Are You One Of The Great Ones? Do You Want To Be?

As some of our close professional buddies might know, we have adopted a new hobby. We have finally taken our own advice and began devoting time to something which has absolutely nothing to do with the fire service. Our new calling comes from the world...


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We can recall a person we met in 1976 at the NFPA Fall Meeting in Cincinnati. A chance encounter with an up-and-coming assistant fire chief from out west, on an airport bus, led to a luncheon engagement. A discussion ensued about life in general and fire departments in particular. This fine man shared his views on strategy and tactics, as well as his hopes for an upcoming promotional exam. This guy was real friendly and down-to-earth, and went out of his way to make a young firefighter from Newark, NJ, comfortable. He appeared to possess all of those attributes which we now ascribe to a great person.

  • He was approachable.
  • He surely seemed to be a talented exponent of progress in the fire service.
  • And he was damned sure down-to-earth.

We became acquaintances that morning. And over the years, we have enjoyed a fine friendship with Chief Alan Brunacini of Phoenix.

So what have we said in this edition of Command Post? Some people attain true greatness. However, you will also find that these truly great people share what they know. They will encourage you to interact with them. They will fit in wherever they go. And they do not exude lofty airs of righteous self-importance. Not bad.

As my late father told me many years ago, "You will work with a number of people in your life who are average. They will be fine people in their own right and work hard for you. Just treat them like you'd want to be treated." Dad, you sure were right.

Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., will present "How Much Fire Department Is Enough?" at Firehouse Emergency Services Expo '97 in Baltimore July 24-27.


Harry R. Carter, Ph.D., a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a battalion chief with the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and past chief of the Adelphia, NJ, Fire Company.