The memoir tells the full story about this gag award from the Benevolent Association.
Fort Lauderdale firefighter Herbie Blabon tried pulling several pranks on me that usually backfired. Here he accepted his service award with fake glasses and misaligned hat. I responded by donning this hat and giving my goofiest “Stan Laurel” smile. The memoir has many more pranking stories.
“Professional pride and humor help build successful work groups.”
Q & A
Q: Why did you write Memoir of a Fire Chief?
A: I wanted to outline what firefighters and officers in two different fire departments did to promote health and safety. I also wanted to tell stories from a fire chief’s point of view and convey how that perspective varies from that of firefighters, although there are many similarities. Writing the memoir also gave me an opportunity to examine my life.
Q: What did you learn from writing Memoir of a Fire Chief?
A: To paraphrase a line in the memoir, it takes more contemplation to teach a subject than to study one. The same observation applies to writing versus reading. The main thing I learned is reflected in the book’s keynote: how the influences of family, friends, people we admire, experiences, and institutions like religion and education all shape our being. I am a product of all these influences. Reflecting on these influences through writing enabled me to discuss topics such as substance versus appearance, character and values, race and gender, management and labor—specifically leadership and employee development, and communication. I also learned more about where I failed or succeeded in all these categories.
Q: What themes run through the memoir?
A: Besides the topics already mentioned, the value of paying attention, how to think versus what to think, and color. These themes appear in the dedication page and first chapter, then throughout the book and are summarized in the final chapter.
Q: Why did you choose to write in episodes?
A: Episodes demonstrate how parts of our lives make up the whole of who we are. Some episodes go back and forth in time because it took me years to recognize their significance in my life.
Q: Do you still believe emergency vehicles should be painted lime yellow for safety?
A: No, that’s none of my business because I’m no longer responsible for firefighters’ health and safety. I merely provided reasons for my decisions. To paraphrase another line in the memoir, “As an educator I always tried to gain people’s attention, then spark discussions on learning.”
Q: What was the hardest part of writing the memoir?
A: Writing stories that would appeal to people outside the fire service. That meant keeping technical language and irreverent behavior storytelling to a minimum.
Q: What did you enjoy most about writing Memoir of a Fire Chief?
A: Reliving the opportunity to express my two favorite human emotions—love and humor. That’s what a career in the fire service gave me.