Author Archives: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail,

Business Intelligence Software That Helps Fire Departments to “Crunch” NFIRS Data

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer A few months ago, I wrote an article for this space entitled Data Matters for Fire Departments across the U.S. where I discussed the importance of data collection for the present and future success of the fire service, and particularly data transmission to the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS). Of equal importance was ...

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Cases of Fire Departments Behaving Badly

How can any person feel that they’re doing a good job as a fire chief when their officers and firefighters are not being guided by policies—the governing documents for any organization—that are up-to-date, congruent with all federal and state laws, rules, and regulation, and focused on “doing the right thing”?

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Memo to iWomen: Stay Home!

Boycott of Fairfax County

And where's the "call out" for all the male firefighters in Fairfax County? Where have they been for the past two years--since Nicole Mittendorf's suicide? Why are they not standing up for their "sister" firefighters and demanding the fire chief's firing?

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Continuing Leadership Problems in a Fire Department

By: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer This is the title of a recent post from my fire service colleague and attorney, Curt Varone, on his blog, Fire Law: Fairfax County’s Highest Female Officer Resigns From Women’s Program Officer Position WOW! There’s no other word that even comes close to describing my thoughts after reading Chief Stanley’s letter of resignation. After ...

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Rape in the fire service: A story revisited

Sexual assaults and rape being perpetrated on our sister firefighters by their colleagues–and in many cases their leaders–isn’t a women’s issue that they can solve.  It’s a failure of fire department leadership and that means it’s up to the men who occupy the majority of leadership positions in the fire service to eradicate this blight from our profession. 

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Role Model Qualities for an Effective Company Officer

In today’s blog, I’m going to discuss what I believe is the fundamental role for any company officer: Being an effective role model. Every single day. Why do I believe that? My experience has shown me that a company officer’s success in any of their other roles, e.g., supervisor, teacher, mentor, fire ground commander, is predicated on the level of respect and confidence that they’ve developed with their firefighters.

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Data Matters for Fire Departments Across the U.S.

One of my former mentors, Deputy Chief (Ret.) Jim Graham of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department, was a huge proponent for the use of information whether it was on a fire ground operation or developing a new training program or addressing budget reductions. One of his favorite sayings—one that stays with me to this day—was: “We must constantly strive to become better at data-driven decision making, instead of following the ‘I think, I feel, or I believe model.” But he usually followed that up with a caveat that we should also strive to ensure that we had good information, not just any information.

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