I’m not sure there’s anyone more focused on the importance of storytelling in the fire service than we are (especially as a means of training our replacements) — but “How stories make firefighting safer” by my good friend Chief Tom LaBelle is a great refresher and reinforcement of this concept.
It’s been a busy past few months as you can tell from the lack of recent posts other than the occasional Tweet on that Twitter thing. Currently, I’m in my last course to complete my masters degree in Public Administration. Look out fish of Lake Erie, because I will be seeing you soon.
Chief Schmittendorf dropped in on Huron, Ohio on his way to present at a class a few weeks back. A group of firefighters met at a local diner with monster sandwiches. We continued on with a quick tour of several firehouses and posed in front of the Erie bush by the county office building.
His message and ability to relate with all firefighters is a great characteristic to have. Are you someone sought after for instruction, advice, and purposeful direction?
At the end of March, I had the chance to head to South Carolina to teach with some rescue greats. Again, this group of seasoned veterans has an amazing ability to mentor, instruct, and train the next generation. Are you preparing your successors to pass on the knowledge for years to come?
The second weekend of April, I had a chance to instruct at an acquired structure burn. It really is inspiring to see the classroom knowledge of new firefighters translate to productive efforts on the training ground. Are you teaching, being innovative, or truly inspired to make the next generation great?
Last, but not least for this quick post is short video from parts of the 2013 FDIC & NFFF stair climb that over 400 firefighters participated in. What an awesome experience to be a part of. Are you training your replacement for the future and teaching them about the traditions and history of years past?
Last night I was sitting in our living room reading a book while the TV was blaring a kids show and my three daughters were partaking in their usual evening game of “make a mess out of the house”. My oldest daughter (7) stopped and said, “Dad you’re a fast reader, your almost done with that book.” I went on to tell her that I am not the fastest reader in the world, but you get faster the more you read. It will soon be a challenge for her to read books faster and faster to keep up with Dad, I’m sure.
In a few years she will understand that by reading you also become better at comprehending, thinking analytically, being adaptive, and writing. For those that are wondering what book I was reading, it was Killing Kennedy by O’Reily and Dugard. Take a deep breath, whether you are a fan of Bill O’Reily or not, the historical data and significance of that fateful day in Dallas, Texas is something worth reading for every American. In addition, the book acknowledges President Kennedy’s 1000 + per minute reading ability. This isn’t the only book on my list to read on my 3 week break from taking college courses for my MPA degree that restarts on January 4.
Here’s the significance to the fire service…many fellow firefighters have asked me what to read, especially the younger or those who see a promotional opportunity in the near future. My usual advice includes:
You should read something about the fire service everyday. Whether it is scrolling through the blog posts, trade magazines, or related news events. Learn something new that you can adapt to how you perform your trade.
You should pick a fire related textbook and read a chapter a shift or once a week. Don’t place a timeline on yourself like a required class. Just read to improve your knowledge base.
The more you read, even as a member of a public service agency, the better you be at comprehending and writing. These are two often-criticized aspects of our service that lesson the perceived level of professionalism. Let’s change that one book at a time.
We all know some great minds in the fire service that have years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to pass on. Some of these seasoned veterans are feeling left behind because of technology. How can you help?
The flip side to training your replacements is training those seasoned veterans so they can easily pass their wealth of knowledge on in a manner that is conducive to the learning styles of the Gen Y’s, Millinials, WebGens, NextGens, Gernation “Whine”, Nexters, and Generation “I”.
Yesterday, one of the greatest rescue guys I know called and vented about his frustration with technology, especially powerpoint and social media. Not that he disliked it, but lacked the knowledge on how to improve his presentations. By the end of the conversation we decided to meet for some technology training that will undoubtedly help him pass the baton with a bit less stress.
This passing of knowledge is cyclical in nature. The seasoned veterans have the knowledge, but may need a little help with this technology thing. We can help each other build a more powerful and knowledgable force.
Reach out to Tiger Schmittendorf or Paul Hasenmeier for more on Training Your Replacement. Book now for 2013 conversations – GENERATIONS UNPLUGGED: Motivating, Training & Leading Today’s Firefighters
This group of videos discusses everything from building your team, improving as a leader, motivation, to safety. Your success is one thing, but what about preparing your followership. You will need about 45 minutes to watch the series, but well worth the time. We look forward to the discussion.