Show cover of Side Alpha Leadership

Side Alpha Leadership

The Side Alpha Leadership Podcast explores leadership in all fields of work. Guests talk about leading people and making a positive mark in their hearts and minds, while creating a cohesive team to accomplish the desired goals of an organization


Tactical Considerations for Garden Apartment Fires
Tactical Considerations for Garden Apartment Fires   One of the more complex fires we are faced with is fires in garden apartments. This month I welcome back Capt. Bobby Eckert of the Camden New Jersey Fire Department. Bobby and I dig deep into the subject.   Garden Apartments are in all areas of the country. Firefighters must be proactive and preplan these structures before the alarm is ever answered. Take advantage of running non fire calls in these buildings and get the layout of the complex and the individual apartment units. This preplan will pay dividends when you pull up to a job at 3am.   Bobby and I discuss: ·      Pulling long lines ·      Laddering the building ·      Apparatus placement ·      Command considerations ·      Building construction ·      Fire spread   Small fire can grow and spread quickly if engine and truck companies are not aggressive with their tactics.
61:23 6/6/24
The art of decision making
This month I ask the questions, why are people reluctant to make decisions? How do we overcome the fear of making a decision on the fireground? what tools can we use to help people to make quick decisions with less than perfect information. I enlist the help of Deputy Chief Shane Darwick. Shane is a longtime friend, mentor, and teacher. Shane can keep calm, filter out the external noise and distraction on chaotic emergency incident and instill command presence. Shane offers over 40 years of experiences in the fire service to answer my questions on the art of decision making.
57:04 5/2/24
I'll take "what do firefighters hate" for $1000, What is change
This month I sit down with my boys RJ and Sam. we talk tactics, learning new things, keeping your emotions in check and dealing with the dreaded word, change! It was great to just freestyle the conversation.
66:50 4/1/24
Treat your people like you want to be treated
This month I speak with Steve Jones. Steve retired from Montgomery County MD as the Operations Deputy Chief. Steve and I have known each other for many years. We both started as High School Cadets for the fire department. Steve talks about his career in the fire service and what he learned along the way. He used what he learned as he progressed through the ranks to the number 2 spot in the county.  Steve has the old school mentality when it comes to firefighting and lives by the simple philosophy, treat people how you want to be treated.  Steve shows no signs of slowing down. He accepted the position, Fire Administrative Manager in Dover Delaware. Steve will be the first career leader in this new combination system.
63:38 3/1/24
Your people deserve the best leaders. Train to be the best
In this episode I talk with Battalion Chief Rafael Gibson. Chief Gibson is  assigned to the Training Academy in Montgomery County Maryland. As chiefs we demand our people to train every day and be the best. Your people expect you to be equally trained to be the best. Chief Gibson discusses the new line officers training program, the advancements in command officers command competency program and continuing professional development.  For more information on these programs contact Chief Gibson at 
73:52 2/1/24
Going old school with my dad
In this episode I sit down with my dad Mike Kerr. We discuss the fire service back in the day and how it has changed. My dad tells his story about his love of the fire service as a kid and how he got started as a volunteer in Prince Georges County in Greenbelt, to becoming a career firefighter with the DCFD as a Tillerman at T12.  Our family moved from Prince Georges County to Montgomery County, where he became a volunteer with the Burtonsville Vol. Fire Dept. He moved through the volunteer ranks and eventually became the longest serving chief. He honed his leadership skills and became a respected Chief through the county. 
65:53 1/1/24
To make big changes you have to start small
This month I had the pleasure to speak to Asst. Chief Siddiq. We discussed a lot of topics. Change in the fire service is hard and you will be met with resistance if you try to go big right away. The key is to start small, get buy from those closest to you. Be honest with your reason for change. Making decisions will come easier through training. Members will gain confidence with their skills and feel at ease making decisions. Let you firefighters plan and run drills. Finally, as a senior member of your organization you need to train you subordinates to one day move into your position. This new generation will want to know the reasons why we do the things we do. Take the time to explain and be patient, remember you were the new guy once.
60:34 12/1/23
The new guy, senior staff and expectations
This month I have Stephnie White back on the show. We discuss the new firefighters coming into the service. Are they too soft or are we projecting our rookie time onto them and is that fair? We discussed station members' expectations of seinor staff and vice versa.  if station members run for cover when the chiefs come to the station, the chiefs have a huge communication issue. we discussed how to overcome that communication gap.
