Leadership Under Fire

The Leadership Under Fire Humanizing the Narrative Podcast provides a platform to prepare performance leaders to navigate the moral, mental, emotional, intellectual and physical rigors in high-risk and ultra-competitive settings by developing strength of mind, body, character and critical thought.

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7 hours ago

In this conversation, Deondre Smalls and Tom Flores of the Camden City (NJ) Fire Department’s Squad Co. 7 discuss balancing the job with life away from the firehouse to optimize both professional and personal performance. Deondre is a second-generation member of the Camden City Fire Department. He earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism/media studies from Rutgers University and has worked as a research assistant at NFL Films since 2020. Tom is a first generation American. Since 2022, he has worked with nonprofits mentoring fatherless and undocumented youths.
This conversation was recently delivered during an online LUF Emerging Leaders Development course. The course is uniquely built around the perspectives of emerging leaders with 5-10 years of job time from several different departments. The course equips and encourages emerging leaders to embrace, create, and recognize opportunities to lead and exercise initiative in a fashion consistent with relative experience and culture.

Thursday May 16, 2024

In this conversation, Jim McNamara and Jason Brezler discuss the genesis of Leadership Under Fire. Jim and Jason explore how Jason’s experiences as a combat leader in Iraq and Afghanistan shaped his leadership philosophy and how he went about building the LUF Team.

Thursday May 02, 2024

Tom Miller is a FDNY firefighter assigned to Ladder Co. 26 in Harlem. He is a former US Marine and served as a forward observer in combat units in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Tom attended Columbia University on the GI Bill and obtained a bachelor's degree in Astrophysics. He serves as a human performance analytics program designer and analyst for Leadership Under Fire.

Thursday Apr 18, 2024

Since our formal inception more than a decade ago, the Leadership Under Fire Team has championed professional reading. We have fervently advocated for increased professional reading in the American Fire Service and similar high risk industries that do not enjoy the robust professional development curricula that the US military provides. The LUF team believes that a careful examination of history's most accomplished mission oriented leaders reveals that their success was strongly correlated to a scholarly appreciation of literature and professional reading. We have been humbled to watch many in the LUF network devour books that on the surface have nothing to do with the fire service, and yet everything to do with the fire ground.
The past several years has challenged each of us as well as our families, institutions, communities, and nation in a myriad of ways: military conflict in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a global pandemic, civil and political unrest at home. The proliferation of digital communications platforms and the emergence of disruptive technology have only exacerbated the intellectual, emotional, and moral demands on those of us leading in mission oriented and lethal vocations. Leaders with four years of service and leaders with four decades of service alike have found today's operational environment to be disorienting and uncomfortable. The unfortunate news is that there is no evidence that the pace and acceleration of technological and social change and instability is likely to slow anytime soon. The favorable news is that the predicament we find ourselves in might not be as novel as we think. If we look at history through a wider lens, professional reading has never been as critical as it is now.
Rigorous reading affords each of us valuable insight that provides principled leaders encouragement, and even a roadmap for navigating institutional and social technical changes. In 2022, LUF launched our inaugural book club. The online book club has been a conduit to meaningful discourse, reflection, and critical thought. It was only fitting that LU F's Senior Mentor Jim Roussell served as the initial LUF book club leader given his infectious commitment to professional reading over the course of his remarkable career in the United States Marine Corps and Chicago Police Department. In this podcast episode, Jim unpacks Marcus Aurelius's meditations and provides valuable insight into how leaders use professional reading to cultivate leadership, critical thinking, and complex problem solving skills.

Thursday Apr 04, 2024

Our guest in this episode of the Leadership Under Fire Humanizing the Narrative Podcast is Lieutenant Thomas Daly. Lt Daly joined the ranks of the FDNY in 1997. As a firefighter, Tommy served in Ladder Co. 176 and Rescue Co. 2. As a Lieutenant, he was assigned to Ladder Co. 111 and Rescue Co. 2. Tom retired from the Department in 2023 with 27 years of service. LUF Founder Jason Brezler hosts.

Thursday Mar 21, 2024

This episode features two women who currently serve in the Milwaukee Fire Department—Lieutenants Kendria Donaldson and Jessica Ziems. Both started their firefighting journeys as Fire Cadets in 2013. The two-year program hires individuals between the ages of 17-19 and starts them on their firefighting career. They completed recruit class in 2015 and have been honing their firefighting and leadership skills in the Milwaukee FD since that time. Both attended the Leadership Under Fire Leadership Development Course at The Farm in the Fall of 2023 and offered a great deal of insight to the cohort. 

Thursday Mar 07, 2024

The original broadcast date of this episode was March 25, 2021. On March 25, 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned, tragically killing 146 workers. It is remembered as one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history. The tragedy brought widespread attention to the dangerous sweatshop conditions of factories, spurred the creation of the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Prevention, and led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that better protected the safety of workers. But what has been curiously absent or understated from the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire narrative is a closer examination of firefighting efforts that took place that day, lessons regarding rescue of people who were trapped, a more detailed understanding of the leadership demonstrated in the wake of the event and the legacy of the fire today—just to name a few topics. In this episode of the Leadership Under Fire Optimizing Human Performance Podcast, we hope to contribute more broadly to the historical narrative of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. The depth of this conversation is made possible by the extensive research efforts employed by our guest in this episode, FDNY Lieutenant Matt Connor. 

Thursday Feb 22, 2024

In this episode, LUF Founder Jason Brezler is joined by LtCol Pete “Salvo” Benning, USMC. Benning was born and raised in New Guinea where his parents were missionaries. After graduating from high school, he moved back to the US where he spent a couple of years as a ski instructor and doing odd jobs. He applied to the US Naval Academy and was initially rejected but was afforded the opportunity to attend the Naval Academy Prep School in Newport, RI. Benning would eventually make his way to Annapolis as a Midshipman and was commissioned as a Marine officer upon his Naval Academy graduation in 2004. In the two decades since, Benning has actively led and served in an array of capacities as a combat aviator, an instructor at the Naval Academy, in business development in the private sector, at home as a husband and active father, and in his church and community.

Thursday Feb 08, 2024

This episode featured FDNY Battalion Chief Jeff Facinelli who is currently assigned to Battalion 18 in the Bronx. Jeff joined the ranks of the FDNY in 2001 and previously served in Ladder Co. 40 in Harlem as a firefighter, Engine Co. 67 in Washington Heights as a lieutenant and Engine Co. 23 in midtown Manhattan as a Captain. Jeff is a program manager for the FDNY’s Mental Performance Initiative as well as the FDNY Command Course for battalion chiefs. He holds a bachelor’s degree in fire science from the University of New Haven.

Thursday Jan 25, 2024

The recording you will hear in this episode of theLeadership Under Fire Humanizing the Narrative Podcast features LUFtactical performance advisor Captain Mike Guli. It was delivered as anonline presentation to leaders enrolled in an online LUF CoachingFirefighters and Fire Officers to Perform Optimally at Fires andEmergencies course. The course equips leaders and tactical trainerswith tools, concepts, and coaching strategies that optimize individualand until level performance under pressure.Capt Guli joined the ranks of the FDNY in 2005 and was a firefighterin Engine Co. 290 in East New York Brooklyn. He served as a Lieutenantin Engine Co. 55 in Lower Manhattan and presently serves as thecompany commander of Tower Ladder 86. Mike serves as a lead tacticalcoach for the FDNY’s MPI program. He has both a bachelor’s degree andmaster’s degree in human nutrition.

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