President`s Letter: A Lost Leadership Partner

One of the hallmarks of any profession is the commitment to continuous learning: sharing experiences, lessons learned and best practices; engaging in dialogue and debate; and challenging each other to grow and get better.

This is especially true in the fire service because of the nature of our profession. We're geographically dispersed across the nation, the continent and around the world, yet we face so many similar issues and challenges. To keep our people safe and to improve our ability to serve our communities, we need to have a constant focus on communicating, learning and sharing.

For more than 50 years (57 to be exact), we fire service leaders have had an exceptional partner in this pursuit of leadership excellence: FIRE CHIEF Magazine. Through the efforts of an incredible staff and the hundreds of individuals who have contributed content to the magazine, we have had an outstanding partner in our pursuit of excellence in fire service leadership.

As many of you have no doubt heard, the parent company of FIRE CHIEF made the decision to close down the magazine and related website effective immediately in mid-November. It's a business decision, pure and simple, and reflects the changing environment in both the print-media industry and the changing availability of advertising dollars in the businesses associated with the fire service.

In any case, it's done. FIRE CHIEF is gone.

Why make use of this President's Letter to talk about another victim of corporate cutting? My first purpose is to thank the staff and contributors who made FIRE CHIEF what it was. Simply put, FIRE CHIEF Magazine saved lives—both firefighters and civilians. Through the articles and editorials that have appeared in the magazine, generations of fire service leaders have been taught new concepts, exposed to best practices and been reminded of those things we do that are important.

We have been chastised, challenged and helped to think in different ways. The brightest and the best of fire service leaders have been recognized through award programs. And the fire service leadership profession has been made better through the words that have appeared in print and on the website. Thank you.

My other purpose is to raise the issue that there is now a hole in the fire service leadership profession—a gap that is significant and needs to be filled. While other fire service periodicals may occasionally dip into subjects of management and leadership, it isn't their primary mission.

I have recently participated in several meetings where the challenge of disseminating information to the fire service was discussed. While major scientific progress is being made in understanding fire behavior and modifying strategy and tactics to match, it's all useless if we can't get it to the people who need it. As leaders, we're constantly being challenged in new ways in addition to all the normal issues we face.

Without a publication focused on the leadership issues facing the fire service, we've lost an incredible tool for advancing our profession. Will we replace it? If so, how?

Thank you, again, to FIRE CHIEF and to every person who has contributed to its mission over the last 57 years. We're grateful for all that you've done.

Let us also commit ourselves to a renewed effort to communicate and advance the fire service leadership profession by finding other ways to fill the communications void left by the death of FIRE CHIEF Magazine.

Chief William R. Metcalf, EFO, CFO
President and Chairman of the Board

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