P. Michael (Mike) Freeman joins SG Collaborative Solutions™ as Principal Collaborator from the west coast. A graduate from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Mike learned the value of collaboration during his career in the fire service. This was true in both Dallas and Los Angeles, California.
While with the Dallas Fire Department, Mike expanded the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department and enhanced public safety through collaborative agreements with area fire departments, the Dallas Police Department and other City Departments. By using equipment and expertise of other departments a city-wide ordinance was adopted designating and enforcing safer thoroughfares for vehicles transporting hazardous materials through Dallas. Subsequently, a number of other major cities have adopted similar ordinances.
Recognizing the need for helicopter support during high-rise building fires, Mike used a collaborative outreach to agencies that had helicopters. The result was operating agreements with the Dallas Police Department and the Texas Air National Guard to use their rotary aircraft for high-rise rescue, reconnaissance, and logistical support in the event of a significant high rise building fire.
In 1989, with his new responsibilities as Fire Chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Mike’s appreciation of collaboration fit well with the challenges he now faced. Collaboration was a key success factor in providing fire protection and emergency medical services to more than 4 million people in 58 incorporated cities and the unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County, California. Collaboration with elected officials and the public served led to a voter-approved special tax that assured annual funding for essential safety services.
Success and systematic public safety services prevailed through effective collaboration and interaction with thirty other fire departments, more than forty local law enforcement agencies, the State of California and the federal government, particularly the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Forest Service. During his twenty-two year tenure as Fire Chief, Mike participated within and led many groups exploring ways and adopting methodologies that enhanced public safety and increased efficiencies. The massive, seasonal brush fires commonplace in California prompted Mike to seek and receive unanimous support of County Board of Supervisors for an international collaborative agreement with the Province of Quebec Canada for the annual use of the Super Scooper Aircraft for fire suppression of wild land fires in Los Angeles and southern California.
Through Mike’s vision, leadership and collaborative style with FEMA and the California Emergency Management Agency, the Los Angeles County Urban Search and Rescue Team was sent to Hawaii in 1992 during Hurricane Iniki. Soon after, the County Team was incorporated into what became a national system through which more than twenty such teams would be equipped, trained and prepared to respond to large scale disasters throughout the nation. Expanded collaboration with the United Nations led to the evaluation and certification of the Los Angeles County Team as an international rescue team. This was the precursor to the team being sent to Haiti in 2010 where successful rescues of earthquake victims were made.
Even before the September 11th terrorism attacks of 2001, Mike served on the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee. A major emphasis of his was the need for increased communication and collaboration between Federal, State and local governmental agencies and among the various disciplines of fire, law enforcement, the military and hospitals.
As the Chair of the IAFC Terrorism Committee post September 11th, Mike and his colleagues collaborated within the Fire Service, before Congress and with three different Presidential Administrations to have a national incident management system adopted, recognition of the fire service as an integral entity of homeland security, and fire service representation at national, state and local joint information centers where collaboration between first responders can prevent acts of terrorism and better prepare response capability if terrorism occurs.
During the post 9-11 era Mike also served on the Gilmore Commission. He actively collaborated with Commission members framing an assessment of the government’s role in past terrorism events and developed recommendations for improvement. This report was submitted to Congress and the White House with recommendations for collaborative efforts to enhance information and intelligence gathering, better sharing of such information at all levels of government, and improved national coordination focused on stronger terrorism prevention and response. Seeking a balance between excellent, compassionate emergency service and organizational justice, Mike spearheaded the department-wide “Wow Service” initiative. Through face-to-face meetings with over 3000 first responders Patient Care Guidelines were introduced, Wow Service experiences of responders were shared and a renewed passion for service grew around County Fire Department Core Values.
Mike’s on-going collaboration with labor leaders forged coalitions to gain public support for the fire service needs and funding. It also resulted in the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s gaining County Supervisor support to become one of ten fire departments partnering with the International Association of Fire Fighters and the International Association of Fire Chiefs in the Firefighter Wellness and Fitness Program. Through this collaboration, firefighter health and wellness have improved and potentially life-threatening conditions have been detected and corrected.
Most recently, Mike concluded an Operational Analysis of Pre-hospital Patient Care within Los Angeles County. His analysis indentified numerous areas where increased collaboration between various local agencies will lead to improved effectiveness and efficiency within that Emergency Medical System which delivers pre-hospital emergency care to more than 700 thousand patients each year.
Mike is a strong advocate for relentless collaboration. His forty-plus years of fire service experience and success are built upon collaboration, synergy and analytical leveraging of interdisciplinary and diverse expertise. Mike has been instrumental in saving lives, improving public safety, protecting our nation, and improving systems that support such goals through collaboration. Therefore, Mike Freeman is a welcome member of Collaborative Solutions.
Mike can be contacted directly via email at: