FDIC 2013 Interview: Anthony Kastros

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Battalion Chief Anthony Kastros, Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Fire District, who is keynoting during the FDIC 2013 Opening Ceremony on “This is Our Time,” about the whole FDIC “experience.”

DR: What does keynoting at FDIC mean to you?

AK: Giving the FDIC keynote is by far the greatest honor of my fire service career. I am truly humbled by the opportunity to speak to the American fire service. FDIC is the most significant, comprehensive, and intensive fire service event in the world! It is the Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA championship all wrapped up in one week. The largest number of firefighters comes for the largest selection of training events anywhere in the world. In addition, the social events, networking, vendors, and countless other opportunities make FDIC my favorite fire service event of the year. To keynote at this event will forever be a high point in my career.

DR: How did you pick your keynote topic?

AK: Not easily! There are so many critical issues that are affecting the fire service today in an unprecedented way. It is like the perfect storm of factors that make this era unlike any other. With that in mind, I chose to speak about this being “Our Time.”That umbrella will cover so many of these issues with an approach that I hope will be fresh to the audience.

DR: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?

AK: I have been teaching for 24 years. I love to teach and found that even early in my career there was a need to constantly bring up those coming up behind me. Mentoring and teaching are synonymous.Even new firefighters have someone to teach and mentor, whether it’s a probationary member or someone who just wants to learn more about becoming a firefighter. It’s as much a mindset as a skill set.

DR: How many years have you been attending FDIC? What do you look forward to at FDIC each year?

AK: I have been going to FDIC for 13 years. I look forward most to seeing old friends and making new ones. As much as I learn each year by attending workshops, I learn just as much from networking with the amazing people outside of the formal training.

DR: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?

AK: If this is your first time, congratulations! You are about to enter a world of knowledge, wisdom, and enlightenment that borders on the sublime. You will never forget it, so soak in every opportunity to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and always be willing to share, even if you are brand new to the job. We all have a lot to gain from each other. The newer folks can help us older folks to stay tuned into what is important from your perspective. With each passing generation, things change and we must listen to the new members coming on board.

If you have never attended and are still pondering whether or not to make the trek, I strongly urge you to beg, borrow, and steal (so to speak), if necessary, to attend. You will be inspired, enlightened, and encouraged to be your best and leave with an unquenchable thirst for more knowledge.

DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?

AK: Leadership is the most pressing issue. While we pay the word a lot of lip service, true leadership training and mentoring are grossly missing, and we are going to continue to pay a huge price as our experienced leaders leave with suitcases full of wisdom and knowledge that are not being properly passed down. Our new officers are learning as they go, on the job, with little or no formal training prior to taking their new job. We give new recruits 16 weeks of academy training and paramedics six months of training, but new officers usually get little to no training. A paramedic can only kill one person at a time due to negligence; an officer can kill many. This is our time to change the mental paradigm toward leadership and succession planning in the American fire service!

Keynote for Opening Ceremony

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

8:00 am-10:00 am

Sagamore Ballroom

Indiana Convention Center

This is Our Time

Battalion Chief Anthony Kastros, Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Fire District

Every generation is defined after it has passed. The “Great Generation” from World War II, “Baby Boomers” and “Gen X” are all well-defined by now. As fire service leaders, This is Our Time! We must recognize the opportunity that lies at our feet. We must define who we are or it will be defined for us after we are gone. We stand in the ashes of a post-9/11 American fire service that is plagued with staffing and budget cuts, apathy, and greater public scrutiny. Meanwhile, our experienced members are retiring at an alarming rate while our mission has expanded. WE are the ones who will carry on the fight. The motto “Never Forget” must be forged with the promise: “Never Give Up!” We DO make a difference. Training DOES matter. We WILL save lives and restore hope to Americans, one drill and one call at a time. This is how we will be remembered, for This is OUR time!

Anthony Kastros is a 26-year veteran of the fire service and a battalion chief with Sacramento (CA) Metropolitan Fire District. He is author of the DVD series, Mastering Fireground Command — Calming the Chaos! and the book/video series, Mastering the Fire Service Assessment Center, both from Fire Engineering. Currently assigned to the line, he also manages the Metro Fire Command Training Center. Kastros is the host of The Command Show on Fire Engineering Radio. He spent four years on a Type 1 Incident Management Team and 10 years on the Sacramento Urban Search & Rescue FEMA Task Force, responding to New York on 9/11. Kastros teaches leadership, command, strategic planning, and officer development for departments throughout America. He has a bachelor of science degree in business and human resource management and an associate of science degree in fire technology. He is a California state certified fire officer.

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