By Les Karpluk
June 19, 2014, Prince Albert, Sask. - Recently I was privileged to speak at the recent Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) conference in Grande Prairie. When I arrived at my hotel I was running late and the first person I bumped into was none other than Fire Fighting in Canada editor Laura King.
By Les Karpluk
June 19, 2014, Prince Albert, Sask. – Recently I was privileged to speak
at the recent Alberta Fire Chiefs Association (AFCA) conference in
Grande Prairie. When I arrived at my hotel I was running late and the
first person I bumped into was none other than Fire Fighting in Canada editor Laura King.
I didn’t know where to register or where I was presenting the next day, and Laura quickly and calmly filled me in on the location for the evening barbecue, the transportation to the site, briefed me on where I would be speaking the next day and summarized the days events for me. Talk about being calm and in control…
I also bumped into Jason Hoevelmann and Fire Engineering editor Bobby Halton in the lobby. Jason and I had never met, but we had been exchanging direct messages via Twitter to meet and talk about leadership over a cup of coffee. Jason started the Facebook page The New Fire Officer and I was anxious to sit down and chat with him.
I knew Halton was scheduled for a keynote session, but I never thought I would actually get a chance to talk to him. Jason introduced himself and then he introduced Halton. So, the smartest thing that came out of my mouth was, “Pleased to meet you, can you spell your last name?” Yup, talk about a lasting impression.
Both Jason and Bobby were waiting for a ride to the evening BBQ and I didn’t want to hold them up, so we each did a photo op, tweeted it, and I excused myself and grabbed the elevator to get to my room. While I was in the elevator the only thing I could think of was the fact that I asked Bobby Halton to spell his last name for me and I felt like a true moron.
Thankfully, Bobby and Jason were still in the lobby when I returned to catch the bus to the barbeque, and I was able have a few minutes to chat with both of them. It’s amazing how you can bounce around some ideas even when your time is limited, and my take away from Bobby Halton was that as much as the profession is important, our families and time with them is more important.
The theme for the conference was Collaborating for Change, and as I engaged in conversations with attendees, I was reminded of a John Maxwell quote, “People often forget that you can't improve and still stay the same. Growth means change. Change requires challenging the status quo. If you want greater possibilities, you can't settle for what you have now.”
I was able to sit in on presentations by Hoevelmann and Nick Brunacini, and they both emphasized the need for change. It was interesting to hear from Brunacini how he felt the Phoenix Fire Department was proactive during his career to change the way training was conducted in the department. Jason provided excellent examples for the “new” fire officer, and when you strip away the layers of his presentation, he was really identifying areas in which today’s fire officer must change in order to lead successfully and authentically.
My take away from the AFCA conference in Grande Prairie is straightforward: when you lead for change, it can take a long time to reach the desired outcomes – expect bumps and bruises along the way.
Without collaborating for change, departments simply will not achieve the greatness that they deserve.
One more take away from the conference: as I as leaving the banquet, Grande Prairie Fire Chief Dan Lemieux quickly approached me and thanked me for presenting at the conference and handed me a challenge coin with “Proudly Serving Since 1918” on one side, and “IAFF 2770” on the reverse. It was the first time I had a chance to meet Chief Lemieux and the pride in his department was clearly evident.
I am truly grateful for receiving this challenge coin and am honored to have receive this gift. Thank-you, chief!
Retired chief Les Karpluk served with the Prince Albert Fire Department in
Saskatchewan. He is a graduate of the Lakeland College Bachelor of
Business in Emergency Services program and Dalhousie University’s Fire
Administration and Fire Service Leadership programs. Follow Les on
Twitter at @GenesisLes