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You Don’t Have Just One Situational Awareness, You Have Three

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway

Situational awareness is developed from capturing clues and cues in your environment — perception. Then you strive to understand what those clues and cues mean — comprehension. Once you have done that, the highest level of situational awareness is developed from making predictions of future events — projection. Perception, comprehension and projection are the foundation of situational awareness.

Responders seeking to develop and maintain situational awareness will benefit from understanding there are three distinctly different, yet equally important situational awarenesses: Personal, Team and Incident.

Personal
Personal situational awareness achieved by developing and maintaining an awareness of your personal abilities and inabilities, your strengths and weaknesses, your knowledge and deficiencies, your motivators, fears and phobias. In other words, making an honest assessment of yourself. This allows you to predict the future of your success and the areas where your success may be challenged.

Team
Team (or Company if you prefer) situational awareness is achieved by developing and maintaining and awareness of the same criteria listed above for personal awareness, just applied to all members of your team. This allows you improve your understanding and expectation of success and challenges that your team may experiences.

Incident
The final awareness is incident-wide awareness. This awareness comes from understanding you, and your team, are only one component of a larger system working in unison to accomplish a common goal. This awareness helps ensure all individuals and teams are operating in a coordinated way.

Firefighters should discuss, in advance, how to develop and maintain situational awareness. These discussions should address how situational awarenesses are lost and how they are regained if they are lost.

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision making processes used by first responders. In addition to his 30+ year career in the fire service (including 22 years as a fire chief), Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. He can be reached at Support@RichGasaway.com.

Incident Commanders: Getting Eyes on the Problem

Blog by Ed Hadfield
www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com

Incident Commanders are often tasked with taking command of an active incident that has developed prior to their arrival. I’m sure all of us have been exposed to those that have called a second alarm from the bunk room based upon reports from dispatch only to discover it was a dumpster fire behind an industrial building, not actually a working fire in an industrial building.

We use this as an analogy to shed light on actions based upon perception, not actions based upon reality.

Individuals who lack the basic understanding of fire ground functions will often base their decisions on a limited view of the situation, rather than a comprehensive view. This is why the old “capture a 360-degree of the structure philosophy” becomes an important ingredient to our success model.

It’s important for all officers in command to capture a complete “360″or delegate to another qualified officer to acquire accurate feedback on the conditions of the structure and the growth of the incident during the first few minutes while establishing an action plan.

This continuous analysis of the situation must become a component of the overall action plan. Adjustments may need to be made based upon feedback received or the evidence visualized. Remember, the building has seven sides, the four exterior walls, the roof, the basement (if applicable) and the interior.

This information will allow you and others the basis to establish a comprehensive and plan for the incident. Equally important is structure identification and understanding building and rescue profiles, as part of the foundation of effective operations on the fire ground.

Given the dynamics of today’s fires and the events of extreme fire behavior in which we operate, the understanding of Hostile Event Recognition, and the understanding of pressure as it relates to rapid fire progression, is important information to be relayed to the incident commander. Particularly in high-volume, big box and wide-rise type structures where hostile events occur in the overhead at explosive levels that can create structural failure in the roof assembly.

As mentioned, the fire ground functions on seven sides. One critical area that is often overlooked is the placement of personnel on the roof of the structure to give the Incident Commander a realistic look from above. Placing personnel on the roof of a structure will provide information to the Incident Commander in order to determine the ability to remain in the offensive position, or take a defensive posture on the fire.

Remember, “If it’s unsafe to be on the roof, it’s unsafe to be under the same roof. This is not to say all occupancies will receive the vertical ventilation treatment. However, Incident Commanders will do themselves a great service by getting a good read on the structure and eyes on the fire by going top-side.

About the Author
Ed Hadfield has more than 26 years of fire service experience after rising through the ranks from firefighter to division chief. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, sharing his experiences within the fire service and also with corporate and civic leaders throughout the United States. For more on Hadfield, please check online at www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com.

 

Is it Time to Look Under Your Organization’s Hood

By Doug Cline
Vice President of ISFSI

An ill-maintained vehicle is an accident waiting to happen, right? We all know it takes more than just satisfactory driving skills to keep drivers from having accidents on our roadways. For drivers to be safe, vehicles need to be in excellent working condition. The tires need tread, the engine needs oil and the brakes need pads for everything to run smoothly.

