Chief John Hawkins honored at SoCal Foresters & Fire Wardens conference

After his scheduled presentation he was surprised with gifts and was recognized for his service

Chief John Hawkins retired honored
Chief John Hawkins was honored by the Southern California Foresters and Fire Wardens for his 55-year firefighting career. Photo by Joy Collura.

Former CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Chief John Hawkins was honored last month at the annual meeting of the Wildland Fire Training and Safety Conference put on by the Southern California Foresters and Fire Wardens at Yukaipa, California. Chief Hawkins retired on Christmas Day in 2018 after his 55-year fire career. As Fire Chief he directed a cooperative regional fire protection district with 97 fire stations, three fire camps, one air attack base, and 1,600 personnel, responding to over 160,000 emergencies over a large unincorporated county area and 21 partner cities. He also supervised the CAL FIRE resources that provide services under contract to Riverside County, the 4th-most populous county in California and the 11th-most populous in the United States.

After his presentation at the conference about the key elements of leadership and the importance of mentoring successors he was surprised to be honored and presented with gifts, including a chromed double-bit axe.

Some of the topics from Chief Hawkins’ talk explored day to day human factors that firefighters are exposed to, such as stress, PTSD, suicide, and their supervisors, but most were about the characteristics of a good leader of firefighters. Used with his permission, below are 10 images that I selected from his 114-slide presentation at the conference:

Chief John Hawkins presentation

Chief John Hawkins presentation

Chief John Hawkins presentation
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Wildland fire leadership campaign

Wildland Fire LeadershipThe Wildland Fire Leadership Development Program is launching a new campaign, Leading with Courage, to run during the first 11 months of 2013.

Here is the way it is described on their web site:

“Campaign Intent

Task: Provide an opportunity for wildland fire service personnel to focus leadership development activities on a nationally-sponsored, centrally-themed leadership campaign and recognize local leadership participation efforts.


  • To foster a cohesive effort to promote leadership across the wildland fire service.
  • To provide a template that can be used to encourage leadership development at the local level.
  • To provide a mechanism to collect leadership best practices and share throughout the wildland fire service.

End State: Creation of a wildland fire service culture that willingly shares leadership best practices in order to maintain superior service-wide leadership’