Battalion Chief Matt Tobia of Ann Arundel County, MD, gave an interesting interview at FRI recently. The title, “Thinking Strategically, Acting Tactically: Building A Culture of Extinguishment” is a dog whistle of sorts that invokes Ray McCormack’s (in)famous speech at FDIC 2009. The interview covers leadership and the much-talked-about rules of engagement that various organizations are bringing out. Chief Tobia’s point seems to be that a culture of safety is a culture of extinguishment. Thus the choice of a title many view as a paradox in terms.
He hits a lot of our hobby horses: outcomes versus outputs, strategic leadership, aviation-safety developments trickling into the fire service, overseas fire service norms coming to North America, and what many see as inherent conflict between safety and extinguishment. This is a man after my own heart and I recommend you listen to this podcast if you want a glimpse of the future. These things- performance management, greater use of outcome-based leadership, Crew Resource Management, and certain norms in European fire service models- will be trickling into the North American fire service over the next couple of decades. That is because our 1980 model (the dominant US/Canadian paradigm) is incompatible with reality in 2010 and departments all over the US and Canada are waking to that fact.