vention, customer relations, station management, apparatus design,
and the development
of standard operating
guidelines are a few of
the areas that can be
improved by listening
to our fire fighters.
informal “open door”
policies or by using the
more structured “quality
team” concept, we argue
that our fire fighters will
embrace the opportunity
to make greater contributions to the entire organization. By encouraging participation, we elevate our people from subordinates
to colleagues. In short, if we create an atmosphere
of mutual respect in all that we do, it will naturally
lead to a better public service organization.
It is important for every individual to feel valued.
We can foster this by recognizing, utilizing and
appreciating the talents/skill sets of our personnel.
Fire fighters as a whole feel their net value through
the fundamentals of the job. The ability to assist
people with their “cat in the tree” problem is very
rewarding. The situations at airports can be much
more complex due to the transient populations,
and ARFF departments can have very different
“cats” and “trees.” These responses may be unique
to airports, but, as with all emergency response,
the highs are high and the lows can be low. The
continuous adrenalin rush responses followed by
an adrenal fatigue is stressful on the individual
and on the team. That is the nature of the industry
— an emotional roller coaster. As leaders, we are
tasked with understanding the effects of this and
must develop and provide strategies for coping and
paying attention to individual needs.
In recognition of these factors, we as leaders
must try to utilize and recognize talents, individual goals and interests. We continuously must instill
a sense of worth and stability in our fire team.
Recognizing accomplishments, not finding fault in
every misstep, identifying strengths, empowerment
and accountability all provide an environment that
allows individuals to feel that sense of worth.
In the airport environment, it is very important
to keep each shift involved. Fire fighters and fire
officers, as well as airport management and the
airlines, are integral to the safety of an airport.
Programs such as Safety Management Systems
(SMS) will help today’s positive trends to con-
tinue. The ARFF department is evolving to support
programs like SMS by being proactive in our com-
munities and organizations and by developing our
people. Value comes from the understanding that
one piece or one person of an organization is no
more important than any other. It is the leader’s job
to ensure every individual knows how much he or
she is valued and is integral to the overall success.
CHOOSE YOUR PATH
It is important to note that all strong leaders
exemplify the basic qualities that represent
the fire service: honor, courage, respect and
humility. Leaders have a fierce commitment to
represent themselves and all that the fire service
stands for to its highest standards. Leaders never
put themselves before the fire service or the
department. They lead with a sense of purpose
and resolve that is admired by the community
they serve. These are the philosophies we try to
incorporate into our trainer selection process,
when developing course materials, and when
delivering our programs to students at the FAA
Regional ARFF Training Facility at Pittsburgh
International Airport. A
Richard Wilson is fire chief at Pittsburgh International Airport.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian Colella
is a deputy fire chief at Pittsburgh International. He may be
reached at email@example.com. Tim Holmes is a deputy
fire chief at Pittsburgh International. He may be reached at