55:56 11/1/23
Honest Communications, trust and good relationships = great morale
This month I welcome back Dr. Shelly Wheeler. Shelly is a Captain assigned to the training academy in Montgomery County Maryland. Shelly and I talk about how to make morale good in the fire service, foster a culture where firefighter make decision and prepare them for the next step in their careers. Start the officer prep the moment firefighters come off probation and continue until they sit for their first promotional exam.
65:22 10/11/23
Who's the mentor, You're the mentor!
This month I welcome back RJ (Robert James) we dig into the topic of being a mentor. It is important to take the new firefighters under your wing, guide them and set them on the path to be successful. It is everyone’s job to ensure we are turning out the best firefighters. Remember your rookie is a reflection of you and your shift.  In the 2nd part of the show, we discuss officer development. The fire service drops the ball when it comes to teaching firefighter to become officers who can make quick decisions with imperfect information. What does the perfect officer development school look like? How long should it last? Sure, it will cost money, but you can put a price on well trained fire service leaders.
58:00 9/1/23
The Training Officer steers the ship
This month I sit down with Chief Dave McGlynn. We talk about his new book "The Training Officer" Being a training officer is hard work, but rewarding. We talk about the culture of the fire service. Many say we need to change the culture of the fire service, but I don't believe that. I think we should always try to enhance the culture of the fire service and strive to make it better, but not change it. The fire service has a rich history and the culture is a large part of it.
70:02 8/1/23
You say you take care of your people, but do you really?
You need to invest in your people to know when something is wrong. Firefighters are reluctant to ask for help, so you need to spot trouble and get the help members may need. When you promote to a leadership position you are always on duty for your people. You have to answer the phone when someone reaches out to you. You may be their last call when their whole world is falling apart around them.  As a leader you are always on, you accept that role when you are in that position. Make sure you know the resources available in your department to get the help your people need.
60:44 7/5/23
Recruitment dilemma and Officer Development
This episode I speak with Steve Prziborowski. Steve and I talk about the low recruitment numbers in the fire service. Many jurisdictions are struggling with recruiting the number of potential candidates to come to the job.  Once again I discuss officer development and how to get experience to become a successful officer.
75:11 6/8/23
Where Police and Fire intersect
This month I talk with Steve Hamilton. Steve explains the complex incidents the police face and how the fire department fits in to help. There are many hurdles to overcome: building trust building relations training together knowing each others limitations having each others backs There is a role for the fire department during active shooter incident, barricade incidents and SWAT/SRT callouts.
85:56 5/10/23
My random thoughts on fire service life and getting promoted
This month I go solo with no guest. I took the time to answer some questions from listeners from social media. I touch several subjects  Promotion exams Dealing with difficult people Recognize your shortcomings  What made me decide to be a chief My advice to the new firefighter How do we make training friendly to volunteers  
53:20 4/16/23
EEO and the Fire Service
This month I speak with Stephanie White. Stephanie is an 18 year veteran career firefighter in the Washington Metro area. She hosts a podcast on Fire Engineering called "5 after Midnight" Stephanie and I talk about EEO in the fire service and how it falls short in the fire service. Although we follow the laws there are gray areas that EEO does not account for. As firefighters and officers we must navigate the gray areas. Strive to be good human beings and trust that each person on your shift has you back during an emergency. We discuss moving forward in the fire service and how to attract new firefighters of all sex, race and religions without having politicians change physical entrance requirements to achieve their vision of a diverse fire service. We close with being a mentor and leader for the next generation.
69:28 3/6/23
Leadership learned through the eyes of a Coast Guardsmen
This month I speak with Jessica Shafer. Jessica talks about her time as a young Coast Guardsmen to being the first female commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Cape Disappointment. She navigated many hurdles to become a respected officer in the Coast Guard. Her thought about leadership, self-reflection and desire to be better everyday, made her the strong person she is today.
79:53 2/1/23
Risk Management, in the fire service and the world
I welcome back Dr. (Capt.) Shelly Wheeler We talk about risk management, how we approach it on the fire ground and how the business world deals with it. Our fire service has evolved over the years, but the dangers are still there. We have become a smarter service and we still do the job, accept the risk, but now we are armed with the lessons from the past. Our job will always be dangerous and we are still aggressive and will never lose sight of our mission.  
