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An Education, Training and Government podcast
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Best Episodes of Combustible

This isn’t really an outtake; it’s just a topic that wasn’t really large enough to devote an entire episode to. Bill, all by his lonesome, talks into the mic about the paradox of The Ship of Theseus and what that means for organizational identi
A listener asked us: “At what point is a wrong decision actually worse than no decision at all?” It’s a great starting point for a roving conversation that gets into whether results matter in that calculus. We also rehash our earlier debate on
The National Fire Academy is the home of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial; hallowed ground for any firefighter. To borrow a phrase from President Lincoln at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA (just 12 m
On June 6, 2021, Baldwin County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Smith gave his life while saving others who got caught in a rip current off the Alabama shore. Two of our podcast crew (Shane and Bill V.) worked for Bill Smith for years before Bill retired
As is the case with many of our episodes, we didn’t set out to make an episode about this. It actually was just a spirited conversation that we were having when we realized we should hit the record button. Is it better to be liked or respected
How do we as firefighters deal with luck? How honest are we about what part luck plays in our successes? More specifically, how much do we count on the same luck at our next fire? That’s where we start anyway, and we don’t exactly see eye to e
You make the case that you’re the best person for the next step up; only you don’t get chosen. What do you do then? When does a natural amount of disappointment turn into an unhealthy perception of being slighted? How hard is it to get behind
For this episode, we talk with “backstep” Firefighter Austin Kohler, who is only a few years into his career in the fire service. We ask him what he enjoys about the job, and what he didn’t expect about it. And about halfway through, we give Au
The book Leadership On The Line says a plan “is no more than today’s best guess.” So why do some in our profession get so attached to their plan that they can’t see when their plan has lost all chance to succeed? In this episode, we sit down w
What you’re about to hear wasn’t really ever intended to be an episode. It was a side conversation that took place during a recording session in December 2019 that we just happened to record. We sat on it for over a year, but we’ve decided it’s
We’re issuing all of our listeners a challenge in 2021. It’s only nine minutes long, but the effects could last for many years to come if you’re willing to take us up on it.
We’ll wager there isn’t a firefighter in the fire service who isn’t an advocate of training. But when you call that training “higher education” you start to get somewhat mixed reactions. Make higher education a prerequisite for some promotions,
How do you figure out if someone is good for your team? Good for the organization? Good for you as a leader? What does it mean to build a diverse team, and how can different skillsets, talents, and perspectives be beneficial? Can they fill in t
When you don’t agree with a decision made above you, is it wrong to let people know you don’t agree? For this Ten Rounds we discuss whether telling those you are supervising that you don’t agree with something undermines authority or whether it
No matter how hard we try to avoid them, screw-ups are going to happen. When they happen, we shouldn’t avoid acknowledging them. Don’t wear them like a badge of honor, but own them nonetheless. You’ve already paid the price for the lesson; you
At the end of our last recording session we only had twenty minutes left to record, which isn’t enough for a full episode. So Hatch suggested we do Ten Rounds. It’s simple: any one of us can talk for two minutes uninterrupted on any topic we wa
We all should be doing a size-up as we approach any scene. And if you’ve got other units responding with you, someone is ultimately going to be required to give some of what you’re seeing and thinking over the radio. So how important is the siz
In this episode, we sit down with Attorney Lance LoRusso to discuss the dangers of something almost all firefighters engage in: social media. And you can’t talk about social media without talking about the legal ramifications of firefighters ta
There is a central concept that runs throughout Pete Blaber’s The Mission, The Men, and Me: That you should always listen to the boots on the ground. We really like that idea. Colin Powell said something similar when he described his “bias was
This episode is the second part to our conversation with Todd Edwards. We pick back up where we left off last time: with Todd’s view on how to approach the problem of underperforming firefighters in your station. Granted, if you’re good at reha
The illusion of a perfect fire is a tempting one, but it’s also just that: an illusion. In the first part of our discussion with Todd Edwards, we talk about the “perfect fire,” the nature of evaluating our performance at every fire, and Todd’s
Payton Owens came to the fire service, left, grew an impressive beard, and then came back again. When he left the department, he had some pretty serious stuff going on in his personal life, but he freely admits: he had become pretty disgruntled
A short side discussion from one of our recording sessions about what’s at the nature of success when operating on the fireground: adaptability.
This quick discussion was born out of an article called “Command NOT Control” by Eric Saylors. Not all of us had read the article, and Shane and Pabel (who did read it) aren’t sure if they agree with it or not. Just when the discussion might be
When we sat down to talk to Chief Chris Wessels, we had a specific topic in mind that we thought we would cover. But what happens so often with the best conversations happened here; the conversation itself led us to places we didn’t think we we
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