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Create a ‘Leadership Library’ to help develop your members’ skills

Check out this list of books to help launch your station’s leadership library so all members can access great content any time

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One way to show your members that you prioritize career development is to start a “Leadership Library” at your fire department headquarters or a station.

Photo/Kris Blume

This content originally appeared in FireRescue1’s Fire Chief Leadership Briefing newsletter. Sign up here for the latest leadership insights.

Lifelong learning is key to a successful fire service career, whether through continuous training on critical skill sets or growing your leadership attributes.

One way to show your members that you prioritize career development is to start a “Leadership Library” at your fire department headquarters or a station.

Meridian (Idaho) Fire Chief Kris Blume showed us his library: “I will forever be a reader of books – big and small. One of the best investments I can make for the benefit of our organization is this self-funded leadership library. I always find myself asking my peers, ‘What are you reading?’ and more often than not, I share a favorite book with friends and colleagues. When members of our team ask what I am reading, I point them to this library. It’s a take one and bring it back … if you want; lend it to someone else … if you want, kind of exchange. It’s my personal investment in future leaders.”

So, where should you begin? Here are several books to get your Leadership Library started, with some inspiration pulled from FireRescue1 columnists and contributors.

Leadership lessons from beyond the fire service


Some of the greatest leadership books offer tips that can be applied to any profession, industry or service. These books might not use fire service-focused examples, but the lessons are universal.

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni

“Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs lead and win” by Navy SEAL Jocko Willink

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” by Angela Duckworth

“Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change” by William Bridges

“It’s Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy” by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff

  • In his article “Leadership styles change – and that’s a good thing,” Chief John Morrison quotes Captain Abrashoff: “Leaders need to understand how profoundly they affect people, how their optimism and pessimism are equally infectious, how directly they set the tone and spirit of everyone around them.”

“Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World” by David Epstein

“Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy

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Chief Marc Bashoor recommends the following leadership books:

from our Fire service leaders


Now, if you really want to get your leadership lessons from within the industry, there are more than enough options to add to your Leadership Library.

Deputy Chief Billy Goldfeder has produced not one, not two, but three “Pass It On” books, sharing words of wisdom from dozens of fire service leaders, with book sales benefitting the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation:

Fire Chief Alan Brunacini revolutionized the fire service’s approach to command, safety and customer service. We are fortunate that Bruno shared his indelible advice on these topics in some of the most read fire-focused publications. While not easy to find – or cheap – the late chief’s books would be a fantastic addition to any Leadership Library:

From the firerescue1 community


Members of the FireRescue1 community offered these recommendations for the Leadership Library:

What books would you add to your station or department Leadership Library? Email editor@firerescue1.com.

Janelle Foskett is the editor-in-chief of FireRescue1.com, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading execution of special coverage efforts. She also serves as the co-host of FireRescue1’s Better Every Shift podcast. Foskett joined the Lexipol team in 2019 and has nearly 20 years of experience in fire service media and publishing. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and a certificate in technical communications from the University of California, San Diego. Ask questions or submit ideas via email.
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