Fire Service Ethics by H. Scott-Walker



Fire Service Ethics is the first textbook developed specifically to help fire service personnel manage ethical dilemmas. No other profession places such a discretionary burden on its practitioners as the fire service. The military, law enforcement, medical profession, and legal profession all provide a robust set of ethical policies and guidelines to their members. Fire Service Ethics provides a foundation for creating ethical boundaries and will aid fire fighters and fire service leaders in dealing with complex issues.

Fire Service Ethics meets and exceeds the course outcomes and course objectives for the National Fire Academy FESHE Model Curriculum Bachelor’s (Non-Core) course entitled Fire Service Ethics (C0303). It is also well suited for fire officer and administration development programs.  

Fire Service Ethics is divided into four sections:

  • Section 1: Foundations
  • Section 2: Ethics on the Line
  • Section 3: Administrative Ethics
  • Section 4: Applied Ethics

Section 1: Foundations provides a concise overview of ethical systems and human behavior. Chapter 1 is recommended for all readers, as it addresses the important question of how ethics are relevant to the fire service. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 are grounded in an academic approach to ethics and are specifically intended to be used in college courses.

Section 2: Ethics on the Line address issues directly related to rank-and-file fire fighters and company officers. The section also deals with diversity; first as an abstract concept, and then as it applies specifically to the fire service. Section 2 is intended to serve dual purposes. First, it is designed to be included in an academic curriculum aimed at future fire fighters. Secondly, Section 2 — combined with Section 4 — encompasses the majority of material appropriate for inclusion in fire service training programs.

Section 3: Administrative Ethics explores the ethical issues faced by fire chiefs and senior administrative personnel. Included within the section are chapters on the building and maintenance of an ethical work culture, the ethical responsibilities associated with administration, and finally, ethics within the law. Section 3 — combined with Sections 1 and 4 — is especially appropriate for fire officer development programs and collegiate programs in fire administration.

Section 4: Applied Ethics explores the application of ethics at the personal and department level. This section includes chapters on making ethical decisions, mechanisms by which unethical behavior is addressed, and a review of current ethical issues affecting local fire departments. Section 4 is universal in its application and should be used in all collegiate programs, as well as in firefighter and fire officer training programs.

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