In this series, Fire Engineering Senior Editor Mary Jane Dittmar looks at the things that motivated and inspired instructors to present on their topics at FDIC International 2016. Segments will be posted on a regular basis up to and through the conference, April 18-23.
McHenry Township (IL) Fire Protection District
Building the Ladder: Officer Development Programs
Tuesday, April 19, 1:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m.
For several years, I have had the opportunity to travel around the state of Illinois while teaching for our state instructor association. I found one of the biggest challenges for fire departments, whether large or small, career or volunteer, was developing and implementing an officer development program. This was found to be the case in other states as well. My department was no different. Although there were many examples of how a particular department built its program, there were few examples of how to build one step by step.
I have been involved in developing and presenting officer programs as a member of two departments as part of a regional fire academy and for our state fire instructor association. I also used this topic for two applied research projects while completing the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy. My desire is to pass this information and experience on to help other departments to develop their programs by sending them back to their departments with the guidance, ideas, and resources needed to establish an officer development program that meets their departments’ needs.
I find it rewarding and humbling that students have followed up after the workshop to say that the information helped them to start or improve their program, whether the department is small or large, career or volunteer.