Dennis Rubin of Fire Chief magazine put together an excellent list of 13 things that can kill the career of a fire chief. Some of them are the types of things I harp on with my fire (and police) clients: changing goals of a community, politics, inattention to detail, ignoring technology.
Interestingly, Rubin was pushed to create the article and a presentation to go with it by former Boston Fire Commissioner Roderick Fraser, who himself was very good at rolling with the often punchy nature of a big city fire department with a powerful union.
Here’s the list:
- Discrimination, harassment and hazing
- Inattention to details of the organization
- Troubled personal life
- Actions not in align with departmental goals and values
- Declining health
- Ignoring technology
- Illegal activity
- Irreconcilable differences with the boss
- Lying about background
- Political suicide
- Political ambition
Revenge is a simple one — Quite simply, don’t take revenge. People, politicians, and the media are watching you all the time. With the advent of social media, information is everywhere.
But at the same time, Ignoring Technology is a huge career killer. Everything from infrared cameras to social media to new extrication tools and truck technology is on the table here. Beyond that, firefighting is not just about FIGHTING FIRES anymore. New technology includes new ways to make money for your department and for your town — ways like ALS, ambulance transportation, and the emergence of paramedicine. These are all conversations that fire chiefs need to have.
Also, keep your personal life at home, but don’t be afraid to walk away during a particularly bad fight. Most importantly, don’t get drunk during a fight, don’t drink and drive, and NEVER let a home battle get physical. I’ve written those stories for the Boston Globe in the past. How are people supposed to trust a fire chief that drives drunk or hits his wife?