Tips for the Chief's

Let me start by saying I have been both a Battalion Chief and Assistant Chief before retiring as a Captain, that's a different blog. I have sat in countless meetings, heard countless gripes and witnessed both strong and weak leadership skills over my 35 plus years in the fire service. I have worked for some incredible Fire Chiefs and I'm proud to say I know even more. I understand the constant demands on a Chief's time, the barrage of paperwork, the petty personnel issues, equipment problems, payroll, supplies, turn-out time reports, monthly reports, budgets and the list goes on & on!


Yes, I understand it and lived it. Being a Chief Officer is not an easy job, but you asked for the position or accepted the promotion, now deal with it.


As a Chief Officer I made hundreds of mistakes and learned some very tough lessons along the way. It doesn't matter what level of Chief Officer you are, how many degrees you have, how long you've been a Chief or how many NFA class certificates you have. These tips are from experience and hopefully it will help some of you that are currently Chief Officers and those that inspire to be.


Your bugles do not impress people and they do not put out fires!

Threats don't work.

If you can't say it to their face, don't say it behind their backs.

Clean something.

Buy a meal and wash a dish.

Remember where you came from.

Wear a T-shirt.

Participate in Company drills.

Keep up your skills.

Work and practice on your communication skills.

Stop, sit, shut-up and listen.

Your younger members are the future, mentor them.

Help load hose.

Help with overhaul after the fire.

Get dirty.

Ask questions.

Evaluate yourself.

Attend a firefighter conference.

Read something everyday.

Stay up to date with the fire service.

Hot wash every fire and learn from both the positive and negative.

Build relationships and trust with every member you can.

Be honest, no matter how much it hurts.

Be an instructor and student.

Don't take any shit from the mutts on your job.

A good ass chewing is better then any piece of paper.

Be fair.

Enthusiasm and positivity can change minds and hearts.

It's not about you.

Safety is achieved by education and training, not avoidance!

Be the reason people come and stay.

Be and always stay humble!


I understand there is nothing earth shattering on this list and most as been heard before. However, as a former Chief Officer everything on this list works and builds strong companies, successful companies and top shelf firefighters/leaders!


Keep Training!










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