the fire officer trust podcast
Are You Still Thinking From the Jumpseat?

Are You Still Thinking From the Jumpseat?

December 9, 2015

Some people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer; it would be the same in any profession or industry, when you move from worker to supervisor. Just as in the private sector the move and transition is task, role and responsibility specific.  In some cases it is even physical…

In most professions, a promotion is seen as a reward.  In our industry it is more function specific.

You may go from driver to the other front seat with no controls; driving in a vehicle all alone or be driven by an aide. I have ridden in all of them.  Each has its place  and each has its own unique perspective.

In my profession people say that the toughest change or transition for them is from firefighter to officer

They may be right if:

 - You weren't serious about the job or your responsibilities, to begin with.

- You didn't make the investment in yourself to study and become proficient

- You don't like people (the ones you serve or the ones you serve with)

- You are one of the guys/gals and can't distinguish between leader / follower

- You lack the courage to change yourself and circumstances when needed.

I don't want you to think that I am bashing anyone or being cruel. I'm not.  Some Officers are honest and tell me that they went for the higher rank, solely, for the higher pay.  (To me, that's wrong… although not criminal...and now I'm off the soap box)

There are other reasons for this.  I have had the pleasure to work with and speak to hundreds of fire officers in the last thirty years.  Each of them brings something unique to the office and many bring the same thing.  I am finding more and more that they are tool and task focused, as opposed to the overall operation or mission.

When you make the change, there must also be a transition.

You must understand your role and responsibility.

So, if you are a person aspiring to be an officer or manager:

·         Learn your job well, first

·         Study and train for the position you seek

·         Network with incumbents who have been there, done that and have been successful

·         Select and establish rapport with a mentor or role-model

·         Focus your efforts with a positive attitude

If you are already that person and not sure:

·         Perform a self-audit:  “Ask yourself, am I doing all that I can?”

·         Study and train to maintain your optimal level of proficiency and knowledge

FOTRUST PODCAST: Deputy Chief Chris Pepler

FOTRUST PODCAST: Deputy Chief Chris Pepler

May 13, 2014

Deputy Chief Chris Pepler has been on the lecture and training circuit for some time now.  He holds the rank of Deputy Chief and is a 15 year veteran of the Torrington Fire Department, Torrington, Connecticut.  My first encounter with him was when he brought the first NFPA Certified Electric Car Train-the-Trainer course to us in New Jersey.  His delivery was crisp and informing.  I have been impressed with him, since.


Having followed his career has given me a great appreciation for the Instructor and Fire Officer he has become.  Check out the short interview I was able to grab, during our time @FDIC.

The Dangers of Fire Smoke

The Dangers of Fire Smoke

May 9, 2014


Had a chance to talk to Safety Battalion Chief Wayne Smith of the Indianapolis Fire Department about the dangers of fire smoke and his department's "On Mask, All the Time" Policy.  See the whole topic on the "Fire Officer Trust" Blog".

 Listen in!

Interview: Mr. Lee Ireland at the National Fire Academy

Interview: Mr. Lee Ireland at the National Fire Academy

July 9, 2013

While taking another advanced management class, with Mr. Lee Ireland, I was able to get some interview time with him.  Lee has been involved in the Fire Service, Emergency Management, Local Government and an enlightened prolific Author/Teacher.

I have had the profound opportunity to hear him before and the experience is always edifying.  The course I took with him last was the Train-the-Trainer for the National Fire Academy Course, "Shaping the Future".  I can't wait to deliver it!

Listen in, as Lee and I discuss current and future trends in the Fire and Emergency Services realm.

Interview: Dr. Denis Onieal

Interview: Dr. Denis Onieal

June 19, 2013
While attending the 2013 New Jersey Weekend, at the National Fire Academy, I was able to sit down for an informative chat with the Superintendent.  Dr. Denis Onieal and I go way back.  Twenty-eight years to be exact.  He has been a friend and mentor, for equally as long.

Back in the mid to late 80's, Dr Onieal and I worked on several projects for the Jersey City Fie Department, the State of New Jersey and the Federal Government. 

He has always taken a practical and insightful approach, to every project or issue.  His interpersonal skills are, what I think, the essence of his character; he cares about people.

Listen to our brief talk concerning Fire Officers and the future of the Fire Service, in general.

Interview: Chief Eddie Burns

Interview: Chief Eddie Burns

June 11, 2013

I had an information packed and candid conversation with Retired Chief Eddie Burns, of the Dallas Fire Department, Dallas, TX.  I have had the great fortune to team up with Eddie Burns inside and outside of the classroom.  Here he shares keen insight into the successful steps and preparation one must take to be productive and effective as an Executive Fire Officer. He talks about the importance of Competence, Trust and Loyalty.  Listen and let us know what you think.

Interview: Stephanie Denis

Interview: Stephanie Denis

May 4, 2013

This is a brief interview with Lieutenant Stephanie Denis of the Gatineau Fire Service of Canada. We had the opportunity to chat at @FDIC 2013 in Indianapolis.  We discussed several issues and it was great to get another prospective on our beloved profession.

Interview: BC John Mittendorf

Interview: BC John Mittendorf

May 1, 2013

Had the pleasure and privilege of having a chat with Battalion Chief John Mittendorf of Los Angeles.  As always, I am looking to talk to Fire Officers who can share their experiences in our beloved profession.  Listen in and follow us as we continue to bring you information from great fire officers.

Service and a Commitment

Service and a Commitment

October 13, 2012

"A Service and a Commitment". Battalion Chief John Alston, of the Jersey City Fire Department, gives the Keynote Address to the Fire Recruits graduating from the Union County Fire Academy. The ceremonies were held on the campus of Union County College; Cranford Campus.

Keynote - Why Are You Here?

Keynote - Why Are You Here?

October 13, 2012

This is a clip (13 mins.) from the Union County Fire Academy 2011 Graduation Keynote Address, given by John Alston, Training Officer for the Jersey City Fire Department and instructor for the Union County Fire Academy. The graduation took place at Union County Community College, in Cranford, NJ. Grateful for the opportunity to address the recruits and their families, Alston, candidly, shares his experience and lessons learned, with over 26 years in the fire service. The message title, "Why Are You Here?"

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