Career Success in 2022

John Wooden said, "When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare." In order to capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves in a rapidly changing career field, we must be prepared. When the promotional opportunity opens up, it is too late to start taking the classes, or obtaining the certifications, or volunteering for additional responsibilities. We must constantly be preparing ourselves today with the necessary skills and abilities to meet these future opportunities.

How prepared are you for the next opportunity, those opportunities that 2022 is sure to bring?  What is the last conference or presentation that you have been part of? When is the last time you have polished up your resume? Who are you following on social media platforms? Are you recognized as a leader in your field? What do you plan to achieve in the next twelve months?  Your honest reflection and responses to these questions should provide an idea of where you are and where you need to be in your professional development. 

If you knew that there was one magic key guaranteed to make you successful, would you want to take advantage of it? Motivational speaker and self-development teacher, Brian Tracy says, "Here is a rule that will guarantee your success - and possibly make you rich: Invest 3% of your income back into yourself."

Outside of company provided training, every person should be investing in their own professional development. The costs associated with books, classes, conferences, and certifications should be considered an investment, not an expense. The return on investment will be realized in a renewed level of motivation, fresh and new ideas, and an expanded network of professional relationships.

With the rise of online training, webinars, and zoom meetings it seems that there are more avenues of professional development that one could ever pursue. With so many options available it is easy to get trapped by "analysis paralysis" and end up doing nothing. However, by clearly defining your career goals, a pathway of professional development can be formed. Use the following steps to create your professional development action plan. 

1.  Assess where you currently are, and where you want to be.

What are your immediate and long term career goals? What are the things that you want to accomplish? What impact do you want to leave on your community, your organization, or within your industry?

2.  Determine what training is needed to achieve that goal.

Sometimes this guidance is already provided (i.e., job descriptions, requirements for promotions, internal training), other times guidance must be sought out or self-directed. It is a best practice to schedule a semi-annual meeting with your next level supervisor to discuss your near-term and long-term career goals and professional ambitions. These discussions should be viewed as an opportunity to receive insight into areas that you may need to improve upon, and guidance on the next steps needed to accomplish your career goals. Once you are clear on thi,s then you know what certifications and classes you may need, or what knowledge,skills, and abilities need to be obtained.

3. Read at least one book per year.

Statistics show that one out of four Americans will not read a single book in a year.  The most successful people are avid readers. Reading has been shown to increase focus, develop a more broad perspective, increase writing and speaking skills, and keep you mentally fresh, educated, and informed.  Select at least one book related to your career and professional goals, divide it up into easy to read sections, read one section per day to completion (i.e., ten pages a day for one month will allow you to finish reading a full 300 page book).

4.  Attend three conferences or professional development events.

These can be single day training classes, local or national conferences, or technical code/committee meetings.  If cost is a factor, search out local opportunities.  Alternatively, if you apply to be a presenter at many of these conferences, then the registration fee may be waived.

A plan for professional development and training is essential to success in any field. Do not wait for, or expect, someone else to pay for and invest in your professional development. Take responsibility for your own success, set goals, create a plan to achieve those goals, then follow your career road map. 


Crime Prevention for Firefighters: CPTED for CRR

What is CPTED?

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the concept of crime prevention and neighborhood safety accomplished through natural elements and structural design. CPTED utilizes four strategies that contribute to “the proper design and effective use of the built environment that can lead to a reduction in the fear and incidence of crime and an improvement in the quality of life” within a community. The CPTED strategies are natural surveillance, natural access control,territorial reinforcement, and maintenance.

Natural Surveillance. This utilizes the placement of physical features, activities, and people in a way that maximizes visibility. This is accomplished through landscape design, lighting, and elimination of ambush points. These elements all promote more eyes on the street, and within the buildings where necessary.

Natural Access Control. This means controlling access to a site by its inherent design. This is accomplished through strategic design of streets, sidewalks, building entrances, and landscaping. These design elements can ensure that entrances are visible and clearly defined, well lighted, and take full advantage of natural surveillance.

Territorial Reinforcement. This strategy appeals to peoples’ sense of ownership. This is the use of physical attributes that express ownership such as, fencing, pavement design, walking paths, signage, landscaping, and public art. Territorial reinforcement encompasses the principles of natural surveillance and access control.

Maintenance. This allows for continued use of the space, and is a critical component of CPTED. If the other strategies of CPTED are utilized, but never maintained, then CPTED will fail. Maintenance serves as an expression of territorial reinforcement by showing property ownership, it prevents reduced visibility from overgrown landscape, and obstructed or inoperative lighting.


CPTED is a largely unheard of concept to the fire service. However, it is a concept that the fire service should fully embrace. In recent years the fire department concept of Community Risk Reduction (CRR) has prevailed. This is the concept of reducing risk of all types, not just fire, within a community. CPTED ties directly into the goals and objectives of a CRR program and benefits the community, first responders, and designers. 