59:08 1/7/23
Navigating the minefield of a bad boss
On this episode Frank Ricci and I offer advice on dealing with a boss who only has his interests in mind. How can the Sr. firefighter approach the officer to initiate a conversation. What to do if there is a trust issue with line officers or chief officers and how to have effective conversations. Frank and I offer advice on starting the conversations in a respectful way and getting the positive results.
67:18 12/1/22
Learn, Lead and Pass it on
I welcome Asst. Chief Justin McCarthy of the New Haven Fire Dept. to the show. Justin and I talk about the lack of leadership training in the fire department. What would a good leadership class would look like. How do we encourage our people to make decisions and not live in fear of getting in trouble.  Never forget we are always students and we must strive to learn everyday  
66:56 11/1/22
Who helps the helpers
I took the show in a different direction this month. As emergency service workers and military, we are exposed to terrible things. There are times we need help to cope and process. We are fortunate to have Behavioral Health Specialists imbedded in the fire service, police force and military to help. I had the pleasure of speaking to Frederick County's Behavioral Health Coordinator Natalie Bowers. Natalie discussed her work and what she offers to the men and women of Frederick County Fire and Rescue. We don't have to suffer alone there is a path to good mental health for us and our families.  This is such great information in this podcast. Please take the time to listen. There are links on my Facebook as Instagram to seek addition help and information.
65:43 10/3/22
Why does the boss Micromanage
Sam and I talked about what to do when the boss has his hands in your job and how you can resolve the issue. Good respectful communication is key. Most likely the boss does not realize he is micromanaging you.  As an officer you need to make decisions. it is ok to make mistakes. Own your mistakes and share what you learned with your crew and peers.
59:39 9/10/22
Leading Through Training
I welcome Dave McGlynn to my show. Dave is the Training Assistant Chief at Letterkenny Army Depot. Dave shares his experience as a chief on how to overcome shortcomings, lack of experience and administrative  knowledge through training, putting your ego in check and asking for help. Having pride in your company is great, make sure your pride does not blind you to learning new things. 
70:20 8/7/22
Combination Systems in the fire department
RJ and Sam join me in the studio to discuss combination fire and rescue system and the challenges that arise in these systems. COVID has eased up and we are being called to teach more. We talk about upcoming classes we are teaching and how training helps bring career and volunteers together to focus on the fire service mission. 
60:55 7/16/22
How do we communicate with each other
Frank Ricci and I discuss firehouse communications. There are many ways, as leaders we communicate with our officers and firefighters. It is an art and as a boss you have to learn how to master it. The kitchen table is a great place to have discussions and learn to listen to your people. Mastering 1 on 1 communications allows you to gain great insight as to what is going on inthe stations and resolve conflicts and finally stop rumors that are false and offer insight on things that are true. Being a great communicator and listener grows your leadership credibility. 
63:15 6/5/22
Once a Marine and now a Firefighter Pt. 3
Part 3 of my interview with Dave Braun. Dave has a great story that you have to hear. Make sure you listen to part 1 and 2.  To all the leaders out there, make sure you are there for your people. Make sure you recognize when they are in need of help.
72:15 5/2/22
Once a Marine always a Marine and now a Firefighter Part 2
I continue the podcast with Dave Braun. 
64:57 4/10/22
Once a Marine always a Marine, and now a Firefighter too!
Dave Braun joins me on the show again. David dives deep into his personal life through all the ups and downs and how he succeeded as a Marine, husband, dad and a firefighter. He tells all the lessons he learned along the way.
66:47 4/1/22
Forget about all that macho S@&T and learn how to play guitar
In this episode I take a different direction. I had the pleasure of talking to my long time friend Kemo. Kemo was the guitar play in our band. Kemo has been busy over the last 30 years including music, stand up comedy, recording a parody album, being a dad and a husband. We reminisce about the band days being on stage and just having fun.
62:11 3/15/22
A reflection on 2021
This month I reflect on 2021 what has happened along the way what is up with me and what the future brings. I have no guest this month, it is just me and the podcast is short only 2o min. So enjoy and  will see you in 2022!
22:57 12/3/21