Three Questions With…Sierra Madre Fire Chief Brent Bartlett

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A man in uniform sitting at his desk

Sierra Madre Fire Chief Brent Bartlett (Photo – Tevin Voong)

Brent Bartlett, the new Fire Chief of the City of Sierra Madre, answers three questions for

By Jean Sudbury

During the year 2020, the COVID virus has become a crisis, and in the midst of that was the Bobcat Fire.  In emergency situations, this is a challenge. Through teamwork and efficiency, the Sierra Madre Fire Department shines as a valuable asset to the community.

1- What initiatives do you plan “to move yourself and the department forward?”

The plan is to develop a customer-centric culture that focuses both internally and externally. This will be driven by our behaviors, attitudes, values, and beliefs. We must focus on delivering quality service, to one another, the other departments we interact with, and to the community. The men and women of this department possess these characteristics necessary to form the roadmap for our next 100 years of service.

2- From your experience of the recent Bobcat Fire and the challenges of the COVID epidemic, what insights will you apply to your new position as Chief?

My role as a leader not only involves the care and concern of my firefighters, but the people that we serve. Through these two events, understanding the importance of communication was clear.  Good communication means listening.  We listen to understand first, not to respond.  These times have been incredibly challenging for everyone. Hearing people’s concerns during these stressful times has placed an emphasis on kindness, patience, and empathy.  Even with all the moving pieces, the stretch on resources, and large amounts of information that need to be processed and acted upon, we cannot forget to take care of people.

3- How has your experience as a resident of Sierra Madre prepared you for the responsibility as Fire Chief?

Sierra Madre is a very close-knit community.  The motto is “neighbor helping neighbor”. As a resident, this motto has been instrumental in instilling the love my family and I have for this town.  We have created lifelong friendships because of this. It is that same approach that I encourage in our department. We place a high value on customer service, going the extra mile in our care for others. It is important to cultivate a department that strives to be a neighbor and connect with one another.

a man behind teh wheels of a truck

Chief Bartlett on duty (Photo – Tevin Voong)

Bonus Questions

  • What key learnings from you mentors will help you move the department forward?

From my days of playing sports, to the military, to the fire service, one of the most important lessons my mentors have instilled in me is teamwork.  It isn’t about me, but the collective efforts of a team that determine success.  My mentors have taught me in all quests for achievement, it’s people first.  You need to care about your people, take an interest in their lives, create trust and build relationships.  In the military and in the fire service you place your lives in the hands of your team.  You better have trust amongst yourselves.  Bring everyone home safely.  Be a good role model.  Recognize potential and foster it.  Remain calm in the most pressing of situations.  Know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.  Truly, the lessons are many.

  • From your life in the military, the fire service, and education, what advice would you give a young person, particularly of diverse background, who aspires to a career in the fire service?

A career in the fire service is one of the most rewarding professions a young person could aspire to have, particularly a young person of diverse background. The more diverse your department is, the better you can represent your community.  It takes a multitude of qualities to become a firefighter.  Beyond the physical fitness, one needs to have compassion, empathy, critical thinking skills, and a wide berth of experience from different cultures adds to the richness of a department.  The community benefits greatly.  Take all these into consideration as you pursue your career.  Strive to be your best.  Learn everything you can.  Find a mentor.  The resources and relationships will be a helpful guide.

> Read more about Chief Bartlett.

Jean Sudbury
2 comments to “Three Questions With…Sierra Madre Fire Chief Brent Bartlett”
  1. Sierra Madre is so blessed to have this amazing man as our Chief! Brent Bartlett
    has led the men & women of SMFD through one of the most difficult eras and will bring us forward into the next century of the SMFD.
    This is a great article, thank you Jean Sudbury. You captured the great essence of Chief Bartlett and the department, as well as his value in family and community.
    “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” will be an important motto not just for Sierra Madre but everywhere. Great leaders can help nullify the detrimental issues we face in our World and move towards a better environment for our town and globally!

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