Class act: Anaheim Fire & Rescue grooms leaders in first-ever Fire Leadership Academy


The man on the video cited Scripture.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another,” said Anthony Kastros, quoting Proverbs 27:17.

Kastros, a battalion chief with Sacramento Metro Fire District, teaches leadership/team building and strategy/tactics to firefighters throughout the United States.

On a recent weekday morning, more than two-dozen Anaheim Fire & Rescue personnel from nearly all ranks watched a 25-minute video in which Kastros delivered an inspirational talk titled “This is Our Time.”

The video was part of a four-hour Fire Leadership Academy class — one of six monthly classes Anaheim Fire & Rescue is offering to groom agency leaders.

Battalion Chief Kevin Stewart, who along with Capt. Dave Barry helped launched this first-ever training for AF&R, said the academy is key to developing senior leadership at the agency.

Captain Kevin Stewart of Anaheim Fire & Rescue. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

Recently promoted Battalion Chief Kevin Stewart of Anaheim Fire & Rescue.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OC

“Leaders can exist at all levels, and that’s why this Fire Leadership Academy is important,” said Stewart, a 24-year fire service veteran who has been with AF&R for 11 years.

“As an agency, we need to remain committed to maintaining our standards of identifying and promoting the most talented men and women within our ranks,” Stewart said.

Only 20 seats were available in the first Fire Leadership Academy, and more than 20 people applied, Stewart said. Class organizers had to whittle the group down but plan to offer two Fire Leadership Academy’s next year, he said. The concept for this academy was one of the issues identified in the development of the department’s 5-year Strategic Plan and the department’s accreditation process.

The Fire Leadership Academy began in March and runs through August, with graduation for the 20 participants set, after a total of 24 hours of in-class instruction, for Sept. 2.

At the first session in March, Capt. Dan Mosman and Battalion Chief Rusty Coffelt led a discussion about personality and communication styles. The next class, led by Coffelt, addressed “above the line” accountability.

At the session in early May, held at the West Anaheim Community Center, retired Capt. Dave Gonzales and Tim Sandifer, a captain at Station 1, tackled the topic of supervision.

Books on academy participants’ desks included “Fatal Errors Managers Make and How to Avoid Them” and “Working With Difficult People.”

In June, the topic will be “Attitude: Bringing Calm to Chaos – Leading through Conflict and Change,” with presenters Stewart and Capt. Andy Ball.

July’s topic will we “Adult Development/Emotional Intelligence/Situational Leadership” (led by Stewart), followed in August by “Mentor Training-Servant Leadership-Leaving Your Legacy” (Capt. Marcel Medina is the main presenter).

In the video, Kastros echoed a belief shared by those at Anaheim Fire & Rescue: “The need for fire service leadership has never been greater. And your professionalism is determined by your attitude and behavior, not your paycheck.”