Two City of Bothell firefighters recently went above and beyond in completing the Seattle Fire Department’s newly launched Executive Leadership Academy (ELA). Over a 10-month period starting October 12, 2018, Deputy Chief Doug McDonald and Battalion Chief Dan Johnson participated in rigorous sessions designed to strengthen leadership skills culminating in their graduation June 14.
Fire Chief Bruce Kroon recommended the program to McDonald and Johnson. After submitting their applications both men were accepted.
“Chief Kroon is very supportive of training in general and encourages us to get outside of the fire station and train with industry or regional experts,” Johnson said. “This was a great example of his support for us to go out and help make ourselves better.”
Johnson has more than 32 years of experience serving the City of Bothell, while McDonald is relatively new to the city as Deputy Chief, he brings with him 27 years of service from the City of Renton. Even with nearly 60 years of combined experience as firefighters, both men were eager to continue their growth and learning.
“I felt confident going into that class, but I realized I had so much room to grow as a leader and this class has absolutely helped and inspired me to continue that growth,” McDonald said.
In collaboration with the University of Washington’s Michael G. Foster School of Business and the Center for Leadership and Strategic Thinking, the ELA provides fire-rescue professionals with educational and experiential leadership development aimed toward senior leaders across King County Fire Agencies.
The University of Washington describes the program as an opportunity for “accelerated leadership development” because:
“In today’s complex world, first responders and the staff that support their work, face fast-paced, high-impact situations where decisions range from operational issues to life and death outcomes.”
The Academy’s sessions included personal coaching and various lectures on leadership and interpersonal communication, sometimes lead by guests speakers like Benito Minicucci, the President and COO of Alaska Airlines, and even UW Football coach Chris Petersen.
McDonald says they are already implementing what they have learned by creating a “task book” for firefighters who are in new or acting positions, replacing their outdated task form.
“In order to serve in those capacities you have to go through a lot of different types of education and evaluation, but what [the task book] will do is prepare that person for that seat as an acting Lieutenant or Battalion Chief,” McDonald said.
In the future, the City of Bothell hopes to send at least one representative to attend the SFD ELA in the coming year.