It makes sense, then, that if you want your organization to run like a well-oiled automobile, it needs to be treated like one. And now may be the time to look under your organization’s hood to make sure there is no damage to your hoses and belts or in this case, personnel, policies, equipment, operating guidelines, etc.

If it’s your first time to check under your organization’s hood, you’ll probably be unfamiliar with all the numerous parts inside your organization. But if you make it a frequent practice to check on how everything is working, you’ll be able to instantly identify all the different issues and problems. It’s a good idea to procure a model and use it to evaluate any loose connections that might have occurred in your organization.

One common model that is recognized throughout the fire service is the Center for Public Safety Excellences Commission on Fire Accreditation International. Even if you are not looking to become an accredited organization, the self-assessment approach has proven solid.

There are numerous practical benefits your agency will see in utilizing a self-assessment program. The hardest component is to be honest in your assessment. If done properly, the self-conducted performance evaluation will result in increased efficiency for your organization, provided the findings are applied to the planning and implementation of activities.

Here are some of the benefits to conducting a self-assessment for fire departments:

>> Quality improvement through a continuous self-assessment process

>> Providing a detailed evaluation of the services it provides to the community

>> Identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in the organization

>> A methodology for building on strong points and addressing deficiencies

>> Providing for department growth for programs, services and member capabilities

>> Fostering pride in an organization, from department members, community leaders and citizens

Through self-assessment, a systematic evaluation can be completed to determine what is currently happening in the organization. From there, you can determine whether or not the organization is meeting its goals, commensurate with its responsibilities.

The assessment process is astounding in the clarity it brings an organizations leaders and members not only regarding how the organization currently works, but how the various parts are interrelated and its overall state of health. The most important thing to come out of a self-assessment for fire departments, however, is discovering what needs to be done to make improvements. With this information in hand, you will be able to target and prioritize opportunities for change.

About the Author
Douglas Cline, a 32-year veteran and student of the Fire Service, serves as assistant chief of operations with Horry County Fire Recue (S.C.). Cline, a former fire chief, is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. Chief Cline is the President of the Southeastern Association of Fire Chiefs (SEAFC), a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire and Rescue Instructors and the1st Vice President International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). Cline serves on the FEMA grant criteria development committee, Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) National Advisory Committee and peer reviewer for the Fire Act Grants.

 

Duties of a Training Officer: Never Stop Experimenting

Blog by Brian Ward
Chief of Emergency Operations, Training Director for Georgia Pacific, Madison, Ga.

I recently had the opportunity to manage the Training Officers Desk Reference for a Jones and Bartlett publication. Despite having been a training officer for a few years, I had never really considered all the various areas a training officer must be versed. As I reviewed this process and determined the critical areas to focus on, it was amazing to recollect the amount of knowledge and aptitude that accompany this role.

As a training officer, you have a responsibility to exhibit solid interpersonal skills, computer skills, knowledge of performance metrics, generational issues, alternative-learning methods, strategic planning, investigations and budgets, just to name a few.

How can one person be proficient in all of these areas? The answer is continuous education and experimentation. Continuous education is easy. We have to constantly be willing to learn new methods and research technological advancements. However, the experimenting aspect can be much more difficult.

We should never experiment during investigations and budgets; however we can experiment with alternative learning methods such as computer-based learning, tactical decisions games, conferences and more. We can also experiment with altering classes based on the generations served inside and outside of the classroom.

As a training officer, we have to be willing to try these new methods. Some will work, some will not, but you will learn from your experiences. This, in conjunction with your continuous education will prove to be extremely valuable with your influence inside your department and within your region.

It will also lend credibility and respect for your programs and classes as your students will respect your efforts to provide information in new and enlightening ways.

As always, train hard, take care and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is the chief of emergency operations and training director for Georgia Pacific, Madison, Ga. He is a past training officer for Gwinnett County, Ga., chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the ISFSI Board of Directors Director At Large and Lead Live Fire Credentialing Instructor. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH. He has an associate’s degree in fire science and a Fire Safety and Technology Engineering Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati. He is the founder of FireServiceSLT.com and Georgia Smoke Diver #741.

 

Taking the Right Steps at a Hazmat Incident

Blog by Michael de Guzman
Captain, San Diego Fire-Rescue

If you come up on a hazmat incident, you need to know what to do or better yet, you need to know what not to do. What I tell people is to keep things basic and know your limits.

In the fire service, acronyms are often used to help first responders remember response actions. For Hazmat incidents remember S.I.N.

