The legacy of a fire service leader is not about buildings, equipment, programs and apparatus, but about the impact you make on those you lead. John C. Maxwell, in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership , writes: "When all is said and done, your ability as a leader will not be judged...
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Think of it like this. Fill a bucket with water and let it visually represent the organization that you work in. If you put your hand in the water, you impact the condition inside the bucket. You raise the level of water in the bucket as it displaces to form around your hand. You will slightly raise the temperature of the water, and you will change the water as the oils and any dirt from your hand are washed off into the water. Yet, when you remove your hand, the void is filled immediately. Was the water forever changed by the presence of your hand? The answer is yes. Yet, when you removed your hand, you did not leave a void because the water immediately filled the place your hand once occupied.
As leaders, we should work to build an organization that when we are removed our void is filled immediately. This is the legacy each of us should strive to attain. By hiring the right people and preparing them to fill the void, this goal can become a reality. It takes time and the longer you have to impact the organization, the more prepared it will be to fill the void your hand once made.
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CRAIG A. HAIGH, MS, CFO, EFO, MIFireE, NREMT-P, is a 26-year veteran of the fire service. He is chief of the Hanover Park, IL, Fire Department and a field staff instructor with the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute. Haigh began his career as a volunteer in Hampton, IL, and worked full time for the City of Rock Island Fire Department, where he was the first EMS coordinator. In 1995, he was appointed chief of the King, NC, Fire Department. Haigh assumed command of the Hanover Park Fire Department following the merger of the Ontarioville Fire Protection District with the Village of Hanover Park. He has a master's degree in executive fire service leadership, a bachelor's degree in fire and safety engineering and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer Program. He is a nationally registered paramedic, an accredited Chief Fire Officer and a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers.