It's Still the Best Job in the World: Leading Through Tough Times

Chief Rick Lasky and Chief John Salka | Opening Symposium | 2021 Annual Conference

Session Description
Today more than, ever fire service leaders are facing tougher times. Reduction in funding resources, budget cuts, staffing cuts, unfunded mandates, personnel problems, that whole “culture” thing, and a long list of other obstacles and challenges, all of which have a direct impact on service delivery. On the other hand, nobody said that being the leader was going to be easy. Join Chief Lasky and Chief Salka as they discuss what is actually needed to face these tougher times and how to still enjoy the most incredible profession in the world!

Chief Rick Lasky
Chief Rick Lasky (ret.) a 40-plus year veteran of the fire service, served as chief of the Lewisville (TX) Fire Department for 12 years, prior to that as Fire Chief in Coeur d'Alene Idaho. Rick followed in his father’s footsteps beginning his career as a firefighter in the suburbs on the southwest side of Chicago and while in Illinois received the 1996 International Society of Fire Service Instructors “Innovator of the Year”award for his part in developing the “Saving Our Own” program. He served as the co-lead instructor for the H.O.T. Firefighter Survival program at FDIC for over 10 years, is a long-standing editorial advisory board member for Fire Engineering Magazine and also serves on the FDIC advisory board. Rick is the author of the best-selling books “Pride & Ownership: A Firefighter’s Love of the Job” and “Five Alarm Leadership: From the Firehouse to the Fireground” published by Fire Engineering Books & Videos and is the co-host for the podcast “The Command Post” heard on as well as the podcast “Old School” heard on i-Tunes. Rick has served as both a career and volunteer firefighter and in 2017 was the recipient of the Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award.

Chief John Salka
Battalion Chief John Salka (ret.) a 40-plus year veteran of the fire service,served with the FDNY for over 33 years, the last 15 years a battalion chief in the 18th Battalion in the Bronx. He is a NYS certified instructor and also lectures nationally. He is a seminar presenter and has presented at Firehouse Expo in Nashville, FDIC International in Indianapolis, the NY State Association of Fire Chiefs show and many other venues.  Chief Salka writes the monthly back page column "The Fire Scene" in Firehouse Magazine, has also written for Fire Engineering Magazine, Size-Up and the FDNY training magazine WNYF and serves on the Firehouse Expo advisory board. He served as the co-lead instructor for the H.O.T. Firefighter Safety and Survival program at FDIC for over ten years and is the co-host for the podcasts “The Command Post” heard on and “Old School” heard on iTunes. He is the author of the best-selling books “First In-Last Out: Leadership Lessons from the New York Fire Department” and “The Engine Company” published by Fire Engineering Books & Videos. He received the 2001 FDIC Training Achievement Award for his Get Out Alive firefighter survival training program and has served as a volunteer firefighter throughout his entire fire service career. Chief Salka was inducted into Firehouse Magazine’s Hall of Fame in 2019.