S
Safety
I
Isolate
N
Notify

Lets break each item of SIN during Hazmat Incidents:

Safety: Your first thought in everything you do should always be safety. To ensure a safe response, its good to assume the worst. Remember to take account of all information given on the dispatch. Make sure you consider all of the environmental factors on your approach to the scene and protect yourself with PPE (personal protective equipment).

Responding upwind, uphill and upstream with the windows up and HVAC shut off on the apparatus
will assure no exposure to responding units. Additionally, using SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus) will assure firefighter safety. Inhalation is the No. 1 cause of exposure so be sure to take these precautions.

Isolate: Its critical to restrict the entry inside the perimeter of the release, known as the Hot Zone. Perimeters are determined using the Emergency Response Guidebook. Isolate any contaminated victims within the perimeter until they may be decontaminated by properly protected personnel.

Firefighters in PPE and SCBA should have a hose line outside the Hot Zone and be ready to decontaminate victims or personnel as needed. Firefighters should avoid any contact with product and decontaminate themselves if necessary by using ample amounts of water.

Removing clothing eliminates 90 percent of the contamination from victims. But preventing the spread of a product can be very challenging since victims tend to flee the scene to seek emergency care or proceed home. Contamination beyond the incident of origin may compromise an ambulance and hospital. Obviously, it can harm people if infected. A useful tool is the Public Address (PA) system on the apparatus. Use it to give victims instructions from a distance while staying protected inside your rig.

Notification: Notify the proper resources to respond to the incident. Typically, its the Hazardous Materials Team that is the priority notification. Notifying the Hazmat Team will get the resources needed for these responses.

First Responder Operational (FRO) firefighters are not trained to the level of hazmat mitigation. The response requires equipment and expertise that only the hazmat team can deliver. First responders usually do not have proper training, capabilities and equipment, so its important that they don’t jeopardize themselves by trying to do too much.

Remembering S.I.N. during initial response will help ensure hazmat incidents are properly handled.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on TargetSolutions’ Command Post website on Oct. 28, 2010.

About the Author
Michael de Guzman has worked with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for the majority of his 20-plus years in the fire service. He is a Hazmat instructor with a degree in economics from the University of California San Diego.

Shared Situational Awareness for First Responders Safety

Blog by Dr. Richard B. Gasaway
Web Master for Situational Awareness Matters
www.SAmatters.com

Shared situational awareness for first responders simply means two or more responders have a common understanding of what is happening. Formally, it means responders have a shared mental model. A mental model is the image formed in the brain of what is happening and, perhaps even more importantly, what is going to happen in the future.

Each responder that arrives at the scene of an emergency uses perception to capture clues and cues about what is happening. Since responders can look at the same thing and see something different, their situational awareness may be very different. When responder’s situational awareness is not aligned it can lead to challenges in teamwork and, subsequently, safety problems.

It is quite common for responders to arrive at emergency scenes at different times. As each subsequent arriving responder assesses the scene, it is entirely possible (even predictable) they will develop a different awareness of the situation. This broad-scale variation in understanding can cause significant teamwork and incident-wide safety problems.

The safety of responders can be compromised when individuals and teams assume there is a common understanding of what is happening. Simple exercises conducted in a classroom setting can show how easy it is for this to happen. The problem of responders not having shared situational awareness can be complicated when it is assumed everyone is on the same page.

Imagine if you arrived at a movie 10 minutes after it started. Those who have been in the theater from the beginning have a different understanding of what’s going on than you have because they benefited from capturing all of the clues and cues from the start. Unless you get a briefing, you are going to be at a disadvantage and it may be hard for you to fully understand what is happening.

The person in the best position to have a comprehensive situational awareness is the incident commander. The commander’s awareness will be strongest if they arrive early in the incident or if they receive a comprehensive briefing prior to assuming command. The individual who has been in a position to see the big picture incident (and all of its changes) from the start, in real-time, will likely have the best situational awareness.

The big picture commander will also have a good understanding of the speed of the incident — a critical component to ensuring responder safety. The commander, or their designee, can provide progress and update reports for other responding units and provide critical information to responders as they arrive. It is very difficult to have shared situational awareness when newly arriving responders think they know what’s going on when, in fact, they may be clueless (literally).

