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10 Ways To Run Your Business Using Firefighting Tactics 

People who open a new business typically come from the same industry they want to own. Often, new businesses will fail not because the owner is bad at what they do, but because the “business” end of it is something they’re not prepared for. Luckily, there’s plenty of help out there. There’s also plenty of these articles that you can read that will give you guidance. As far as this article goes, take it from me. A business owner and firefighter that brought the two worlds together to be successful. Here are 10 ways to run your business using firefighting tactics. For more tips like this, visit our blog QODA Fire Stories – applying firefighting tactics to business. 

  1. Courage 

Starting a business takes courage. The hope that your business will do well and the fear of the unknown will be at the forefront of your mind. It takes a lot to push through those fears and achieve your goals. 

As firefighters, when showing up to a fire, we all have that fear of the unknown. We don’t know what obstacles we will have inside a burning building but with our training and courage we push through and accomplish our mission. 

The way to do this is by having a goal, a plan to achieve that goal, and a plan to overcome obstacles, whatever they may be. 

  1. Humility 

Just because you had the guts to start your own business doesn’t mean that you’re on top of the world. Can you get there? Possibly. But when you have a growing business and you start to hire new employees and pull in new clients, it’s humility that will lead you to success. 

The best thing you can do as an officer of a fire department is listen to others. Take suggestions and implement strategies. Being an overbearing, “it’s my way or the highway” type of leader is a sure way to lose respect from your subordinates. 

As your business grows, take the time to learn from your customers and employees to better your company and earn the respect of everyone you come in contact with. It will have tremendous results for your business. 

  1. Leadership 

The two traits I pointed out above fall into this category. But it’s important to understand leadership as a whole. When you own a business, every project and interaction falls directly on you. It’s your job to make sure your company is in good standing. You will need to train, educate, and guide your employees to ensure that your business runs fluently.

As a leader in the fire service, the main goal is to mold your team of firefighters into leaders themselves so everyone is on the same page. It’s important to make sure everyone is trained to the same standard and make sure everyone understands the overall goals of the mission. 

You can do this by coming up with procedures and guidelines to have your customers trust your employees the same way they trust you. When an employee falls short or doesn’t understand what the goal is, you can lend them a helping hand and show them the right way. 

  1. Delegate 

This may be one of the more important tips. When running a company, your main focus is getting more business and more money. However, there’s a lot of moving parts to running a business that are impossible to handle between one person. 

The structure of a Fire Department goes like this: Chief – Assistant or Deputy Chiefs – Captains – Lieutenants – Assistant Lieutenants. This structure isn’t just to give somebody a title. It’s a structure put in place to ensure that certain things are taken care of at a fire scene that the top brass can’t handle by themselves. 

Similar structures are put in place in the business world like CEO’s, CFO’s, HR, Managers, etc. In a small business, you may not need this type of structure just yet but it’s imperative that you delegate certain tasks to your employees so you can focus on the grand scheme of things. 

  1. Trust 

This is a big factor with a growing business and it goes hand in hand with delegation. Having trust in your employees to do the right thing by your customers and trusting them to do their job up to company standards is key. If you can’t trust your employees, then you’ll waste time and energy trying to do everything yourself. 

In firefighting, this is super important. Going into potentially life threatening situations with a crew of firefighters that you trust is the only way to get a job done. This is why we train and debrief after every call. If you can’t trust your crew, then the situation you run into becomes a hell of a lot more dangerous. 

If you have a habit of double checking the work of your employees, you need to let it go immediately. Not only does it waste everyone’s time including your customers, it creates a hostile work environment which will cause you to lose employees. Make sure when hiring new employees they understand exactly how things should be done and be sure to kindly correct an issue if one pops up. With trust in your employees, it leads to a healthy workplace and a trustworthy company. 

  1. Compassion

Compassion is important. Not just with your customers but also your employees. It helps you understand your customers better and it helps you build good rapport with your employees. 

In the fire service, we use compassion with the people who call us for help. Understanding what their issue is and helping relieve them of stress. Sometimes we respond to emergencies that are mentally hard to handle and it’s up to us firefighters to help one another cope and be understanding. 

Being compassionate with your customers is great for continued success. They will feel that you understand them and every time they need your service, they will always give you a call. When it comes to your employees, compassion is imperative because sometimes people are having a rough day. When you talk with them and ask them how everything is going outside of work, it helps them get through the day without any interruption of work that needs to be done. 

  1. Organization 

Organization is another important factor in business. Without it, it just becomes messy chaos. When things are kept organized such as processes and materials, it keeps operations running flawlessly. 

Without organization in the fire department, we just simply wouldn’t be able to accomplish our missions the way we do. We know where every tool is on every truck, we know where every fire hydrant is in the area we cover, we know what we’re supposed to do in every situation we respond to. This isn’t just because we practice and go over these things, we also have them all written down. It’s easy to forget things when you have a lot of information thrown at you but when you keep things organized on paper, it makes it easier to reference. 

When you’re getting things organized in your business, be sure to write it down. Add it to your employee handbook or manual. You don’t want to be in a position where your employees are always asking you where something is or what they’re supposed to do. You can avoid that by making sure everyone has a copy of how things should be organized. 

  1. Guidance 

We touched on this earlier in the article. Guidance is often disregarded in business because employees are “supposed to know what they’re doing. That’s why I hired them.” Sure, it’s easy to feel that way because you’re paying someone to do a job. But this attitude will absolutely set you back. 

If we didn’t give our new firefighters guidance when they joined and continued guidance as they progressed in their careers, we would wind up with unsuccessful results and likely injuries or death. Yes, these people wanted to be firefighters and they know what the job entails, but there are going to be questions they need to have answered and the response should always be helpful not aggravated.

When you reach a point in your business where you need to hire new people, you might hire people with experience and also entry level people. It’s up to you as a leader to give these people guidance. By slamming your fist on the desk telling them they should know better and that’s why you pay them will be a sure way to lose employees, putting the workload back on you. Be kind to your people and help them understand the way you do things and why. By giving your employees guidance, you are also guiding your business in the right direction. 

  1. Tenacity 

Tenacity will leave you to express all the above points. Although we discussed a lot of ways for you to be open and kind, it still is YOUR business. You have goals and milestones that you want to hit and you created your business to be the vehicle that drives you to your personal goals. If you’re too lenient, you will lose grip of your company. You need to make sure that rules are enforced and to make sure you hold people accountable. 

In the fire service, tenacity is important especially as a leader. After we’ve used all the important traits that we mentioned above, if a subordinate is still not performing satisfactorily, it means that each of our missions will not be completed properly. We have multiple written and physical tests in place to make sure that we are eligible to be firefighters. After we’ve worked with a firefighter endlessly to guide them to success and understand their shortcomings, if they still can’t perform up to standards, then we either need to reassign them to a different position or let them go from the organization. 

Your business is your baby. You hire the right people to move your company forward and grow. However, occasionally some people you hire just won’t cut it. Before you decide on firing somebody, it’s important to make sure you’ve done everything possible to help them grow. If they don’t progress, then ultimately they hold you back. They hold the other employees back, the company back, and the overall goal you’re looking to achieve back. Letting an employee go is one of the harder things you can do but as long as you’ve done everything you could to help them and they just don’t get it, you have to have the tenacity to keep your business moving and cut out the dead weight. 

  1. Bold 

Be bold. Take risks. Take chances. But be cautious. To be bold is to grow your business and it’s absolutely important to not hold back. Opportunities come and go and you need to understand which ones you can take. If you’re not bold, your company will become static and you’ll never reach your goals. On the other end of that, you need to know when you can be bold. You need to be exactly sure where you’re at with your business and if it makes sense to take a leap. 

When we pull up to a fire scene, depending on the circumstances, we need to be bold with our actions. However, we need to assess our risk versus reward. If somebody is trapped in a house fire, we need to go the extra mile to rescue that person. At the same time, we need to understand the risks to ourselves. If we have a fire on the first floor of a house and there’s a

person trapped on the second floor, we will take the leap and get that person out. If the house is completely engulfed in flames and there’s a person inside, then unfortunately we have to understand that likely, their fate has already been determined and it would be impossible for us to have a successful rescue. 

When you’re ready to take the next step in the growth of your business, it’s imperative that you understand where your business is. Whether it be financially, logistical, or having enough employees. If you take a blind leap of faith, you can damage your progress by overreaching. Comb through all aspects of your company and determine whether an opportunity makes sense for you to take on. Be sure to assess your risk versus reward. 


You started your own business for a reason. Not just to be your own boss or reach your personal goals, but because you see a need in the marketplace that you believe you can do better or that you believe consumers need. It takes a lot to set out on your own and once you get there, it’s important to figure out the best way to grow. 

By using these traits and tactics, you’ll be able to grow your company and execute strategies to accomplish your mission of running a successful business. A lot of these suggestions may seem like no-brainers, but you need to understand when and how to implement them. These guidelines have been tried and tested and have led many businesses to success. 

My hope is that everything listed above will give you a sense of determination and help you run a successful organization which will lead you to live a happy life.

For more tips, visit our website – QODA Digital or reach out to us at info@qodadigital.com. The founders of our company are all firefighters and have experience in business and leadership. Our goal whether in the fire service or business is always centered around 1 thing. To help.