FDIC Conference Director Diane Feldman recently spoke with Chief Steve Kraft, Richmond Hill Fire & Emergency Services, Ontario, Canada, who is keynoting during the FDIC 2012 Opening Ceremony on "Be a Leader, Not Just a Position!" about the whole FDIC "experience."
DF: What does keynoting at FDIC mean to you?
SK: Keynoting at FDIC 2012 is an incredible honor. There is no bigger stage. As a presenter, you always wonder where you will end up, and I can tell you there is no larger reward than presenting at the Opening Ceremony. Words cannot explain what this opportunity means.
DF: How did you pick your keynote topic?
SK: I've been teaching "Be a Leader, Not Just a Position" for the past four years at FDIC and around Canada. I have always received amazing comments from people in attendance at the conclusion of the training. Because of this, it's a natural presentation for me to give. I believe this topic is relevant and one of the most sought-after training topics for many fire departments around North America.
DF: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?
SK: I have been teaching since the mid-1990s. Even as a firefighter on the trucks, I was a first aid/CPR instructor and a defibrillator instructor. Shortly after becoming an officer, I started teaching at the Ontario Fire College, where I taught many different firefighting courses. Over the past five years, I've been traveling, teaching leadership to anyone that will listen.
DF: How many years have you been attending FDIC? What do you look forward to at FDIC each year?
SK: I have been attending FDIC since 2003. During my first few years, I just soaked up as much information as possible, attending as many sessions as possible in six days. It's absolutely incredible to sit through a course being taught by the most respected and credible instructors in the work. I look forward to meeting new people and learning. This is the best place to learn about new technology and tactics. The fire service is changing every day, and if you don't learn something new daily you're not reading enough about this great profession.
DF: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?
SK: My message is, don't sleep! Attend as many training sessions as you can. Meet as many people as you can. If you've been given the opportunity to attend FDIC, absorb as much information as possible and bring the information back to your department. When you get back home, start talking (and even teaching) about new ideas and concepts.
DF: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?
SK: I think the biggest issue in the fire service is the lack of great leadership. We have lost (and continue to lose) so many great people, and it's only going to get worse. We need leaders to step up and replace what we've lost. Before I go too far with this issue, I have to say that many management teams are not doing enough to train their officers. So, I'm not faulting individual officers. I'm faulting many of our systems. This is probably the biggest complaint I hear when I travel: the lack of officer training. The only thing we can do about this is TRAIN! Of course, this is much easier said than done, but it's the only answer. Most departments spend years training firefighters how to become great firefighters, but rarely do we find departments that invest hours (let alone years) in training firefighters how to be officers.
Keynote for Opening Ceremony
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
8:00 am-10:00 am
Indiana Convention Center
Be a Leader, Not Just a Position!
Chief Steve Kraft, Richmond Hill Fire & Emergency Services, Ontario, Canada
In today's environment, it's not just the chief who needs to step up and lead. Everyone MUST lead in a responsible manner to ensure our fire departments are the very best they can be. We are not leading the same fire departments our predecessors led 20 years ago; things have changed. So how do we go about inspiring and motivating our members? We do this by everyone leading. All of our members need to take responsibility for their fire departments and their companies/battalions. Additionally, all members must be accountable for their own actions. To do this, you need to have the right attitude (and aptitude) day in and day out. Is this difficult? Absolutely, but you have no choice. It's not too late to step up and Be a Leader, Not Just a Position!
Steve Kraft is a 24-year member and chief of Richmond Hill Fire & Emergency Services in Ontario, Canada. He has completed the certificate in fire service leadership course though Dalhousie University; is a graduate of the fire protection technologist course through the Ontario Fire College; and is completing his diploma in public administration at Western University. He is a seconded and associate instructor at the Ontario Fire College. He has been published in Fire Engineering and has written for Fire Fighting in Canada. He has been a guest speaker at several venues, including the Northern Ontario Fire Education Conference, Firecon in Thunder Bay, and the British Columbia Training Officers Association and has lectured at many fire departments across Ontario.
For more info or to register, visit http://www.fdic.com.