Close this search box.

Leadership means… Leading!

On November 24, 2011 I wrote an article here on Situational Awareness Matters titled Defensive Decision Making. In that article I made the following statement:

Coincidentally, one of the most sickening signs of low self-esteem, over inflated ego and over confidence are displayed on the “NO FEAR” decals some firefighters wear on their helmets. Personally, if I wore a decal on my helmet that portrayed how I felt when I sent firefighters into structure fires it would read “SCARED TO DEATH!” [tweet this]

My Twitter feed, Facebook, LinkedIn and email lit up like a Christmas tree (maybe it was a seasonal thing, who knows). Regardless, I was absolutely humbled by the amount of positive comments (and, believe it or not, NO negative comments) from my article. I found that encouraging. But one piece of feedback I received, via Facebook, blew me away!

I received a very nice comment from a soon-to-be promoted Battalion Chief that read:

“Thank you for this statement. As an incident commander I feel this way every time my crews are on an interior attack. I am someone who holds you in high regard and for you to make this statement lets me know that I am not alone. Thank You!”

But it doesn’t end there. I sent a message back, thanking him for his kind words and his support of my mission.

Then, I received another message from him. Only this one contained a picture.

Leadership means… Leading!

Yes! Joe Lyons, soon-to-be (in Nov 2011) Battalion Chief for the Westfield (IN) Fire Department, put his ego and self-esteem on public display with a statement of raw honesty. This is especially impressive coming from a company officer on the verge of being promoted to a position with direct command responsibility.

To lead is to do the right things for the right reasons without regard for judgment by others. [tweet this]

Joe Lyons is a leader and, by my account, a hero for making a bold and honest statement that, I hope and pray, represents how EVERY incident commander feels while making the decision to send firefighters into high-risk, high-consequence environments.

Leadership means… Leading! [tweet this]

Thank you Joe, and all the other company and command officers out there who put the safety of personnel above ego.

Keep your feedback coming! I absolutely love getting messages of support for my mission. It gives me so much energy. Thank you!

I often say it feels like I’m trying to push a heavy rock up a steep hill with my message and support from friends makes the task much easier… or at least more enjoyable.

I promise I will personally respond to EVERY message I receive.


The mission of Situational Awareness Matters is simple: Help first responders see the bad things coming… in time to change the outcome.

Safety begins with SA! 


Share your comments on this article in the “Leave a Reply” box below. If you want to send me incident pictures, videos or have an idea you’d like me to research and write about, contact me. I really enjoy getting feedback and supportive messages from fellow first responders. It gives me the energy to work harder for you.




Phone: 612-548-4424

Facebook Fan Page:

Twitter: @SAMatters

LinkedIn: Rich Gasaway

YouTube: SAMattersTV

iTunes: SAMatters Radio


2 thoughts on “Leadership means… Leading!”

  1. Rich,

    I attended the 2011 FDIC in Indiana and took your seminar regarding situational awareness and must say that it was truly inspiring to listen to you lecture. I learned a tremendous amount of information from participating in your class and want to say keep up the good work!

    It’s Chiefs like you that are making this profession a safer one by passing on valuable information to other firefighters and officers. I have 20 years thus far in the fire service (20 serving as a volunteer and 8 years career). I’ve been in an officer’s position for 15 of those 20 years (15 years as a volunteer officer and 7 years as a career Captain) and must say that I have probably learned more this year than previous relating to becoming a better officer.

    Quite often I visit your website along with several others and contribute my additional knowledge to Fire Chiefs such as yourself. So keep up the great work and know that your input is well respected and appreciated in the fire service!

    Donnie Lanham
    Volunteer Assistant Chief
    Career Captain

    1. Donnie,

      Thank you SO much for the very kind comments. I have to tell you, when I get a message like that, it energizes me SO much. It makes me want to work even harder to improve firefighter safety. Thank you for visiting my site and for passing the information along to others. I am a big believer in “paying it forward”… taking what you learn and sharing it with others.

      Congratulations on your success in 2011. Wishing you a safe and even more successful 2012!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.