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Under Control

Editor’s note: Today, we expand our network of insightful and engaging writers with Les Karpluk’s Under Control blog. Les, the fire chief in Prince Alberta, Sask., is passionate about learning and is keen to share his insight on leadership and the fire service. Les’s blog will build on the content of the Leadership Forum column he writes with Chief Lyle Quan for Fire Fighting in Canada. We hope you will engage with Les, debate him and learn from his musings.

February 4, 2013 
By Les Karpluk

Feb. 4, 2013, Prince Albert, Sask. – Well, the day has arrived and I am officially blogging for Fire Fighting in Canada. Not unlike the columns that I write for FFIC with my good friend Fire Chief Lyle Quan, I plan to continue to bring forward ideas on leadership in the fire service, albeit through a blog.

One of the many benefits of a blog is the opportunity for two-way communication, and the exchange of ideas and thoughts between the reader and the writer. So, it will not come as any surprise if some eyebrows are raised after reading my blog, but, isn’t that what we should be doing as a profession – raising eyebrows as we move forward with our leadership development in the profession?

I am simply amazed at the talent we have in our profession here in Canada. Through my speaking engagements across Canada I have had numerous opportunities to talk to firefighters and fire chiefs from career, volunteer and combination departments. We have more in common than people realize and although the names and faces are different, the words of the song are the same: the time has come for authentic leadership in our profession, so let’s work together to make it happen.

While on vacation or attending a training session in another city, one of my joys is to stop in at a local station and ask for a tour or just talk to the guys and gals on duty. It doesn’t take long to get a real sense of the pride members have in their departments, and, conversely, it doesn’t take long to get a sense that something isn’t right in the station. Now, I don’t have a Spiderman tattoo on my arm, but, thankfully, I can count on two fingers when my Spidy senses were telling me to get out of Dodge.


We have volunteer and career fire fighters who understand the big picture of leadership; we have fire chiefs who fly under the radar while they are making significant changes in how our profession is viewed locally, provincially and at a national level.

My intention is to provide some thoughts on leadership and to push the envelope on ideas that can impact how we lead in our profession. Some of the information I pass along may be a review of what you already know, while other information will, hopefully, make you sit up in your chair.

I am looking forward to my journey in the blogging world and working with members of our great profession. Of course, my thoughts in this space are my own and in no way represent my employer (the cover-my-butt indemnity clause).

I want to end this inaugural blog with a quote from Mohammed Ali. “Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them. A desire, a dream, a vision.”

Let’s just say that leaders are made because they have something deep inside them, a desire, a dream and a vision to make a difference. Our profession is full of these leaders.

Until next time, lead within and grow.

Les Karpluk is the fire chief in Prince Albert, Sask. He is a
graduate of the Lakeland College Bachelor of Business in Emergency
Services program and Dalhousie University's Fire Service Leadership and
Administration program. Contact him at

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