June 2023 Leadership Message From the ISFSI President: Seth Barker


After recently being on the road for the past 5 weeks I started getting very anxious about being home. I wanted to make a positive impact on my family, my fire department, and my community in a way that FDIC, the National Fire Academy, United States Fire Administration, and Congressional Fire Service Institute made on me. How would I unpack all of these great things that are inspiring to have an effective outcome for my community. After many conversations with my mentors, I left wanting to pay it forward like so many have done for me. When talking about outcomes, we often lean towards influencing; life, health, wealth, security, and quality of life. The quality of life can further be divided into categories such as: environment, employment, education, freedom, and family. This might be a deep dive when considering all the outcomes that need to be considered, especially when trying to influence a community.

While trying to provide guidance in my organization, I remind my members of my younger self who tried to change everything. I wanted control over all decisions, I wanted it my way, and I wanted to control the outcome. This is not a rational way of doing business. Now I try to coach my teammates on focusing on what is most important to them. Trying to identify the outcome that means the most while recognizing what that end state looks like. The path there becomes much clearer with less noise to distract you on getting there. A good example of this is the construction of our training tower. Once the value of it to our organization is shown, everything else just becomes noise. The outcome outweighs everything.

When I resurfaced in my community, I was overwhelmed to put it mildly. I could not fathom how far I was behind on everything. I wanted so badly to hit the ground running with my “reset” that I received from attending all the amazing fire service events and trainings. I was gridlocked. I was stuck. I did not even know where to start. I was getting pulled in a thousand directions and the noise was deafening. I had to focus on the outcome. What was the most important. Family was obviously at the top of the list. Ensuring my family was supported emotionally, physically, and mentally. That was not easy but most certainly the most attainable.

I started thinking about outcomes in my community. What could I possible do that I was not already doing that could have a dramatic effect. I believe the largest influencer in our fire department is the leadership of our board. They allow us to be supported on all levels to make sound decisions without getting in the way. So, I decided to pay it forward in our community and run for the School District Board. The response was overwhelming. Being part of the community on a totally different level and contribute in a very different way. The outcome was influencing the community in a positive way. The path became very clear.

I would like to challenge ISFSI’s membership to think about a positive outcome that they would like to see in their organization, community, or within our membership that they would like to accomplish. Whether it’s improving your department with evidence-based training, or volunteering in your community, or offering write an article for ISFSI’s newsletter. Think about what has created a positive outcome for you and pay it forward. This membership is the strongest it has ever been because the members care about the outcomes.

Stay Safe and Healthy!
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