Drawn by Fire: The Heart of the Matter

Tin man with heart for the fire service

Article by Steve Shaw

Being Intentional on Fire Service Leadership

I am blessed to be involved with our profession at many levels. Whether locally, regionally, at the state level, or nationally, I’m finding one common trend—each area in our fire rescue service is calling for leadership. 

The world of EMS is constantly and rapidly evolving to include mobile integrated healthcare, community paramedicine, and multiple technological advancements—all of which requires the leaders in EMS to step up. The hazmat gurus who created the hazardous materials program as we know it today are vocal in their insistence that the next generation of leaders take the reins and continue the push into the future. The training groups I have been surrounding myself with for years are all preaching the same need—the need for leadership at all levels. 

When I think of leadership, I often return to texts I have read. One that stands out is John Maxwell’s The 21 Laws of Irrefutable Leadership. Law 20 is the Law of Exponential Growth. The first two parts of the Law are individual growth and the develop of teams. The third part focus on developing future leaders. 

I will be the first to say that I should have focused more on this. I have no issue with self development, and I pride myself for the teams I’ve been a part or or have led. But was I intentionally developing leaders? No. It may have happened, but it was not my intent. 

I’m not trying to be self-deprecating, nor am I seeking pity. Rather, I’m taking Law 20 seriously these days. I think beyond myself. And when I think of the teams I am involved with, I think one step further. Am I making sure these individuals are prepared to take my role? Am I focused on succession planning? Am I doing all I can to develop the leaders that our agency and our profession needs? Am I balancing giving each team member attention, while giving them room to breathe and grow? 

This is where I dwell these days: being vocal and intentional about doing my part to help grow our team members into the leaders that our fire rescue service is calling for.

STEPHEN SHAW is the battalion chief of training and special operations for Fort Lauderdale (FL) Fire Rescue (FLFR). He is the FLFR hazmat team coordinator and chair of the Research & Development committee. He chairs the Training & Education Subcommittee for the Fire Chiefs Association of Broward County and is vice chair of the South Florida Local Emergency Planning Committee. He earned his MBA from Florida Atlantic University and is a registered nurse. He is a hazmat specialist for FL-TF2.

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