ISFSI Member Spotlight: John Senft

1. Tell us about yourself and why you decided to join the fire service

I started as a volunteer in 1970. I previously volunteered with out local Civil Defense organization. It seemed like a natural transition. Following several years as a volunteer, I entered career service with the same department. I retired as Chief of Department.

2. Who or what has inspired you as a fire instructor

As a young career firefighter, I was encouraged by my Lieutenant to share my knowledge with others. Things grew from there.

3. What are some things you are working on in your department and how can others learn from that

I retired from career service several years ago. I work for a State agency providing guidance and advice to emergency service organizations throughout the state. Some of the biggest challenges statewide are loss of the volunteer base, funding for all agencies, and training (there are no minimum training requirements for firefighters in Pennsylvania).

4. Tell us about a project or training accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career

I was involved with a multi-million dollar project for capital improvements at our county fire training center. That included construction of a new Class A burn building.

5. What do you hope to accomplish as a fire service instructor

My greatest hope is to inspire others to teach. I would want people to remember me by being a concerned and caring person who tried to help others.

6. What is the biggest change you have noticed in the fire service since you started

The attitude of persons entering career and volunteer service. Sometimes the sense of entitlement seems to out-shadow any other reasons for being there.

7. What is something that most people don’t know about you

My original plan following high school was to become a teacher. I couldn’t decide between English or Social Studies. Other opportunities came available. The rest is history.

8. If you could choose your title (other than the generic Training Officer or Firefighter) that uniquely describes you in your position, what would it be and why

Helper, Coach, and Mentor.

9. And finally, what advice do you have to give another instructor or to somebody who is just starting out as an instructor

Follow your passion…the rest will come naturally.


Additional “snapshot” information for John:

1. Education

Graduate-York Hospital School of Respiratory Therapy

EFO-National Fire Academy

BA-Eastern University

MS-Eastern University

2. Career path
a. What has gotten you to where you are today

Determination and advice from a great set of mentors.

3. Professional Affiliations
a. What professional organizations are you affiliated with other than the ISFSI

Charter member, NSEFO, now the EFO Section of the IAFC.

Retired Firefighters Association of York, PA.

Fire Chief and Firefighters Association of York County, PA-Member of the Board of Governors

4. Achievements/Recognition

Multiple commendations from the City of York, PA; Department of Fire/Rescue Services, for exemplary action.


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