Like many, I’ve also been exposed to countless nuggets of operational wisdom and leadership insight simply by sitting at the kitchen table. I vividly remember assembling after dinner and listening to some of our best and brightest recall fires of the past and the warhorses that led them. Although narratives like these were long considered an established norm, in recent times they have sadly evaded LAFD galleys like dust in the wind.
Can you imagine the value in sitting at a kitchen table listening to FF Silgen passionately discuss the importance of salvage and overhaul? Or Engineer Molle discussing ventilation tactics as if he were an A/O? How about Capt Nipp speaking on the true meaning of leadership? Or A/O Carter discussing ways to improve Multi-Co ventilation operations? Or even the son (Capt Nowell) of an LA City Councilman sharing his blueprint for HR Fire-attack?
Being exposed to such kitchen table wisdom amplified my fireground education as I’m sure similar sit-downs enriched many of yours. As a young lad, FS 10 was my university and those glorious men of days gone by were my professors. Although the aforementioned greats and many like them have faded into darkness, their legacies continue to resonate amongst a selected few at kitchen tables all across the land.
How you may ask are we shaped by the endowments of those who have slipped from the memories of most? Answer: Because disciples of their teachings remain in our presence even today. Disciples, where? Well, let’s just count a few: Although we no longer have FF Silgen, we have Jeff Haas. Although we no longer have Eng Molle, we have Paul Nelson. Although we no longer have Capt Nipp, we have Jeff Ambarian. Although we no longer have A/O Carter, we have Steve Wynne. Although no longer have Capt Nowell, we have Mark Martinez.
That’s all well and good you may say, but if I’m not assigned to one of these “seasoned” officers how can I learn of their wisdom? How can I parlay their teachings into tangible results? And how can I pass on these lessons to those in search of refining their skills? Well, through the combined efforts of The Firemen’s Grapevine and several participating officers, a series of articles will seek to address just that.
Beginning next month I will facilitate a monthly article entitled Kitchen Table Wisdom. Each article will take on a single operational and leadership issue which many of our finest captains will comment upon. The selected officers will provide astute commentary in addressing many of today’s challenging issues based on their operational wisdom and leadership acumen.
As with all tactical and leadership matters, there are multiple considerations and courses of action that can be taken. This series of articles therefore is simply an attempt to provide further guidance as seen through the eyes of our most “seasoned” officers. In the first article released next month, readers will gain insight into the decision-making process of Captain’s John Paxton, Selwyn Lloyd and Matt Ott.
For those who would like to have a specific operational or leadership question answered via this forum (your name will remain confidential), email your request to: Gerald.Bedoya@LACity.Org
by Jerry Bedoya, Capt FS 10