Effective Leadership in the US Fire Service Requires Training Programs Geared Toward Ongoing Leader Development for All Personnel
Graduate School of Business
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Leadership, effective leadership, organizational culture, Five practices of exemplary leadership, fire service, business
Business | Leadership Studies
Wheeler, Shelley Marie, "Effective Leadership in the US Fire Service Requires Training Programs Geared Toward Ongoing Leader Development for All Personnel" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3373.
The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the experiences of 50 personnel from four Metro Washington D.C. area fire departments, 23 firefighters and 27 officers, at varying experience levels and ranks to determine if there was leadership training throughout a firefighter’s career that enhanced their leader development, improving teamwork needed to achieve operational objectives. Based on the analysis of the data retrieved from the participants, the proposed research problem does exist within all four departments: leadership training may not be provided at varying levels of a firefighter's career within Metro Washington D.C. area fire departments which could hinder leadership development and ultimately affect teamwork required for carrying out operational objectives. This study used the experiences of career firefighters and officers not only to prove that the problem exists but also to explain why it exists and offer solutions to address the problem based on the experiences of the participants and scholarly data outlined in the literature review. This study yielded several key findings. First, there is little to no formalized leadership training across all four departments. Second, many participants asserted that their success level as a leader was dependent upon informal training/development, which relies on how engaged and supportive their officers are. Third, nearly every participant asserted teamwork is crucial and is involved in every aspect of their fire service career, from responding to calls to everyday fire station life. Fourth, many participants found Kouzes and Posner’s 5 practices of exemplary leadership relatable to effective fire service leadership and many of the emerging themes were associated with the 5 practices of exemplary leadership, which also aligns with servant, transformational, and situational styles of leadership.