Is Your Legacy Worth Living?

In this commentary I want to challenge you to do a reality check on your fire department's legacy. Is it a good one?


Let me assure you that I have followed this for many years and that those folks who have chosen to invest in the delivery of water to extinguish fires have done quite well indeed. As a matter of fact, those who have been able to generate support for residential fire sprinkler systems have done quite well indeed. 

Be grateful for those individuals in the past who have chosen to grab the reins of leadership with both hands, yanked hard and exercised a proactive approach to command, control, and future planning. Oh, they were no always right, but let me assure you that they made far fewer mistakes than the shrinking violets who stayed on the sidelines and invested none of their individual capital in anything which involved any sort of risk. 

As a friend of mine told me many years ago, "…do not follow where the path may lead. Chose instead a new path and leave a trail for others to follow." In line with this thought, I have developed a personal philosophy which has served me well over the past several decades. I read, research, think, and then write about that which I believe to be the best way to do a given task.

Am I always right? Heck no. However, let me suggest that I have proven to be more right than wrong over the course of my professional career. As I approach my first Social Security check in July, I want you to know that I have no plans to change how I operate. I intend to carry the baton of fire service leadership for as long as the Good Lord allows me breath to carry on. Take care.

HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., a Firehouse contributing editor, is a fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. He is chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Howell Township Fire District 2 and retired from the Newark Fire Department as a battalion commander. Dr. Carter has been a member of the Adelphia Fire Company since 1971, serving as chief in 1991. He is a life member and past president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors and life member of the National Fire Protection Association. He is vice president of the Institution of Fire Engineers-USAmerica. Dr. Carter holds a Ph.D. in organization and management from Capella University in Minneapolis, MN. You can find his "The View From my Front Porch" blog here.