"I want to thank Mike D, Mike G and my fellow panelists, for their courage, forthrightness, and professionalism in this endeavor. They rose to the occasion out of love of country, our fellow firefighters, and our noble profession. - John Alston
Join Capt. Mike Dugan (FDNY) and Capt. Mike Gagliano (Seattle Fire) for a discussion on starting a conversation about issues related to race without getting into conflict.
In particular, we will focus on the likely conversations that will occur in the treatment of the black community in our country and the fire service. To help give insight on doing so successfully, we will be speaking to:
Fire Chief John Alston, New Haven Fire Dept.
Capt. Larry Conley, St. Louis Fire Dept.
Capt. Jon M Goins Jr., Seattle Fire Dept.
Lt. Terri Reid, Baltimore County Fire Dept.
FF Mike Washington, Seattle Fire Dept.
Any perusal of the current stream of news or social media chatter makes it very clear that having conversations about racial issues can be very challenging. Events of the past few weeks make it inevitable that these conversations will be happening amongst your team in the firehouse. While we typically try to minimize these types of discussions at work, the simple fact that we live and work together makes simply ignoring or avoiding the issues impossible.
To provide some tools and tips for firefighters/company officers in how to initiate and have productive and thoughtful dialogue is the goal of our show. The more we can speak to each other in ways that create understanding, even when we strongly disagree with what is being said, the better chance we have of maintaining team unity, operational effectiveness, and relational understanding.
We are not attempting to answer the larger questions and issues being discussed in our society today. A radio show with short segments simply does not allow for the fuller development of ideas needed. But we feel hearing from some of our finest firefighters in the nation discussing how they have had success talking about these difficult areas may provide you with strategies/tactics to use in your own firehouse.
Had it not been for the COVID19 outbreak and life continuing on its merry way, I would have been at #FDIC2020, in Indianapolis, Indiana (God-willing). I was honored to be invited to give the Opening Ceremony Speech, this year. But that was not to be. I want to thank Bobby and the Committee for that honor.
I was, however, rewarded with another honor because of this crisis. I got to see my department the New Haven Fire Department ramp up and stand up to this pandemic. I could not be more proud as a firefighter and Fire Chief. Even though my speech was written for a different time and different place, the values still hold true. You Can Get There From Here. Find the positive. Don't feed the negative. #PatienceNotPanic
There is a new normal forming and we have to be a part of it or be out of step. The difference between dinosaurs and crocodiles is that one of them adapted to their environment and the other became extinct. Take care of yourselves and your families. Learn to Lead Through Crisis and I'll see you on the other side.
I came across this simple but effective presentation about finding and following your passion. Watch until the end. "Stop waiting, start doing". #leadleaderlead
Katherine Thais Ridenhour, retired Battalion Chief, Aurora Fire Department (CO), is passionate about teaching competent and confident leadership on and off the fire ground. Her classes include strategy/tactics, command, conflict solution/problem solving, leadership and promotional preparation.
Katherine’s experience spans 25 years in Tech Rescue, FEMA/USAR, EMS, Training Division, Diversity Board and past President of Women in the Fire Service. She also spent 5 recent years after retirement as a volunteer firefighter and feels privileged to understand the rural side of the fire service. Her passion for presenting exceptional teaching methodologies has earned her multiple requests to teach at various departments, and she is proud to serve the volunteer side of the fire service in that way. She also has extensive teaching at various Department of Defense bases including the United States Air Force Academy, Tyndall Air Force Base and the entire Northwest Navy Region.
Katherine has taught nationally for years at such conferences as FDIC, FRI, the IAFC Metro Chiefs, the IAFF Human Relations and Redmond Symposium, as well as various state conferences.
Despite being retired, she is an avid student of the fire service and keeps current with all the latest trends. She has mentored at least 1000 firefighters to assist them getting promoted to various positions, including Chief of Department and is still sought after for those and her teaching abilities. She is grateful to have had a great career and the opportunity to teach around the nation in order to give back to the fire service.
I had the distinct honor of talking with Chief Ridenhour about her experiences in the Fire Service. Her work on exposing the practice of "Bullying" in our industry is well known, as she is a sought after lecturer and keynote speaker.
Take the time to listen to this in-depth episode that focuses on several issues in our workplace.
The 7th "C" - Courage
The formal publication of this coursework is coming soon. This short clip is from a presentation of "The 7 C's of Fire Officer Trust". . I was finishing up the gig at FDIC. I was grateful for the opportunity to share my life's work in exploring the traits and characteristics of Fire Officers and Leaders that you can trust. Thanks to the curriculum committee of Fire Engineering and the attendees that stopped by to spend some time to discuss this vital topic.
Some people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer; it would be the same in any profession or industry, when you move from worker to supervisor. Just as in the private sector the move and transition is task, role and responsibility specific. In some cases it is even physical…
In most professions, a promotion is seen as a reward. In our industry it is more function specific.
You may go from driver to the other front seat with no controls; driving in a vehicle all alone or be driven by an aide. I have ridden in all of them. Each has its place and each has its own unique perspective.
In my profession people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer
They may be right if:
- You weren't serious about the job or your responsibilities, to begin with.
- You didn't make the investment in yourself to study and become proficient
- You don't like people (the ones you serve or the ones you serve with)
- You are one of the guys/gals and can't distinguish between leader / follower
- You lack the courage to change yourself and circumstances when needed.
I don't want you to think that I am bashing anyone or being cruel. I'm not. Some Officers are honest and tell me that they went for the higher rank, solely, for the higher pay. (To me, that's wrong… although not criminal...and now I'm off the soap box)
There are other reasons for this. I have had the pleasure to work with and speak to hundreds of fire officers in the last thirty years. Each of them brings something unique to the office and many bring the same thing. I am finding more and more that they are tool and task focused, as opposed to the overall operation or mission.
When you make the change, there must also be a transition.
You must understand your role and responsibility.
So, if you are a person aspiring to be an officer or manager:
· Learn your job well, first
· Study and train for the position you seek
· Network with incumbents who have been there, done that and have been successful
· Select and establish rapport with a mentor or role-model
· Focus your efforts with a positive attitude
If you are already that person and not sure:
· Perform a self-audit: “Ask yourself, am I doing all that I can?”
· Study and train to maintain your optimal level of proficiency and knowledge
I was honored to get the nod to keynote at the Connecticut Fallen Fire Fighter's Memorial. Please support this worthy endeavor.
Thanx for the opportunity to highlight the great work of the #NHFD. I hope we can do it again, I feel the interview focused a lot on me. I am more interested in the work that we are doing in the City of New Haven and the incredible job done everyday by the proud men and women of our organization. Thanx to all of the folks who tuned in and for your words of encouragement.
No one gets anywhere on their own. Someone aids, helps, assists or “drives” them to the next level. I appreciate every experience and encounter that I have had. “The Good, The Bad or Indifferent…”