Rule 3: Flawlessly Execute The Basics of Your Job

In this third installment of the "Rube's Rules" series, we will discuss ensuring that the job at hand is completed safely, efficiently and effectively. I love the notion of great customer service in the ways in which we fight fires and save lives. This...


In this third installment of the "Rube's Rules" series, we will discuss ensuring that the job at hand is completed safely, efficiently and effectively. I love the notion of great customer service in the ways in which we fight fires and save lives. This concept was pioneered roughly 20 years ago by...


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The measurement for all of our credentials (EMS, fire, rescue, hazardous materials and the like) should be the same as our emergency medical certifications. I have had the wonderful opportunity to be a part of several fire-EMS departments in different states over the past few decades. With each opportunity (new department), I was the final authority to determine whether my fire-related certifications were acceptable. The state health department (or the equivalent) would review my EMS records and prescribe what training and updated certifications I would need to be a member of the new outfit. Whether it was a required CPR recertification course or a complete NREMT course and testing, it was clear what I had to do to be qualified/certified in the new community. As you can tell, I am very much in favor of national certifications for all of our core disciplines, using the various certification agencies.

The final logical point is to briefly discuss improving your various certifications and capabilities. That is raising the bar as the leader (be it the formal or informal leader) to make sure that you and your department grow and keep up with the changing times. I can remember that in 1971, Private D.L. Rubin was required to successfully complete the American Red Cross Advanced First Aid Course as part of a nine-week firefighter recruit school. This training was great for the times, but within that same year it was determined to be outdated and not comprehensive enough for ambulance service. Our department adapted to and required emergency medical technician certification as the baseline and included paramedic training. We have never looked back!

Can you imagine never obtaining current information? This could never happen in the medical world, so I am asking you to make the same commitment in all phases of your career. The National Fire Academy offers one of the best leadership development processes with the Executive Fire Officer program. This four-year training curriculum touches on all types of strategies to improve your effectiveness as a leader. You should consider obtaining the Institute of Public Safety Excellence's Chief Fire Officer designation and Chief Medical Officer designation. These designations are a specific and measurable way to determine whether you are operating at the top of your game and to keep your skills, knowledge and abilities up to national standards.

There is no more important function for a firefighter/EMT than to be able to flawlessly perform his or her job when the chips are down. The lives of all first responders and the lives of those in the community that they are sworn to serve are literally on the line every time an emergency vehicle goes out the door. Until next time, be safe out there!

DENNIS L. RUBIN, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is chief of the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department. Previously, Rubin was chief of the Atlanta, GA, Fire and Rescue Department. He holds a bachelor of science degree in fire administration from the University of Maryland and an associate in applied science degree in fire science management from Northern Virginia Community College, and is enrolled in the Fire and Emergency Management Administration program at the graduate school of Oklahoma State University. Rubin is a graduate of the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officers Program, is a Certified Emergency Manager (CEM) and has obtained the Chief Fire Officer (CFO) designation from the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). He is an adjunct faculty member of the National Fire Academy author of the book Rube's Rules for Survival.