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Protecting the queen
Have you ever played chess?  According to Wikipedia, chess is a recreational and competitive game played between two players. Sometimes called Western chess or international chess to distinguish it from its predecessors and other chess variants, the current form of the game emerged in Southern Europe during the second half of the 15th century after evolving from similar, much older games of Indian and Persian origin. Today, chess is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.
The game is played on a square checkered chessboard with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. At the start, each player (one controlling the white pieces, the other controlling the black pieces) controls sixteen pieces: one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops, and eight pawns. The object of the game is to checkmate the opponent's king, whereby the king is under immediate attack (in "check") and there is no way to remove it from attack on the next move.

Think about your fire department. Dependent upon where you are in the food chain, a chess game is no different than  your fire department. A pawn, a back step firefighter. A rook or a knight, possibly a company officer. A knight, may be a chief officer. What does this have to do with your fire department?

If you've ever played chess, all efforts are set forth to protect the queen. Sometimes we sacrifice a pawn, rook or another piece to do so. In comparison to a fire department, we are not in the business of "sacrificing" but the analogy here is that like a chess game, every move we make is calculated.

Who are we protecting? In this case, not the Queen, but probably the King or the Fire Chief.  Duh? What is that all about?  Fire Chief is ultimately responsible for what happen in his domain. While he is not there for every call he is still  responsible for every thing that you do or don't do. Conversely, the chief needs to realize that without his defenders he will be checkmated.

So like a chess board, there are rules that we have follow. As a fire officer, you have certain expectations. Standard operating guidelines, general orders and other rules should provide a framework as to what and how we do business.  If we follow the rules, make prudent decision and put ourselves in a defendable position we are protecting the queen. Are you protecting your Queen?
About the Author: 
Chief Ronald Richards has over 30 years of fire service experience, both career and volunteer.  Chief Richards recently retired from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having served as a Fire Marshal and Fire and Safety Specialist. Prior to retiring Chief Richards was assigned to the office of Criticial Incident Management to assist with the implementation of NIMS and ICS. He currently serves as the Assistant Chief for Operations at Browndale Fire Company in Wayne County, PA. Richards graduated from the State University of New York with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Service Administration.  Richards is a PA State Fire Instructor and is the CEO of Task Force 1, Inc,  He is the founder of He can be reached at