About the Author
Dr. Gasaway is widely considered to be one of the nation’s leading authorities on situational awareness and decision making processes used by first responders. In addition to his 30+ year career in the fire service (including 22 years as a fire chief), Dr. Gasaway has a second passion: Uncovering and applying research in brain science for the benefit of first responders. His website is: Situational Awareness Matters (www.SAMatters.com). He can be reached at Support@RichGasaway.com.

 

Implementing Crew Resource Management for the Fire Service

Blog by Brian Ward
Officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia

In a recent article, I discussed the components of Crew Resource Management (CRM). I tried to show how CRM can increase safety and efficiency on the fire ground. I also examined CRMs five major components: situational awareness, teamwork, communication, decision making, and barriers.

With this article, I’m going to try and show how you can integrate these components into a structured training session. These types of training scenarios can be used at the company level or in a more formal fire academy course.

One of the most important aspects of training is the application or the level of versatility that a certain type of training can produce. As a training officer, I look for training that can be used in multiple applications. I also seek training that is effective and cost efficient.

With the setup recommended in this article, you will need to build a story of a task or operation in your mind. By using this training method, your crew will retain more information than by just reading about an operation or by watching it performed. The two examples below are low cost and can be conducted mostly with items already in the station.

Medical Training
Allow your officers to perform a mock cardiac arrest, with a plot, in the station. The plot or story should be developed beforehand and should provide information similar to that shared by dispatch.

The company should be notified in advance and take the apparatus out of service for about 30 minutes. The firefighters and paramedics will start in their apparatus as if they just pulled up at the incident and then the time starts.

They jump off the apparatus, grab their equipment, and start working. There is some stress added with this being a timed event, just as we are timed in the field.

As the team performs the scenario, some things just flow while others have to be said. Details such as starting IVs, obtaining vitals, setting up the AED, and getting all of the equipment ready are signs a team has performed together before. This allows the lead paramedic to worry about more important details, like benchmarks, intubation, and drug dosages.

After the scenario, the officer critiques the crew on what they did well and where they could improve.

Fire Training
Another easy opportunity for training with CRM involves conducting scenario-based fire training. Throw out a problem-like a single family dwelling with fire on Side A, put a picture up on the screen or wall, and let the firefighter handle the incident.

Scenario based training is some of the best training firefighters can receive without actually being real. If the firefighter leading the training wishes to add a sense of stress to the scenario, start timing the incident to force decisions to be made, and have the other crew members participate as responding apparatus.

In order to force decisions and create pressure, the entire scenario should run between six to 12 minutes, according to the level of difficulty. Constructive criticism should be provided in a formal manner as well.

After completion of the scenario, make sure that the IC can identify the task and location of all personnel. Confirm that safety concerns were met and that benchmarks according to your standard operating procedures were identified.

Performing these types of scenarios at the company level will prepare our crews for the battles we face. However, never neglect the basics of our job, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), fire behavior, or building construction.

The understanding of these basics will lead to us performing successfully on the fire ground or the medical call. Other alternatives can be used for these scenarios as well, such as magazine covers, close call stories, and NIOSH reports.

As always train hard, take care, and be safe.

About the Author
Brian Ward is an engineer/acting officer with Gwinnett County Fire Department in Georgia. He is a past training officer, chairman of the Metro Atlanta Training Officers and currently serves on the Honeywell Advisory Council. He is a State of Georgia Advocate for Everyone Goes Home and the Membership Task Force Co-Chair and Live Fire Instructor for ISFSI. Brian was recently awarded the National Seal of Excellence from the NFFF/EGH.

Media and the Fire Service: What You Need to Know

Blog by Stuart Sprung
Training Specialist, Oceanside Fire Department

If you’re like me, you’ve probably never been able to make one of those PIO (Public Information Officer) training classes or seminars. As a result, your training on how to handle the media during incidents is limited to those fleeting moments when a reporter’s microphone is in your face.

If you’re in the fire department, and this hasn’t happened to you yet, rest assured, it will one day. Here are a few things to keep in mind when that day comes:

Just about every department has its own policy for handling media requests. Its important to know your policy and understand the ramifications of straying from it.

Each department should have a point person, or a public information officer (PIO), who is trained and experienced with interacting with the media. If you’re working at a fire or other major incident, stopping to interact with the press is not your priority, and could even be unsafe for you, your co-workers and even the media. So whenever you are asked to stop and comment, its best to politely direct them toward the PIO, battalion chief or whoever it is that is responsible for this duty.

