I am a firm believer that “Leaders are Readers”. With the rapid pace the fire service takes these days, and its transition to more scientific research, and an emphasis on analytical data for decision making it is impossible to keep up with the trends if you are not spending a portion of your time reading.
That is just the tactical and fire ground portion, leaders know that they have several different personal interactions on a daily basis, and in order to communicate, motivate, and lead people it takes a tremendous amount of education which can be gained through reading.
Leadership lessons, strategy and tactics, communication, can be gained almost anywhere if you are looking in the right places. I have learned a lot about aggressive vs. passive tactics in military writings, specifically books on the Civil War.
Here are some of my favorite books on my bookshelf:
This book is one of my all time favorites, because it detailed out current cancer epidemic long before the fire service was truly paying attention to it. It studies several historic fires, that all lead to a significant amount of fire service members contracting some form of cancer. It also details the science behind why fire smoke in dangerous, and why the utilization of respiratory protection is important.
This book was recommended to me while I attended Crisis Intervention Team training. My district at work is full of nursing facilities and EMS calls to those facilities are a large majority of our responses. It is easier to dismiss these as “nuisance” calls, but usually there is an underlying issue why these incidents are happening. This book details the difficulties the elderly have with health care, nursing facilities, and the like as they get older. It also goes into things like polypharmacy, and how to investigate a living space for hazards. it has changed how I respond to the nursing home call on a daily basis.
This book was given to me, at a time when I needed leadership guidance. It is on the NFA EFO reading list, and speaks a lot about self reflection of leadership, and observing the reactions of your leadership.
These books are just a few of the historical fire books on my book shelf. One is the history of my department. This is important, because we all need to know where our department started. The others are significant fires that have taken place in history. Much can be gained by reading these, most of our current NFPA, and building codes come from these historical fires, reading these will give you a greater understanding of why these codes are in place, and can also educate you on tactics of the time and why we still do them or why we went away from them. “The Study of History is the Study of Leadership”
Currently I am reading 3D Firefighting. While I am early in, it is a different perspective on fire suppression focusing on gas cooling utilizing fog streams. The techniques detailed are used a lot in the European fire service, and are often times seen as controversial in the American fire service. It was recommended to me by people I highly respect, ad I will admit I is very different from what I have been taught. It may not convert me, but when you choose to argue you must be educated on both topics.
These are just a few examples of what I have read, and what is on my personal book shelf. I am always looking for a good read, as stated before it is one of the best ways to stay current with the fire service, and continue the study of strategy, tactics, and leadership. Make sure you do not ignore magazines either. Monthly installments such as Fire Engineering, Fire Rescue, and Firehouse are valuable for staying current on “hot button” fire service topics. Lastly while some look down on it, a lot of information can be gained by reading websites, blogs, and social media. Just like with anything, make sure you apply anything you read to your situation, and department. Some times the most valuable thing you can learn is what you do not want to do!
What is on your bookshelf? Are you reading? Let me know in the comments section or on twitter @averagejakeff
As usual thanks for reading, spread the word, and STAY SAFE!