ISFSI Member Spotlight: Ocean Kaowili

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

I've wanted to join the fire department since I left high school. Unfortunately, that dream didn't come to fruition until a lot later in life. Regardless, I'm in the fire service now, going on 22 years, and I love it! Who'd have thought that going to work everyday would be this much fun?

Who or what has inspired you as a fire instructor?

I've had both good and not so good instructors in and out of the fire service. When I first got involved with my first cadre, I got excited watching the lights go on when the students got what I was teaching. That's a feeling that never gets old and makes me want to do more, knowing I was the one who helped make the lights go on.

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

I am currently one of the lead instructors for the department's Hazard Zone Management / Incident Command Class. I also assist with Company Officer and Fire Service Instructor classes. I conduct in-house company drills, as well as hands-on drills in the field. I do not take these opportunities lightly when it comes to assuring my crew is at the top of their game.

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

A number of years ago, a few of us recommended a hazard zone management program to the department. They gave us the go ahead to teach it to the suppression supervisors and acting supervisors. After we got about 80% through, one of our executive chiefs was convinced by one other individual he could do the same thing for less money, thereby halting the program for about 3 years. That plan fell flat and now we're back to training the rest of the intended audience to a great success and improving how we handle incidents on the fireground.

What do you hope to accomplish as a fire service instructor?

Encourage others to do the same by spreading intellectual wealth through teaching.

When you are gone, what do you want people to remember you by?

My hope is always to leave the organization better than I found it. I'd like to be remembered by always wanting to assist anyone who needed it and anyone who was willing to learn.

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

Pride in work ethic. Although this is individual based, it seems there are a few who actually take pride in their craft, and not just showing up to pick up their paycheck. I'm happy to say I'm very fortunate my crew has a great work ethic and I'd match them up against any other in the department.

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

I've been a professional musician all of my adult life.

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?

No Nonsense Friend - I'll gladly help anyone, including all the ones no one wants to work with. I don't pull punches which, most times, sets those individuals straight.

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

Touch 'um all! Your students become a direct reflection of you. Be very careful what and how you present, it could directly influence someone.

 

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