PIOs know what to say, they understand the bigger picture, and they have all the facts. It’s key to keep the information being distributed consistent and accurate. There have been incidents in the past where an organization didn’t have the proper structure for dealing with the press and the wrong message was disseminated. That can turn into a political nightmare, so be careful.

That being said, it’s also very important to understand that a good rapport with the media is crucial. Although it’s the PIOs job to nurture their relationship with the media, we have to remember that we are all public representatives for our agencies.

For most incidents, a fire department PIO will use a press release, with specific details about an emergency, to distribute information. This helps keep the media from digging around and funnels questions back to one person, the PIO.

One thing for the fire department PIO to remember is that accuracy is his main priority with any and all information released. Small details, like the exact spelling of a name, are vitally important for reporters. The information reporters need to do their job is rather simple — who, when, where, what, why and how — but it has to be accurate. PIOs will feel pressure to get information out quickly, because time is crucial for reporters, but accuracy must come first.

If someone in the press approaches you after a serious accident, where there may have been a fatality or a serious injury, its absolutely paramount you don’t offer up any opinions. Saying the wrong thing can be used against you and your department. Again, by far your best move is to tell the reporter to speak with the PIO.

Another important consideration is the safety of the media themselves during potentially dangerous incidents. Although reporters and camera operators are for the most part professional and maintain a safe, respectful distance, there are times when they are unaware of hazards. While the police are very knowledgeable and effective at maintaining crowd control, sometimes they are overwhelmed or otherwise occupied.

So it becomes everybody’s job to maintain a safe scene. If you happen to notice a media member too close to a potentially hazardous scene, don’t be afraid to make contact with them, and courteously inform them of the hazard. Also, do not hesitate to inform your company officer or IC. Keep in mind that the media have rights to a presence in the public domain. In fact, unless its a crime scene, there are virtually no limitations to how close they can come. The most we can do is to inform them why its unsafe, and in my experience, they respond favorably to direction.

Lastly, don’t forget that your fire department can use the media for your own purposes as well. In a recent twin-engine plane crash in Oceanside, Calif., it only took one hour to recreate the events that led to the crash through eyewitness accounts that were given through the media and discussion boards attached to the story’s articles.

The day of real-time information is here, and we can use it to better understand why certain emergencies happen.

About the Author
After graduating from the University of California, San Diego Stuart Sprung completed his paramedic training and joined the San Francisco fire department as a firefighter/paramedic. He also worked as a flight medic for FEMA. The next 16 years gave him experience responding to thousands of federal, state, and local emergencies. Stu currently functions as a commercial pilot for a financial institution. He is now a fire training specialist for the Oceanside Fire Department.

The Life and Times of the ‘Inside Man’

Blog by Ed Hadfield
www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com

As a member assigned to a truck or engine you will be tasked with a variety of objectives. Many require operating somewhat independently. Case in point, the duties of being the Inside Man, or as I like to call it, the Interior Situational Awareness Officer.

Now I understand this is a mouthful, but the concept is more important than the name. Generally, the Inside Man is responsible for bringing a blower to the door, pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead, coordinating the use of PPV with vertical ventilation and working with the fire attack team to do search duties. This job is very important in the overall success of an operation.

This assignment, however, should have a direct link to the Incident Commander, providing him with accurate data to understand the situation from within, rather than from the exterior of the structure a block away.

This person would be responsible for conducting an outside exterior scan of the structure. Any identifiable structural collapse considerations, hostile-event recognition factors or roof assembly exposures would be immediately communicated to the Incident Commander and the companies operating in the interior.

Additionally, building profile identification is key and would include the age and type of the structure. This determines the fires strengths and weaknesses based upon the building profile and construction components.

In addition, the conditions at the point of egress must be taken into consideration. Reading the rapid development of pressurization should be communicated if it is a threat to the safety of personnel on the interior.

The use of a TIC should also be considered as a tool to determine fire in the overhead and potential collapse in the area of main egress from the structure. While making that determination it is important to identify the proper use of PPV.

Remember there are five recognizable elements in determining if PPV is appropriate or not. If any of these five exists, PPV should not be considered as the primary source of ventilation.

1) Working an attic fire or a fire in an overhead concealed space that would impinge upon roof features while personnel are inside the interior of the structure.

2) Unknown location of the fire or an inability to locate the fire by interior crews.

3) Inability or lack of an adequate-sized exhaust portal for PPV usage.

4) Imminent or confirmed rescue of a civilian or down firefighter.

