Illinois Fire Service Institute


Leadership Development and Decision Making: Fire Officer Suggested Reading List


At this point in your career I am sure you are aware that your chosen profession of firefighting is very challenging and will take a lifetime to master. Now to make that challenge even greater you have accepted a promotion to fire officer which brings an entirely new set of challenges. 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 Instructor's from the Leadership Development and Decision Making (LDDM) Program have compiled 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 fire officers.

Suggested Reading

"Fire Officer's Handbook of Tactics" - John Norman

Modern firefighting is a continually evolving science, with new technologies constantly being applied to the fire service. In the latest edition of this perennial favorite, Chief John Norman examines these new technologies and how they affect fireground tactics. He also details the new role firefighters play in homeland security. What is offered here is a guide for the firefighter and the fire officer who, having learned the basic mechanics of the trade, are now looking for specific methods for handling specific situations.

Some key learning points in the book are:

  • Garden apartment and townhouse fires
  • Fire Department's role in terrorism
  • Building construction
  • High-rise firefighting
  • Standpipe and sprinkler operations
  • Hoseline selections and placement
  • Engine and Truck company operations
  • Operation in lightweight buildings

This is a MUST read for fire officers because each chapter is filled with invaluable lessons and knowledge from someone who has and continues to be a student of the fire service.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

"From Buddy to Boss: Effective Fire Service Leadership" - Chase Sargent

Whether you're a new officer or in need of a mentor, From Buddy to Boss: Effective Fire Service Leadership, is a must-have management book you'll turn to over and over again. Fire service veteran Chase Sargent explains how to accept and survive politics, deal with the fringe employees, and keep your cool -- tricks of the trade that usually take years to acquire.

Some key learning points in this book are:

  • Your credibility is a valuable currency that takes time to build up. What you do, not what you say, is the ultimate test of your credibility, reinforcing your expectations.
  • That leadership requires individuals and organizations to create an environment where people and their ideas can thrive.
  • That the quickest ways to lose trust are to inconsistently apply and enforce rules and to allow your personal feelings to dictate what you will and won't enforce.
  • Why leading by example and from the front -- doing, not saying -- is critical to your success.

This is a good read for fire officers because "From Buddy to Boss" is like turning to a trusted friend for wisdom and advice you can count on to improve your job performance. This is a must read for the fire officer who wants to successfully make the difficult transition "From Buddy to Boss."

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

"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 fire officers 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 working 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 fire officers because it provides straightforward information on different building types and their unique hazards which is needed to keep firefighters safe on the job.

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  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 fire officers 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 fire officers because it, unlike any other publication, instructs firefighters and fire officers in how to survive burning building collapse.

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  IFSI Library Amazon

Passion of Command: The Moral Imperative of Leadership - Bryan McCoy

Active-duty Marine Colonel B. P. McCoy expertly relays his innermost thoughts and feelings, drawing on his mastery of personal leadership. He understands the intangibles that make up our modern-day warriors, those young Americans on whom we place so much responsibility when we send them into harm's way. Col McCoy describes the total cost of combat and the price paid by all who choose to become a warrior. By pointing to positive training examples and keying on the effects of situational training, battle drills, conducted prior to and during combat, he successfully trained his Marines and developed the proper habits that would be the difference between life and death during combat.

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  IFSI Library

Firepsyche: Mental Toughness & The Valor Mindset for the Fireground - Battalion Chief Eric J. Nurnberg and Micheal J. Asken, Ph.D.

Firepsyche is a must read for all levels of the fire service. It is a one of a kind book that dives into how our minds operate and react under pressure. The authors do an amazing job relating all of the information to the fire service with tangible facts and examples. This book not only focuses on what, why, and how we react to stressors, but how to combat the detrimental reactions and embrace the enhancing reactions from stress. They call this the O-ZONE (Optimal Zone of Natural Excellence) and it is when you achieve your ideal performance state. In addition, The Valor Mindset (Vigilance, Awareness, Leadership, and Optimal Resilience) is made up of the essential tenets that are needed for enhanced mental toughness. It is described in depth and numerous tactics, as well as, mental evolutions are provided for developing this state of readiness.

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  IFSI Library Amazon

Fire Department Strategic Planning Creating Future Excellence, (2nd Ed.) - Mark Wallace

Fire Department Strategic Planning explains that each department takes a road to get where it is going, but how you get there is the most important objective. Chief Wallace takes you from looking at your department’s: environment, values, vision, current strategic plans and to find the weaknesses. Then how to set into place, a strategic plan to be able to get and keep your department moving forward.

This is a good read for Fire Officers who desire to be a part of developing a road map to move their department in a positive direction.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

Strategy of Firefighting - Vincent Dunn, Deputy Chief, FDNY (Ret.)

This is a "how to" book written by a "know how" person for anyone who practices firefighting strategy. Deputy Chief Vincent Dunn is passing on to the next generation of firefighters the lessons ("strategy summaries") he learned from his years of firefighting experience. He describes firefighting strategies for the most common types of fire scenarios and identifies specific firefighting problems presented to an incident commander by occupancy and construction type. More importantly, he explains firefighting solutions and offers firefighting plans, standard procedures, action plans, ideas, guidelines, explanations, key steps, and systems of firefighting procedures.

This is a good read for Fire Officers who want to know more about the Strategy of Firefighting. This book is not about tactics. It's about strategy - plans of firefighting, along with logical ways to solve problems at fires.

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  IFSI Library Amazon

Fire Command - The Essentials of Local IMS, (2nd Ed.) - Alan V. Brunacini

Fire Command guides the reader through the eight functions of Command (in-depth) and how they fit easily into the Incident Command System. From a Type 5 up to a Type 1 incident, a clear majority of the time it begins with the first piece of apparatus arriving on the scene. How important it is for that first arriving officer to be able to set into play the incident command system so the incident flows properly.

This is a good read for Fire Officers who desire to understand the importance communication, accountability, customer service.

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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.

Find this book:
  IFSI Library Amazon

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