Throughout my career, I have been exposed to the acronym LDRSHIP over and over. This is the acronym for the seven core Army values.
These seven values were plastered on the walls of every Army firehouse I have ever served in, and I am forever grateful for that. Seeing these value each shift helped me understand their application to being a good firefighter or fire officer.
If we analyze what the core values of the Army are, we will see that they apply to firefighters and fire officers extremely well. If you take these values and put them to practice in your career and department, I can assure you that you are on the path to becoming a phenomenal fire service leader.
The Seven Values
Loyalty: The Army defines this as bearing true faith and allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, the Army, your unit, and other soldiers. Likewise, as firefighters, we bear true faith and allegiance to our country, our community, our department, and our fellow firefighters. Loyalty is the foundation upon which a fire service leader is built.
Duty: The Army makes this one really simple. Fulfill your duties. As firefighters, we have a sense of duty and a desire to complete any task assigned to us, no matter the scale. We must always remember this desire and push ourselves to complete our duties to the best of our ability. Anything less is unacceptable.
Respect: Treat people as they should be treated. It sounds simple, right? However, this one may be tough for firefighters or fire officers. Every single person we interact with deserves our respect. Everyone from the frequent flier who always calls for an ambulance at 2 a.m. to the new rookie in the house.
Never pass judgment and respect everyone. I can assure you that you will be a stronger leader if you do, and your department will carry the respect of its customers.
Selfless Service: The Army says selfless service is putting the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own. In the fire service, we have this one down. Simply signing up to be a firefighter is a selfless act.
However, as you progress into being a fire service leader, you must always place your men and women ahead of yourself. It is our responsibility as leaders to foster their growth and protect them. We should never forget this.
Honor: The Army and the fire service view honor very similarly. Both consider honor is living up to our values. We must always live up to the values of the profession. When we do this, we not only demonstrate an honorable character, but we also honor those who have paved the way for us. Having honor allows us to remember those who came before us and builds a solid organization for those who will come after us.
Integrity: Do what’s right, legally and morally. Just like soldiers, firefighters are expected to do the right thing even when no one is looking. Without integrity, our peers, our leaders, and our community will not trust us. Firefighters are held to a higher standard, and we must maintain our integrity at all times.
Don’t be that one firefighter who is acting foolish off duty while wearing a fire department t-shirt. People will remember your lack of integrity.
Personal Courage: The Army says you must face fear, danger, or adversity (physical or moral). Firefighters must demonstrate this quality on a daily basis. We go into burning buildings for a living. However, we rarely think about the moral adversity we may face as firefighters or leaders.
To excel we must have the courage to continue on a path that may not be the popular one. Have the courage to make things better in your department, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do.
How Can You Apply These?
I was taught these values in Basic Combat Training, and I immediately knew that I would apply them both as a soldier and a firefighter.
This is the standard to which I hold myself and my department. If you have not established values in your crew or department, I would encourage you to consider these. Regardless of what values you decide on, exemplify them at all times and hold your crew to the same standards.