5) Structure that is over-pressurized for the use of PPV or rapid fire development.

All of the considerations above are generally recognized by the Inside Man while performing exterior job assignments. This helps them make adjustments to their plan and provide a higher degree of safety for interior personnel with concise communications to the Incident Commander.

Once the Inside Man transitions to the interior of the structure, their threat analysis increases. First, their understanding of the roof assembly and the destructive effects of fire and exposure to fire on these features need to be forefront. In addition to pulling ceilings in the immediate overhead of the main access point with a scan of the assembly, both visually and TIC assisted, it’s important to identify the number of hoselines through the access point and the number of personnel assigned to the hoselines.

NIOSH Firefighter Data and Injury Report Data has shown that two or more hoselines through an access portal create a spaghetti-like impact that increases the odds of personnel failing to egress out of a structure on their hoselines in the event of a hostile event or collapse situation.

Recognizing this, corrective action may be taken to minimize this potential. Keeping hoselines pulled straight and tight, while providing ample egress portals will reduce the risk of injury and entrapment of interior personnel.

The Inside Man’s ability to identify rapid fire development within the structure, based upon changing interior conditions, reports from the roof division as to progress and conditions of ventilation heat holes and firefighter access holes in common corridors or center hallways, along with the exterior size-up communications from the I-RIC companies, determine the next course of action.

One simple task is to first determine the location of interior crews and identify both accountability and air management of those personnel while sizing up the area they are actively involved in firefighting activity, search procedures or fire extension activities.

Along with the normal assigned task, the Inside Man becomes the interior eyes and ears of the Incident Commander. Historically this has been tasked to a senior Company Officer assigned on a hoseline or an interior position. However, with split-company operations in limited to zero visibility environments, the Inside Man can double the effective safety envelope by following those above actions for the Incident Commander.

As well as the possibility of those assigned interior crews being limited in their ability to identify critical safety factors previously discussed due to task overload.

It may seem like an impossible situation for the Inside Man to accomplish all these objective, bear in mind, it’s a simple algorithm to follow based upon facts, presentations, input, information and task expectations and outcomes.

As always, Sit back and enjoy the Cuppa!

About the Author
Ed Hadfield has more than 26 years of fire service experience after rising through the ranks from firefighter to division chief. He is a frequent speaker on leadership, sharing his experiences within the fire service and also with corporate and civic leaders throughout the United States. For more on Hadfield, please check online at www.firetowntrainingspecialist.com.

Showing Leadership and Influencing Others

Blog by Doug Cline
International Society of Fire Service Instructors, Vice President

An officer best exemplifies leadership by devoting a major portion of his/her time to help stimulate improvement in both subordinates and the organization.

Today’s leaders are utilizing contemporary leadership styles: charismatic leadership, transformational leadership, transactional leadership and symbolic leadership. Officers need to know when to use each of these styles for optimum outcomes within the organization.

Charismatic: Inspires followers to be loyal and creates an enthusiastic vision that others work to attain.

Transformational: This style depends on the continuous learning, innovation and change within the organization. True transformational leadership is a rare quality.

Transactional: Involves an exchange between the leader and the followers in which the followers perform tasks effectively in exchange for rewards provided by the leader.

Symbolic: Bases theory on a strong organizational culture that holds common values and beliefs. Leadership starts are the top of the organization and extends downward. Subordinates must have full faith and trust in the leadership of the organization.

It is important that leaders be able to match and effectively utilize any of these various leadership styles, based on the types of individuals they are leading, to effectively lead their fire department or company.

This focuses on truly understanding the organizational theories, interpersonal dynamics and group dynamics of the individuals and groups that make up the organization. If you look at it closely, you will find most leaders utilize multiple leadership styles on individuals of the group simultaneously to effectively achieve desired outcomes.

Each of these leadership styles are a result of the various traits of an organization’s leaders. It’s important for officers to know the strengths and weaknesses of each theory and style, along with being capable of applying the principles that are most appropriate in any given situation.

About the Author
Douglas Cline is a student of the fire service serving as training commander with the City of High Point (N.C.) Fire Department and assistant chief of administration with the Ruffin Volunteer Fire Department. Cline is a North Carolina Level II Fire Instructor, National Fire Academy Instructor and an EMT-Paramedic instructor/coordinator for the North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services. Cline is a member of the North Carolina Society of Fire Service Instructors and the International Society of Fire Service Instructors where he serves on the Board of Directors as The First Vice President.