Week 8 Forum – Final Thoughts
Our textbook focuses on those areas having the most impact on our profession, on our departments, and on each of us as leaders.
Please write a post that answers the following:
1. What part of the text had the biggest impact on you and why?
2. What was the most surprising or interesting thing you learned during the past eight weeks?
I known I am doing this early, but the idea here is that I finish strong due to the final three courses of my BS coming to an end and moving on to the next goals!
For me, the best part of the book was the financial part. I hate numbers. I hated math in school and one of the things I have always despised the most in my administrative endeavors was the financial and fiscal aspects. I like understanding the budget, but I hate to be the one in charge of putting it together. This section was one of the first times I felt things were being explained in a manner I could really comprehend and it also was amazing to have the different things explained that helped me know the why beyond the simple money needs to be spent well. Fiduciary responsibility is great, but understanding the need for it better helped me with my personal life and budgeting. One day, should I become a Chief that is involved in an area with a budget, I want to understand why the money is limited, why the priorities are made the way they are, and why I only have so much in my area to accomplish my mission. I am strong on finding the bargains and ensuring money is stretched, but I have often resented not seeing numbers that matched the level of priority I felt something should have.
Even as a Director on a Fire District Board, I felt this issue. I had a station that simply needed new windows. Single pane glass was not keeping heat or cool in during the seasons where it was fighting the outside elements. Is also did not help keep noise levels in a busy urban area down enough for the firefighters to rest. I could not understand why there was such a strong push back on a $14,000 project in a district with a $3M budget. Eventually, I was able to learn to speak the language and get the research done to help the other members of the board see why this was worth it.
It is the most uninteresting part of the job of administering anything, but one of the most critical. I will be grateful to this course and text for the foundation it helped me build here and I am sure I will return to this text from time to time to refresh this understanding I was able to gain.
Well, that went by rather quickly! I’m glad we made it; I’ve learned allot.
The biggest impact for me has been Chapter 4, Leading Change. This was brought home during our discussions when it turned to the facts that quite often a Chief will be brought in, as a new leader or a leader in a new position, and find there are quite a few things that he’d like to see changed as well as things that need/require change. The parallels of fire-life to military-life have always impressed me, but none as much as this. Leaders move, teams stay. To me, this was the most challenging aspect of my military career, and to see it echoed with a new chief arriving to “disrupt” everything was déjà vu. I am comforted with this new knowledge that the change in leadership and change in policies is a more or less normal fact of life in fire departments, and as I read, it usually goes well.
The facts that have surprised me the most are coming to understand the level that a Department Chief has to become an administrator, social worker, politician, actor and even father figure to some. This all explains the trouble I’ve had in directly working with the Chiefs in my career. These guys are terrible at setting up appointments and usually just call (holler) over the phone to come right away. The ones I’ve met are usually so frazzled and seem overloaded, but doing amazing things with a dizzying amount of responsibilities. The course has been helpful for me to now look into the past 20 years and finally understand some of the weird things I’ve seen a couple of Chiefs try to accomplish. Now I can see why.
My thanks to our Professor for his patience and encouragement. And many thanks to my classmates for their valuable and instructive feedback. I hope I have helped some of you in the same way.