April 2022 Leadership Message From the ISFSI President: Seth Barker

In 2012 at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana I got invited to lunch on a Friday by a very good friend of mine. I happily followed thinking I was about to get bought another free lunch by my generous new best friend. The lunch proved to not be free but what I gained at that lunch launched my career exponentially forward. The event was my very first International Society of Fire Service Instructor’s Annual Membership Meeting. At that meeting I was introduced to instructor’s from around the country that had the similar passions, problems, and challenges that I was facing in my organization. I was networking with instructors from similar demographics and fire departments that I did not know existed. In a few short hours I was connected with people that wanted to share curriculums, lesson plans, and programs that I was starving to find. To say I was excited was an understatement. This was the exact network that I had been looking for years and did not know existed. To steal Brad French’s words: “it’s sharing thoughts and ideas with like-minded individuals that have the same passion about training”, or something like that. I have never forgot what it was like that day. The feeling of excitement and instant collaboration with colleagues that were far more skilled and knowledgeable than me.

I share this story because it is an important framework for my personal leadership philosophy. The essence of leadership for me is the ability to set the example for others to follow is paramount when leading from the front. It’s the process of taking the first step, no matter what the consequences, to show others your commitment to the mission. I truly believe that when others show you the way, it is our duty to show others so we can pay it forward. I am committed to this. Since 2012 it has been my mission to show instructors how much ISFSI has done for me and my career. To expose them to all the benefits of the organization and networking. I have encouraged my organization, my county, and my state to get involved as much as possible. To pay it forward by taking the first step just like it was done for me a few short years ago.

The challenge is, like so many that have done before me, is to inspire someone in your organization, your neighbor, someone in your class, or someone you meet at the next conference to show them what ISFSI is. It is the members. It is like minded individuals who share the passion of becoming better. I would have never thought that getting convinced there was a free lunch at FDIC so many years ago would have changed my life and introduced me to some of the best humans I have ever met was possible. And even now, humbly following in the footsteps of Chief Pete Van Dorpe. Thanks for all the support. It is not lost on me.

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