Fire Prevention & Protection, Firefighting, Leadership

Sizing Up the Fireground Leader: How Do You Measure Up?

Issue 7 and Volume 167.

BY STEVEN MILLS Authors, professors, and researchers expend a great deal of time and effort attempting to identify leadership characteristics and theorizing about the “secrets” of successful leaders, but the purpose and application of leadership, rather than random abstract concepts, provide the focus for a leader’s actions, particularly fireground leaders who are often at a disadvantage from the very outset of an incident. At fires and other emergencies, it is not uncommon for firefighters on arrival to find advanced fire conditions, trapped occupants in various locations and degrees of peril, unknown hazards, and fire buildings with preexisting or fire-related structural concerns. Consequently, these uncertain and dynamic situations provide ample opportunities to overwhelm or distract fireground leaders, making it easy to overlook objectives. In addition, when situations are inherently unstable or in crisis, the potential for an undesirable outcome increases. Therefore, leadership is most critical when conditions are at their worst…

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