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Chief Reggie Freeman: ‘I refused to be the weakest link’

The former Oakland fire chief talks lifelong learning, the biggest challenge of his career, plus ‘calculated aggression,’ future book titles and pet peeves

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On this episode of the Better Every Shift podcast, then-Oakland Fire Chief Reggie Freeman joins Zam to talk:

  • The unspoken battle – or war – between new and older members;
  • Changing how we define competence;
  • Why diversity is a choice for fire departments;
  • Chiefs who have forgotten where they came from;
  • The motivation of injustice; and
  • His kids’ future in the fire service (??).


  • Hot seat sneak peek: What’s your biggest pet peeve?
  • Don’t miss: His advice to his 18-year-old self.
  • Episode power-quote: “Family inspires me, injustice motivates me.”


Listen to the next show: Chief Josh Waldo: ‘You’re only going to grow when you get uncomfortable’

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Better Every Shift Podcast
Better Every Shift Podcast

FireRescue1’s Better Every Shift Podcast spotlights the passion and perseverance of firefighters. Hosted by Aaron Zamzow, a firefighter with the Madison (Wisconsin) FD, and FireRescue1 Editor-in-Chief Janelle Foskett, the show brings kitchen table conversations to the airwaves, always focused on solutions, positivity and the realities of station life. Zamzow and guests tackle myriad hot topics, whether fire service-, news- or even pop culture-focused, bringing some levity to the often very serious nature of the profession. Dig into what drives firefighters to improve themselves, their crew, even the fire service as a whole. Listen in to get better every day, every call, every shift.