Understanding CPTED principles and strategies can be advantageous to the community and the fire service in a multitude of ways. Reduced crime means lower number of emergency responses. More eyes on the street and people out, means faster response when emergencies do occur.  
CPTED as part of a CRR strategy contributes to safety of fire department personnel and first responders. Maintenance of property, natural surveillance, access control, can eliminate ambush points and make areas and structures safer for first responders. 

CPTED should also be applied for the fire protection and emergency management planning and building design. A holistic approach to building design and occupant safety is not complete without taking into account the risks, and perceived risks, of crime or potential threats. Applying CPTED principles can completely change, in the best way, the fire protection design and emergency response plan.

Codes and Standards

CPTED is in the codes and standards. NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security, has a chapter dedicated to “Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design”.  This chapter outlines requirements for lighting and landscape, and is referenced from other chapters within NFPA 730. Chapters 11-20 of this document cover specific occupancy types such as educational facilities, health care facilities, restaurants, shopping centers, retail, and more. Within each of these chapters is a section on CPTED as it directly relates to the occupancy type. Though NFPA 730 is only a guide, it can be utilized and implemented into a fire department's CRR and plans review process.

NFPA 101, Life Safety Code, will have its first draft meeting on January 18. At this meeting Public Input #188 will be voted on for inclusion in the document. The goal of this public input is to insert a reference to CPTED principles. The proposed language and substantiation is, as follows:

New section, 4.9 Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. In new construction and when a building undergoes renovation or rehabilitation, the principles of crime prevention through environmental design (CPTED) shall be implemented for the occupancies as described in NFPA 730, Guide for Premises Security, Chapter 8.

Statement of Problem and Substantiation for Public Input:

The intent of NFPA 101 is for Life Safety, as stated in the A1.1.8,”Life safety in buildings includes more than safety from fire...its technical requirements respond to a wider range of concerns...Code requirements...might also assist in responding to many other hazards…” Furthermore, Sections 4.2.1 and 4.2.4 emphasize the objectives of occupant protection, and physical violence mitigation. The principles of CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design) contribute to life safety through a systematic approach to facility lighting, design, landscaping, and human factors planning. These contribute to the safety of the buildings occupants and to first responders. Application of CPTED principles can give the first responder an advance notice of unsafe conditions that may pertain to the facility or people around it. These principles are already a part of NFPA 730, the goal of this public comment is to put a pointer to these requirements for the user of NFPA 101.

Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design is a strategy that can completely change a community. Employing these strategies as a component of the Community Risk Reduction program can reduce crime, reduce call volume, contribute to responder safety, and provide for a holistic design approach for buildings and community spaces.

For CPTED training and information contact Art Hushen at the National Institute of Crime Prevention.

For site assessments, plan reviews, or consulting you can schedule a free consultation with me.

Hard Code Sections [How to Understand Them]

Have you ever been reading through the code and come to a section that you just can’t understand? One of those code sections that you read, read it again, think about it, then re-read it. Only to still not understand what it is saying? I’ve been in this spot more than once. So, how do you get past it? What are some steps to understanding what you are reading?

Here are the four steps to understanding hard code sections:

  1. Annex information. Is there an asterisk by the code section (for NFPA codes and standards)? If so, refer to the annex for this code reference or section. Additionally, reading the code section before and after the problem section can help by providing context. If these sections have annex information, then review that, as well. 

  2. Other editions. Refer to past editions and future editions of the same code section or language. Sometimes the same concept is stated or explained another way in other editions. Other editions may make the concept to be more clearly understood.

  3. Handbooks. Many codes have handbooks that are published by the code organization, or even outside publishers. Refer to the code section in the related handbook for potential commentary, explanation, or illustration, for clarity.

  4. Google search. Finally, do a Google search of key phrases from the code section, the code reference, or copy and paste the entire code section into the search bar. This may produce other resources such as articles, blog posts, social media comments, and other items that may provide clarity and direction for understanding.

How do you comprehend hard code sections? 

Leadership Resources for ARFF Professionals [Being Chief]

Being Chief: Leadership Principles for the ARFF Professional, is the first book of its kind, dedicated solely to leadership in the aircraft rescue and firefighting field. More than thirty ARFF chiefs and leaders were interviewed for this book. Read more about the book in this post and this post.

One of the questions asked was what is a book or resource that they would recommend for continued leadership development. There were a lot of similar answers. The books below were the most frequently cited by these ARFF leaders. These are their recommendations for continued education and professional development.

Holy Bible - The CSB Heroes Bibles feature the highly reliable, highly readable text of the Christian Standard Bible (CSB), which stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity. The CSB’s optimal blend of accuracy and readability makes Scripture more moving, more memorable, and more motivating to read it today and share it always.

