Illinois Fire Service Institute


Leadership Development and Decision Making: Firefighter Suggested Reading List


As a firefighter, you have chosen a highly challenging profession, in fact, one that takes a lifetime to master. While practical experience, realistic training, and formal education are indispensable for the development of first-class leaders, so too is independent study. A program of independent reading keeps the mind fresh and enhances professionalism. The Instructors from the Leadership Development and Decision Making (LDDM) Program have complied their suggested Reading List which is designed to assist you in the development of your leadership and critical decision making skills.

For each suggested book the LDDM Instructors have provided a brief overview of the book along with why they think it is a "Good Read" for firefighters.

Suggested Reading

"So Others Might Live" - Terry Golway

In the first history of the New York Fire Department--FDNY--in over sixty years, journalist Terry Golway weaves together stories of heroic firefighters and extraordinary fires to create a moving and original account of New York as seen through the eyes and actions of the city's firefighters. From the eighteenth century's most ambitious publicworks project--the building of aqueducts from upstate to help control fires--to firefighterturned- politician Boss Tweed's backroom politics, fire and firefighters have played an integral part in the life of New York. So Others Might Live also offers a new view of the building of modern urban America and the social turbulence of New York from the 1700s to the present day.

This is a good read for firefighters because it provides a historical perspective of the fire service and how far we have come. It also helps to provide a reality to each firefighter's current work conditions.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

"Pride & Ownership: A Firefighter's Love of the Job" - Rick Lasky

Pride and Ownership holds no punches. Chief Rick Lasky takes a hard look at the fire service and finds it short on the only element that makes it effective: passion. Chief Lasky gives an upfront and honest criticism about the need to reignite the love of the job on every level, from chiefs on down.

Key Features of this book are:

  • History and traditions of the fire service with overviews of some of the most important fire service leaders
  • Detailed explanations of ceremonies for all occasions from a firefighter's initiation to retirement
  • Over 150 photos displaying the rites and ceremonies
  • Helpful appendices full of sample documents for fire company use

This is a good read for firefighters because it opens the discussion of Passion for the job, while present the reason for many fire service traditions.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

"Brannigan's Building Construction for the Fire Service" - Glenn P. Corbett & Francis L. Brannigan

For over forty years, Brannigan's Building Construction for the Fire Service has been the fire service's most trusted and comprehensive Building Construction resource available. Now in its' fifth edition, this bestselling resource continues to Honor Francis Brannigan's legacy by continuing his passion for detail and extensive practical experience. Brannigan's motto, "Know Your Buildings," can be seen in every aspect of this book.

The Fifth Edition features:

  • Coverage of the National Fire Academy's Fire and Emergency Services in Higher Education (FESHE)
  • Building Construction for Fire Protection Course Objectives.
  • Stand-alone chapter on new, light, green (solar) and modular construction.
  • Enhanced emphasis on tactical considerations

This is a good read for firefighters because it provides straightforward information on different building types and their unique hazards which I needed to keep firefighters safe on the job.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

"The Fire Service: History, Traditions & Beyond" - J.A. Rhodes

This book is for everyone who wonders why fire engines are red, why a chief has five "bugles" while a captain has two, why fire hydrants are sometimes called "fire plugs" and why we toll bells and play bagpipes at firefighter funerals.

This is a good read for firefighters because it provides the reason "why" for much of the fire service jargon and many of our traditions.

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  IFSI Library Amazon

"Collapse of Burning Buildings: A Guide to Fireground Safety" - Vincent Dunn

Chief Vincent Dunn, a 42-year fire service veteran, professes the dangers of structural failure caused by fire. This book is written to warn firefighters, company officers, and fire chiefs about exactly how structures collapse when destroyed by fire--and examines the subject of burning building collapse in great detail.

This is a good read for firefighters because it, unlike any other publication, instructs firefighters and fire officers in how to survive burning building collapse.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

Gates of Fire: An Epic Novel of the Battle of Thermopylae - Steven Pressfield

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  IFSI Library Amazon

To Sleep with the Angels: The Story of a Fire - By: David Owens & John Kuenster

In December of 1958 tragedy struck the Our Lady of the Angels school on Chicago’s west side. This was one of the deadliest fires in American history. This book recounts in detail the events that led up to this tragedy, the aftermath, and how it affected families, firefighters, the City of Chicago, and the nation.

This is a good read for Chief Officers because of the historical significance of this tragedy. A fire officer can relate to the why of fire code enforcement today. The impact on the Our Lady of the Angels community, and the impact on firefighters dealing with a tragedy like this gives fire officers an understanding of an event they could be potentially faced with someday.

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  IFSI Library Amazon

Pass It On - Billy Goldfeder and Friends

The book is a collection of short stories from more than 80 well-known fire service veterans. It shares many experiences of emergency services, some of which are humorous and some are filled with heartache, with a good amount of which I would consider smart-sense (vs common sense). It is a book that does not require a timely commitment to read it as the reader can put it down after reading one story to resume on the next story when the opportunity arises. The stories in this book apply to ALL members of the fire service, weather you are career, volunteer or a combination member. All the authors receive a brief introduction before their story – some of which are easy for the reader to relate to and some of which the reader will hope he never should experience.

This is a good read for Firefighters at all levels because it gets you thinking of how your actions can influence things to come. It is essentially giving nuggets of knowledge as you continue reading it.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

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