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May 27, 2014, Winnipeg - Writing this blog allows me to take certain creative risks within a reasonable range. This is one of those times. The world of the fire service has become academic, and the focus of this post is to provide what I think may be Fire Fighting in Canada’s first ever book review.

May 27, 2014
By Jay Shaw

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May 27, 2014, Winnipeg – Writing this blog allows me to take certain
creative risks within a reasonable range. This is one of those times.
The world of the fire service has become academic, and the focus of this
post is to provide what I think may be Fire Fighting in Canada’s first ever book review. I can tell you that the focus of this review comes from the desperate need to keep the ball moving forward and advancing the knowledge and skills of firefighters from not only a tactical strategic point of view but also, in my humble opinion, the most important part of the job – the soft skills that encompass one’s character, values and ability to accept change while dealing with adverse conditions.

So I’ve put on my tweed coat, lit a pipe, and settled into a stuffy armchair; I’m actually sitting in my lazy boy with a beer. I have never done a book review before so bear with the analogies and get yourself a drink; this is going to be fun!

I will now review for you Leadership Prescribed – A Handbook for Fire Service Leaders, by Les Karpluk and Lyle Quan (2013). The book is available through the Firehall Bookstore . I believe the unofficial name is The Green Book, which I coined the second I saw the cover. I get no royalties, but a free book did arrive in the mail. I will not let that bias my opinion one bit. OK, maybe a little . . . I never said I was good at book reviews!

Leadership Prescribed (LP) is a long overdue manual on the ABCs of leadership. Long overdue not in the fact that it took Lyle and Les a long time to write it, rather a Canadian self-published book that deals with a major gap in the education and training of Canadian firefighters. This book is needed so badly, I felt it was necessary to give it my full attention. I have read it cover to cover twice, and can say with complete honesty it is a must read for all firefighters.

Leadership is a vast topic that includes a multitude of buzzwords such as management, communication, teamwork, and change. Leadership is the glue that holds all of these subjects together, and for every person who feels he or she understands the concept, there is a different definition of what it is, or may be. The book, in its 165 pages of knowledge, quick quotes, and motivational attributes, spells out the why and the how of leadership, so that fire-service members can actually visualize it. Seeing is believing in the fire hall, as we are, by nature, tactile hands on learners. Karpluk and Quan use stories and real-world concepts that take readers into the guts of decision making and common sense understanding of topics that are really challenging to define. The book is based on a value-building approach, which means for people to first lead, they must be able to see, and build value in themselves and others.

If you want a deeper understanding of what motivates workers from almost any generation, or how to deal with conflict in the fire station before it erupts on the fire ground, then this book is a must read. I personally like chapter 10, which reinforces the view that self-improvement and learning throughout your career is required and is not an option only for keeners and those with ambition.

The book has no downfalls, and while the information in the book is common-sense knowledge, we all know that common sense is not all that common. Leadership is like a living, breathing force that flows through many management topics and perspectives. Quan and Karpluk capture the big concepts of leadership and apply it to the fire service with ease. Nicely done men! Can I get my beer now?


Jay Shaw is a firefighter and primary care paramedic with the City
of Winnipeg. Along with multiple fire and emergency services courses and
certificates, Jay holds a masters degree in disaster and emergency
management from Royal Roads University and is an independent education
and training consultant focusing on leadership, management, emergency
preparedness and communication skills. Contact him at
jayshaw@mts.net and follow him on twitter @disasterbucket


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