First In, Last Out, John Salka - What does it take to lead people into a burning building? How do the leaders of the New York City Fire Department develop so much loyalty, trust, and grace under pressure that their subordinates will risk their very lives for them? As a high-ranking officer of the FDNY, John Salka is an expert at both practicing and teaching high-stakes leadership. He explains the department’s unique strategies and how they can be adopted by leaders in any field

It’s Your Ship, Michael Abrashoff- When Captain Abrashoff took over as commander of USS Benfold, it was like a business that had all the latest technology but only some of the productivity. Knowing that responsibility for improving performance rested with him, he realized he had to improve his own leadership skills before he could improve his ship. Within months, he created a crew of confident and inspired problem-solvers eager to take the initiative and responsibility for their actions. The slogan on board became "It's your ship," and Benfold was soon recognized far and wide as a model of naval efficiency. Abrashoff shares his secrets of successful management

Pride and Ownership, Rick Lasky - Chief Rick Lasky gives an upfront and honest criticism about the need to reignite the love of the job on every level, from chiefs and on down. Learn what you can do to drive your members to take pride in their job and assume ownership. 


Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service, Alan Brunacini - This text explains the application of common-sense customer service concepts to the fire service. Written in a humorous conversational style, Chief Alan Brunacini of the Phoenix Fire Department provides the reader with an enjoyable reading experience and vital information on how we can better serve our customers.

From Buddy to Boss, Chase Sargent - Whether you're a new officer or in need of a mentor, From Buddy to Boss: Effective Fire Service Leadership, is a must-have management book you'll turn to over and over again. Fire service veteran Chase Sargent has taken his popular course and written a no-holds-barred leadership book for the fire service in a conversational and easy-to-read style. He tells you how to accept and survive politics, deal with the fringe employees, and keep your cool -- tricks of the trade that usually take years to acquire

The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge - Senge describes how companies can rid themselves of the learning blocks that threaten their productivity and success by adopting the strategies of learning organizations, in which new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, collective aspiration is set free, and people are continually learning how to create the results they truly desire.

Extreme Ownership, Jocko Willink - Detailing the mind-set and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish the most difficult missions in combat, Extreme Ownership shows how to apply them to any team, family or organization. Each chapter focuses on a specific topic such as Cover and Move, Decentralized Command, and Leading Up the Chain, explaining what they are, why they are important, and how to implement them in any leadership environment.

The Dichotomy of Leadership, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin - Jocko and Leif dive even deeper into the uncharted and complex waters of a concept first introduced in Extreme Ownership: finding balance between the opposing forces that pull every leader in different directions. Here, Willink and Babin get granular in the nuances that every successful leader must navigate. Mastering the Dichotomy of Leadership requires understanding when to lead and when to follow; when to aggressively maneuver and when to pause and let things develop; when to detach and let the team run and when to dive into the details and micromanage.

Qualities for ARFF Leadership Success [Being Chief]

Being Chief: Leadership Principles for the ARFF Professional, is the first book of its kind, dedicated solely to leadership in the aircraft rescue and firefighting field. More than thirty ARFF chiefs and leaders were interviewed for this book. Through the process of compiling the information from these discussions, a pattern for success emerged. Similar topics were discussed, and certain traits rose to the top. These came through these four questions:
  1. What is your advice for the newly promoted chief officer?
  2. What actions, behaviors, or thought patterns lead to leadership failure?
  3. What is the top trait or characteristic that you believe every chief officer must possess?
  4. What have been the key factors to your success and why?

What is your advice for the newly promoted chief officer?

  1. Listen, to those above and below.
  2. Learn, from others, from past successes and mistakes, commit to continual education.
  3. Be with your people, they are the priority.
  4. Remember where you came from, and how you got here.
  5. Be consistent, always show up.

What actions, behaviors, or thought patterns lead to leadership failure?

  1. Lack of respect for people.

    1. Failure to recognize and adjust to different personality types.

    2. Poor treatment, demeaning, unfair, unequitable.

    3. Not ‘learning’ your people, or knowing who they are.

    4. Failure to provide discipline and clear direction.

    5. Not trusting your people.

  2. Lack of integrity.

    1. Not being true to your word.

    2. Being inconsistent.

    3. Non-committed to department, people, direction, or vision.

    4. Self-serving.

  3. Poor communication.

    1. Not listening.

    2. Unable to commit to decisions, lack of clarity in decision making.

    3. Unclear vision and prioritizing personal agendas.

What is the top trait or characteristic that you believe every chief officer must possess?

  1. Trust

  2. Honesty

  3. Integrity

  4. Humility (approachable, listen, learn)

What have been the key factors to your success and why?

  1. Knowing the job.

    1. Commit to continual learning.

    2. Stay relevant by listening to others.

    3. Network with other chiefs, organizations, and departments.

  2. Consistency.

    1. Persevere.

    2. Show up everyday at 100%.

    3. Build experience.

  3. Faith.

  4. Family.

    1. Support of...

    2. Succeed for…

Being Chief takes a deep dive into each of these areas and topics, and lets you hear from the leaders themselves, in their own words through their own experiences.