your ability to learn? What is your plan for sharpening your senses? How can you nurture the balance of your mind and body?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links on this page are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”