Tuesday, April 22, 2008

America's Fire Marshals: Character, Commitment, Collaboration

The mission of the Connecticut Fire Marshals Association is to provide protection for the public at large by efficient and effective utilization of its resources through education, prevention and code enforcement.

On Monday, April 21, 2008, I had the privilege to conduct a full day program for 250 members of the Connecticut Fire Marshals Association as part of their Annual Spring Conference held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell, Connecticut. The association celebrated 60 years of excellence in their continued commitment to the communities of Connecticut. This year's theme was Leadership in Fire Safety.

The program consisted of two powerpoint presentations, each followed by breakout discussions of the topic and a summary report by each group leader.

The morning presentation was titled Principles of Visionary Leadership as a Response to the Crisis of Character.


  • Foundations of Leadership
  • Contemporary Concerns
  • The Altruism FactorTM
  • Principles of Visionary Leadership
  • Call to Action
  • American Military Tribute
  • Conclusion

The commitment and energy was evident in the discussions and the group leader summaries highlighted the following:

  • The void of leadership in communities needs to be filled by leaders with moral character and the courage to be agents of change.
  • Respect, character and responsibility must be ignited in our communities through families, schools and churches.
  • The erosion of ethics in society needs to be reversed through the family involvement, youth activities and the community leadership.
  • Leaders need to be firm, fair, consistent and accountable.
  • Self-indulgent leaders need to be replaced with leaders of integrity.
  • America is re-living the fall of the Roman Empire through materialism and we must rekindle hope by inspiring future generations.
  • Parents must become more involved with the community, especially through our schools.
  • Fire Marshals have a unique opportunity to contribute to society in our roles as educators and community leaders.
  • America is a government of the people, by the people and for the people and we must not settle for mediocrity in our elected officials.

The afternoon presentation was titled Issues of Crisis Management: Renew, Reflect, Resolve.


  • Firefighters: Essential to the Preservation of Community
  • Principles of Crisis Management
  • Culture of Preparedness / Unity of Effort
  • Lessons Learned: Virginia Tech
  • Renewing Your Passion and Purpose
  • Connecticut Fallen Firefighters Tribute
  • Conclusion

Once again the group discussions demonstrated an animated exchange focused on issues of crisis management and the group leaders delivered cogent insights that reflected the collective experience of participants:

  • Emergency planning training, education and practice within communities can be improved through the fire marshals' leadership and collaboration. The point person of authority, either the fire chief or the emergency management coordinator must be utilized.
  • Emergency plans must be communicated to all community agencies and must be tested, revised and continually evaluated.
  • Fire Marshals must work more closely with Boards of Education to ensure they have appropriate emergency plans.
  • Fire Marshals are in a unique position to influence culture of preparedness within communities. We must enhance our visibility and educational role within the community, especially with its' youngest members.
  • The common theme of a successful culture of preparedness, as indicated in places like Florida, California and Israel, is effective education of the people.
  • Real and present community dangers must be identified, analyzed and responded to with partnerships, training and continual review, revision and update of plans.
  • An honest appraisal of a history of disaster responses that did not go well emphasizes the failure of leadership, communication and collaboration. Developing appropriate interagency relationships reguires placing the good of the community ahead of selfish and political needs. We must act now to improve our disaster response infrastructure.
  • Trust needs to be enhanced, especially through our schools and in our role as educators aside from code enforcement.

The dedication and commitment of the Connecticut Fire Marshals is truly inspiring. Their unique positions throughout the state demand that the renewed sense of leadership, vigilance and collaboration achieved at the conference be carried back to their respective communities.

I am confident that the state of Connecticut is in very capable hands.


Connecticut Fire Marshals Association Click here to visit site
Commission on Fire Prevention and Control—Connecticut Fire Academy Click here to visit site

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