Tell us about yourself.
I am a first generation Firefighter. I found the Fire Service after my first career as a skilled tradesman in the automotive industry became untenable. For me, working for the U.A.W got to mean “You Ain’t Workin’ “. So I had to re-invent myself. I went back to college and got trained up. I joined the professional Fire Service ranks at the age of 35. After 19 years with the Clinton Township Fire Dept. (Largest Township in the state of Michigan pop. approx. 100,000) I was promoted to Captain/EMS Officer. This promotion put me in the Departments Training Division. After 4 1/2 years, I was promoted to Chief of Training. I recently retired from the department after 2 years as Chief of Training and 27 years in the Fire Service. This has allowed me to continue my growth as an Instructor. I train for the Fire service as a Lead Live Fire Instructor with the Macomb College Reginal Training Center and in Emergency Medical Services as Adjunct Faculty for the Macomb Community College Public Service Institute. I also work as an Industrial Training consultant. I am married to my lovely bride and best friend Andrea. Together we have 4 boys, with our oldest a recent graduate of the Fire Academy.
Who or what has inspired you as a fire instructor?
I have had many mentors in my Fire Service career. My first and a man who continues to be a beacon is Ray Ahonen. Ray was my Coordinator when I went through FFI and FFII. He had such a reverence for the Fire Service. It is one of the many things he taught me about being a Firefighter. To this day I communicate and work with Ray in our roles with the Macomb County Fire Chiefs Association and he still inspires me with his reverence for the service and the respect for the men and women who serve in it. The other pivotal mentor was my senior man when I joined the CTFD, Mark Turo. Little did I know the impact that he would have on my career when we first met. He taught me how to motivate and to be motivated. He showed me how to use humor when it was needed and discipline when nothing else would work. His guidance has helped me to become the Instructor I am today.
Why did you decide to become a member of ISFSI?
When I was promoted to Chief of Training, the point was made that I needed professional development and industry affiliations. It was clear to me that ISFSI was going to be a great way to network and stay on top of training trends.
What are some things you are working on in your department and how can others learn from that?
One of the projects we implemented not only in our Department but County wide, was the Target Solutions Training platform. In this time of doing more with less and the increased volume of calls for service limiting our training windows, we found this to be a great tool to allow our personnel to do training online. It also gives companies the latitude to follow specific directions for hands on training that can be done on a company officer led basis when down time permits. It also categorizes the training based on ISO rating criteria which allows for concise reporting data when it’s time for that all important ISO report to be generated. The CTFD Training Div. continues to add new modules to this platform that every Dept in the County benefits from.
Tell us about a project or training accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.
The training accomplishment that held the most significance for me was bringing Aaron Fields and the “Nozzle Forward “ program to our County in 2018. This came to fruition after over a year of planning. From writing the grant to secure SMOKE funding (Training funds from the State of Michigan Fireworks funding), to writing the lesson plan that would place this in the states course catalog. It also included going to Indianapolis for FDIC to take the class and assess what would be required logistically, as well as ascertaining the training benefit for my Department. There were food logistics, airport pickups and drop-offs, hotel reservations and so on and so on. When it was finally time for the class, on a clear crisp September Saturday, I had 80+ FF’s from around the State at our RTC. They were ready to meet Aaron and his instructor cadre and put themselves through two 10 hr+ days of hard core hose humpin’ . And when the dust settled on the second day and we all stood in the “Firefighters Circle” for the debrief … you could not wipe the smiles off the faces of those 80 + exhausted Firefighters. It is a class that is still talked about and I have been asked to do it again…. We shall see.
What do you hope to accomplish as a fire service instructor?
My hope is to inspire others to teach, to give them the benefit of my many years as a Firefighter and Instructor. To give back to the Fire Service that which it needs, motivated, confident, knowledgeable, Fire Service professionals with a passion for serving the profession.
What advice do you have to give another instructor or to somebody who is just starting out as an instructor?
Teach what you know ! If you don’t know it, learn it ! You cant fake it till ya make it !!!
What is something that most people don't know about you?
I am a huge “Hair Metal Band” fan.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Spending time with my family, no matter what I might be doing.