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IAFC Profiles

Connect with the best
Company Officer, Your future is now.

How to be a Leader

We asked a sample of IAFC Chief and Company Officer members about what motivates and helps them be effective leaders. Here’s what they had to say…

Want to chat with fellow leaders?
Share your perspective on what motivates and challenges you in one of our discussion forums; or see what other fellow leaders are talking about! IAFC membership required.

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Chief Brian Sturdivant Chief Brian Sturdivant, CFO, CPM, Milpitas, CA - Serving for 28 years
IAFC member since 2005
“We lead in demanding times with reduced resources, staffing and funding. If we are to be successful, we must be critical and strategic thinkers, and creative problem solvers. “Meta-leadership” skills are critical right now and include becoming a subject matter expert, being an asset for your boss, and seeking opportunities for multi-discipline collaboration.”
Battalion Chief Phil Pounders, CFO, North Little Rock, AR - Serving for 26 years
IAFC member since 2008

“As fire chiefs serving in challenging times, we need to reject passivity, accept responsibility, and lead courageously. We must pursue ways to be better prepared by reaching out to those around us for ideas and perspective. Our learning must be continuous, and our competence maintained.”
Captain Mike Jaffa, Santa Fe, NM - Serving for 25 years
IAFC member since 2002
“As a leader, it’s my responsibility to care. My passion is effective, constructive leadership. I believe good leaders follow these principles: 1) Lead by example; 2) Promote because you want to lead others, not because you want more money; 3) Learn to laugh and learn from your mistakes; you’re going to make them; and 4) Know when and how to follow. It’s all about balance!"
Chief David Fulmer, CFO, EFO, MIFireE, Pataskala, OH - Serving for 28 years
IAFC member since 1997
“To succeed as a chief these days, one must practice situational leadership skills. This includes coaching, counseling, and even being authoritative or dictatorial when the situation calls for it. You must consider yourself the tip of the spear. Lead by example, treat people with respect, and be willing to bleed for your employees."
Lieutenant Brian Collins, Brentwood, TN - Serving for 16 years
IAFC member since 2009
“My passion is delivering competent, effective services. I believe success comes from these 3 things: 1) Remember why we exist - to help others; 2) Your brain is your most valuable tool; maintain it accordingly; and 3) Always look for better ways of providing our services.”
Captain Alan Rufer, MBA, Monroe, WI - Serving for 18 years
IAFC member since 2001
“I believe that you should never stop being a student. A promotion, regardless of the rank, is not the end, but rather a new beginning.”
Chief Laura Baker, Tucson, AZ - Serving for 17 years
IAFC member since 2010
"What should our focus be as leaders in the fire and emergency service? Fire prevention and safety or strengthening the skills we need to react to emergencies? It's a tough call in these tough times. However, it is possible to promote both through effective communication and collaboration with department personnel and key stakeholders in your city."
Lieutenant Craig Aman, Seattle, WA - Serving for 29 years
IAFC member since 2010
“I have a passion for fire-based EMS. It’s an efficient model that allows us to better serve the community as well as provide an integrated solution for all hazard mitigation, rescue and medical situations. IAFC provides me with the latest information on trends and best practices for fire, rescue and EMS operations as well as professional development programs such as COLS and the EMS Leadership Academy.
Lieutenant Randall Hanifen, West Chester, OH - Serving for 17 years
IAFC member since 2010
“Command and control issues are about 5% of what we do as company officers. To be an effective leader, personnel management training must also be pursued and applied. I remind myself often that respect is earned, not given. If you have to tell others you’re in charge, you’re likely not.”
Captain James Paul, Prince William County, VA - Serving for 29 years
IAFC member since 2008
“I care deeply about providing proper guidance and leadership that will keep my crew safe. When company officers are performing their basic function in the fire service, they will inherently ensure everyone goes home.”