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An Interview with Fire Author Randy R. Bruegman

Posted by Public Safety Group on 3/12/21 10:34 AM


As part of the Jones & Bartlett Learning Public Safety Group Author Interview series, we had the chance to talk with Randy Bruegman about his upcoming book, Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Second Edition, to learn more about his experience, his thoughts on the book, what’s new in the book, and why he thinks it’s a valuable contribution to the fire service community.

Check out the interview below and a video of Randy Bruegman discussing the Second Edition here:

Can you tell us about your background in the fire service?

I have over 40 career years in the fire service, along with approximately 4 years as a volunteer. I joined the fire service at a young age and had the chance to move up the ranks, including serving as a Fire Chief for 27 years in five different jurisdictions. I retired from my position of Fire Chief from Anaheim Fire and Rescue in December 2018. Additionally, I served as the President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) from 2002-2003 and served as the President of the Board for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE) from 2004-2017. I have written several texts, developed five video-based instructional packages, and I have lectured throughout North America at the national, state, and local levels.

Why did you want to write Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Second Edition?

One of the major reasons why I wanted to write this book is that I want to continue giving back to the firefighting profession. One of the best ways to do that is to write the materials that young officers and firefighters use as they go through their associate’s and bachelor’s degrees course work. My hope is to influence the next generation of fire and emergency service personnel and share some lessons that I have learned along the way to help them become better leaders in the future.

What’s new in this edition that you think will interest readers, both instructors and students alike?

We’ve updated the book with new historical references and management principles that have emerged over the years since the first edition of the book. We’ve also included a significant amount of information around where Fire and EMS is going in the next 30 years. I played a role in the creation of a CPSE report that looked at 8 critical issues that’ll likely have significant influence on what Fire/EMS will look like in 30 years, and the book touches on these issues within the text. There have also been some updates to the content throughout the book, such as changing the “Community Disaster” chapter to “Community Risk Reduction & Resiliency” so it reflects the changes and growth in the profession in the years since the first edition was published.

What are the 2-3 biggest reasons why you believe a Fire Instructor/Fire Officer should use this book for training their firefighters in fire service administration over other options?

First, I believe the depth of the material that is included in the text is strong. Many texts are designed at a specific level in the fire and emergency services. The approach to this text was to design it so that any level of officer or manager, sworn or non-sworn, could use it to gain a more in-depth understanding of the profession, a good perspective on the evolution of leadership and
management theories, and an understanding of how their own leadership tendencies are formed and how they will impact their organization as they lead and manage in the future.

Secondly, this text addresses the emerging issues that are shaping what our profession will become in the future. Community Risk Reduction, The Eight Critical Issues identified in the 21st Century Fire and Emergency Services report, and others will create discussion on how future leaders need to begin to prepare themselves today to address these issues and be successful in the future.

Third, from an instructor’s viewpoint, I believe there is enough quality material contained in this text that an instructor can choose the depth of the material used and the direction they wish to take a class, based upon the student make up. I think this will provide a range of flexibility for the instructors to be able to construct a good class based upon the experience of the class, while still meeting course requirements.

Which chapter(s) in the book do you think will leave the biggest lasting impact on readers?

“Chapter 5: Leading and Managing in a Changing Environment” is a big one. Everyone experiences change in their organizations and own lives continually, and the rate of change has dramatically increased over the past two decades; it will not stop as we move forward thanks to technology and data that’ll continue to evolve and make change happen quicker. The ability to adapt to change and lead during times of rapid change will be critical factors to the sustainability of the firefighting and emergency services profession as we move further into the 21st century.

“Chapter 12: Shaping the Future” is focused on envisioning where Fire/EMS is going as a profession. Its focus is directed at encouraging young firefighters and company officers to shape their own future and plan where they would like to be in the next 10-15 years, with the hope that our training can equip them with the knowledge and tools to help meet not only their personal goals, but also those of their family and their organization. I think this chapter, in addition to Chapter 5, will resonate with readers in a lasting way.

Why is ethics such an important topic and skill for fire service personnel to learn about and apply in their job functions?

Ethics is the essence of who we are. If you look at recurring reports about the most/least trusted professions by the general public, fire and EMS personnel are consistently at or near the top of the “most trusted” list. We did not get there by accident; I have always emphasized to young firefighters that you will be in someone’s home at 3 AM attending to an emergency with no one there. Situations like this, which happen daily in our profession, are opportunities to take advantage of the situation unless you are an ethical person. This is just one example of where ethics come into play, but the fact of the matter is your ethics come into play each and every day in the decisions that each of us make. The ethics you bring to the job every day are one of the most critical elements of our profession, and unethical decisions reflect badly not just on you, but on the entirety of the fire and emergency services as well. Without proper ethics, the fire and emergency services profession would not be as trusted as it is today, and it is critical that we always make ethical decisions in our day-to-day lives to maintain that trust.

How did you learn about leadership, and do you wish your textbook was available when you started your fire service career?

I do wish I had a more in-depth book such as this when I started, but a book like this didn’t exist back then. The texts that were available at the time were fairly benign; they talked about the history of some management practices, but they never took you to the next step regarding how you progress up the organization, or how you develop a relationship with your team to be a great
leader. However, I ultimately learned the most about leadership through watching others and learning from my own mistakes as a leader. It’s truly a “learn on the job” type of situation. My hope is that this text will provide “nuggets” of information so students can avoid learning about leadership “the hard way” as much as possible.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book once they’re finished with it?

I hope they take away a base knowledge of how to lead, manage, and interact with the people within an organization. I also hope they come out of finishing this book with an expanded perspective of themselves and how their experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives are often what drive their leadership and managerial style. We can often have a perspective of how we lead and manage that doesn’t match up with how others view our leadership and management, so it’s critical to recognize areas where those viewpoints differ. Good leaders will be able to recognize the difference in perspectives and adjust their style to the team they’re leading to get the best out of that team. Leadership and management is a continual learning process throughout a firefighter’s career, and if one is willing to accept feedback and improve, he/she can become a better leader and manager over time.

For more information on Principles of Fire and Emergency Services Administration, Second Edition, please visit our website or contact your Public Safety Group representative today.

Topics: Fire

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