February 2022 Leadership Message From the ISFSI President: Pete Van Dorpe

Greetings brothers and sisters:

Congratulations Joe Nedder

Congratulations to Joe Nedder on being chosen to receive the George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award.  Joe Nedder stood out in an exceptionally strong field of candidates for this year’s award.  Joe was nominated by a large cadre of his peers who chronicled the extraordinary impact he has had on every segment of the fire service he has come in contact with.  Volunteers and Paid on Call firefighters make up the backbone of the fire service around the world but too often go unrecognized.  The breadth, depth, and career spanning dedication of Joe Nedder’s service to his calling should be an inspiration to all fire service instructors and is truly worthy of our recognition.  If you’re headed to Indy this April, be sure to join your fellow Society members at the ceremonies for Joe’s award presentation. 

It has been a Pleasure, and an Honor!

My time serving as your president is fast drawing to a close and I am flooded with bittersweet feelings every time I pause to reflect on that fact.  Working with Leigh and her team and with such a dedicated and hardworking Board of Directors has truly been one of the highlights of my 40 plus years in the fire service.  The Society has taken some great strides in the last few years, e.g. a carefully thought out and crafted strategic plan, an expanded and more robust social media presence, initiating Associate Memberships, a very successful inaugural virtual conference, the Professional Development Matrix, the Mentoring and Coaching Initiative, securing the AFG grant for and successfully delivering the Understanding and Fighting Basement Fires class, building stronger relationships with the North American Fire Training Directors and the Fire Department Safety Officers Association, and many more.  We are poised to continue to build upon these successes with and newly awarded AFG grant to develop and deliver an NFPA 1700 implementation class, delivering our second annual virtual conference (WHAT A LINE-UP! – Check it out!), exploring partnerships for re-launching an in-person conference, updating the 1403 Fixed Facility Credential program just to name a few.  Our members continue to be sought out as Subject Matter Experts, reviewers, advisors, and consultants throughout the fire service.  It has been a very great honor to be able to represent such an august group of professionals.

There is a part of me, a very large part, that wants to continue to be fully engaged not just within the Society but within the fire service in general.  It’s just plain hard to let go of something that has defined so much of who I am and consumed so much of my life.  However, I have been retired from active duty for nearly three years.  It has been and continues to be my firm belief that (at least in my case) having at least one foot firmly placed within the active duty/operational/ administrative part of the fire service is essential to remaining relevant, especially if one finds oneself in a leadership role.  

President Elect Seth Barker and his team on the Board have the drive, talent, and vision for the future of the ISFSI that deserves a clear road ahead of them unencumbered by old has-beens like myself.  I am not being self-deprecating for effect here my sisters and brothers.  I am cognizant of my abilities and contributions.  I am also self-aware enough to know that the fire required to drive the Society to its potential simply isn’t burning brightly enough within me anymore.  That responsibility now rests with the current Board, its officers, and of course with each and every one of you.  I am looking forward to making what contributions I can as Immediate Past President, offering the guidance and sage advice that us “Senior Consultants” are so renowned for (Note to President Barker and the Board – Never forget that free advice is usually worth what you what you paid for it). 

In all seriousness, I am truly so very deeply grateful for the opportunity to be a member of this magnificent organization and to have had a role in its development and progress.  As within the fire service as a whole, the giants that have come before us in the ISFSI have not just laid a firm foundation for us to build upon but have created and nurtured an organizational culture and ethic that will enable each of you, should you choose to rise to the challenge, to better serve your departments and fellow firefighters as well as the communities you have sworn to protect.  Saddle up!

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