12 Questions for Joe Lowe

Joe Lowe at gallery

Today we have the seventh article of our series in which we ask current and retired leaders in the wildland fire service to answer 12 questions.

We appreciate everyone who is cooperating with this project. Some of their responses may add to the knowledge base of our new firefighters coming up through the ranks. If you have a suggestion of someone who would be a good candidate for these questions, drop us a line through our Contact Us page. And their contact information would be appreciated.

Below we hear from Joe Lowe, a former Director of the South Dakota Division of Wildfire Suppression and Type 2 Incident Commander of Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C. Currently Joe is the owner of the Reflections of South Dakota Gallery in Rapid City.

Joe answered the first generation of the 12 Questions, which have since been modified.


Joe Lowe at gallery
Joe Lowe

When you think of an excellent leader in the fire service, who comes to mind first?
My departed teacher and friend Paul Gleason

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone before their first assignment as an Incident Commander?
This is advice I would give my ICT2 trainee. They are as follows and in no particular order:

  • Be committed to excellence
  • Have integrity
  • Know your job
  • Be politically astute
  • Know ICS/NIMs
  • Be loyal to your team and support the members of the team
  • Treat each team member with mutual respect
  • Be adaptable and flexible
  • Do not be afraid to admit your mistakes
  • Have a sense of humor
  • Be able to negotiate
  • Know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses
  • Be technically proficient at your job.

If someone is planning a prescribed fire, what is one thing that you hope they will pay particular attention to?
The weather factors present before you start the burn. Do they match your forecast?

What was the first very large fire you were on?
The Indian Fire in November of 1980. It burned 28,000 acres in Orange County and the Cleveland National Forest. I was a new firefighter and assigned to Type 3 engine,

What color should fire trucks be?
Why red of course

What was the first job you ever had?
A paper route.

What was the first job you had within the fire service?
A volunteer firefighter for CDF.

What cell phone do you have for personal use?
An Android 4G

What kind of computer do you have at home?

What gadgets can’t you live without?

What was the first vehicle that you bought?
A 1953 Ford Station Wagon

What was your most memorable vacation?
My 1st trip to Maui with my wife after we got married.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.