More than 200 senior fire officials last weekend participated in the 25th Annual Executive Fire Officer Program Graduate Symposium held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. The attendees — all alumni of the EFOP from across the United States, Canada and Germany — met for three days to discuss fire-service management and leadership.
This year's symposium focused on adaptive leadership as it relates to fire, EMS and community risk. Keynote speaker Marty Linsky of Cambridge Leadership Associates and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government co-authored Leadership on the Line, which is required reading for EFOP participants. His most recent book is The Practice of Adaptive Leadership: Tools and Tactics for Changing Your Organization and the World.
“Leading is a risk that sometimes has not-so-great endings,” Linsky said. “Many of the problems being faced by fire chiefs today are not fundamentally different from what organizations are facing all over the country — all over the world. The challenges you are facing are part of a bigger picture; these are manifestations of things occurring in the world.”
Jim Crawford, project manager for Vision 20/20, provided an update on the National Strategies for Fire Loss Prevention. Vision 20/20 is a collaborative effort of national organizations to support fire-prevention models.
“We want to establish a community risk reduction culture," Crawford said. "We can do all the things for CRR, but it’s going to take enlightened leadership.”
Larry McKenna Jr. of the National Fire Data Center's research group detailed the report “Changing Residential Environment and Life Safety.”
“Time to escape an established fire in a home is down 82% over 30 years to –3 minutes,” he said, adding that fire chiefs should contact UL’s Firefighter Safety Research Institute for more information.
Saturday’s focus on firefighter health and safety began with Capt. Steven Marsar of the FDNY, who presented “Survivability Profiling — Can They be Saved?” Marsar explained how as a new firefighter he began keeping track of FDNY firefighters killed in structural fires during overhaul, primary and secondary searches. Marsar’s research for his EFO paper to help reduce firefighter fatalities and to recognize civilian survival times in fires.
“If we do it for hazmat and EMS, why don’t we do it for fire incidents,” he asked. “Every firefighter and on every incident is responsible for their own size-up.”
Among the presentations, several EFOP Graduates presented 20-minute “TED Talks” on a variety of topics including a “fire chief-turned-city administrator”, “employees you can’t fire” and “the digital age meets wage and hour.”