Director Spotlight – Jim Harmes


Jim Harmes, Director of Recruiting

Director, Fire Chief Recruiters; Fire Chief of Grand Blanc Fire Department (Retired); Public Speaker and Attractive Nuisance Expert





What did you do prior to becoming the Director of Recruiting?

Prior to recruiting, I spent nearly 30 years as a Fire Chief near Flint, Michigan. I’ve also served as the President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs in 2006-2007.


How did you become the Director of Recruiting?

The day I retired and was headed for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, 1-800-BOARDUP Deputy National Director, Tony Young, called me to congratulate me on my retirement. He asked me if I might be interested in being a recruiter for 1-800-BOARDUP. A short time later, I said yes and started my journey – and that was four years ago.


What is your favorite thing about the fire service?

After spending over 42 years in the Fire Service, there are many things that I enjoyed about it. The most enjoyment came in the working together; the comradery was very special. The Fire Service pulls together when they need to help a victim, friend or even a friend of a firefighter. Fire fighters are great folks.


What 1-800-BOARDUP means to you & Why you feel other firefighters should embrace our purpose?

1-800-BOARDUP means a lot to me because what we stand for, the victim. I have been to many fires over my career and know the importance of helping “Mrs. Smith”. Even after the fire, I feel we have the moral obligation to continue to do the right thing for victims, and this is what 1-800-BOARDUP stands for. As a fire officer, I would hope that others in the fire service would embrace our concept. By assisting the victims, 1-800-BOARDUP comes alongside the fire department in their mission of protecting and serving their community. We help take that responsibility away from the Officer-In-Charge or the IC (Incident Commander) at the scene of a fire and we walk victims through the recovery process and assist them every step of the way.


What is your favorite quote or saying you live by?

I think it’s quite simple; do unto others as you would others to do unto you.  More interesting is “it is what it is, so let’s move forward and get it right.”


What’s one thing your career has taught you?

My career has taught me to be more patient and not to shoot from the hip – have all the details. The best way to handle the political boards was not to let them see you sweat! Always be cool, calm and collected. Don’t show anger, they will “stick you” every time then on.


My advice for anyone new to the fires service…

Continue to educate yourself!  Reach for the stars, go after the advancement and don’t be scared of it. Do the extras to make your department the best it can be.


After serving 42 years in the fire service, 34 of those as Fire Chief, Jim is concentrating on informing communities on what it takes to clean up, make safe and recover from a fire or a disaster. His goal is to inform every Fire Chief of their duty to abate attractive nuisances in their fire coverage area after a fire. Jim is available to speak at your next fire service conference, firefighter training, or meeting. Visit to book and for more info. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *