Type A’s at the National Fire Academy

By Tom Weber  |  September 10, 2014

I had the opportunity to attend the 26th Annual Executive Fire Officer Program (EFOP) Graduate Symposium this past September 4–6 at the National Fire Academy (NFA). It’s been a long time since I attended, and I discovered that was a big mistake. It’s one of the best opportunities to meet with some of the most creative minds in the national fire service.

The keynote speaker during the awards dinner was Dr. Burt Clark, EFO, CFO, who recently retired from the NFA. He talked about what he thought defined Executive Fire Officers (EFO). Dr. Clark believes EFOs are Type A personalities who think “way outside of the box.” He noted that people in their organizations usually label them as crazy — but it’s actually proven time and again that they were far ahead of the curve.

I think Type A defined the audience that night: enthusiastic fire officers there to present new concepts to their colleagues and get equally exciting professional feedback. That combination leads to great ideas that protect lives and property, and it’s an attitude that ISO Community Hazard Mitigation and I share.

The various sessions throughout the symposium were no different. The presentations opened participants’ minds and inspired dynamic conversations. Although the general focus was the effect that the Affordable Care Act has had on our services, particularly emergency medical services, that didn’t stop the EFOs from discussing the challenges on the fire side of our industry. One hot topic that continued during breaks and after hours was the new SLICE RS tactical firefighting concept. SLICE RS — which might be the longest acronym in creation — stands for Size-up, Location of the fire, Isolate the flow path, Cool from a safe distance, Extinguish, and then Rescue and Salvage. SLICE RS is very important as a defined plan of action supported by data and science to attack building fires, and it greatly improves the safety of firefighters.

The sharing of ideas at the symposium is one of its great benefits, and that collaboration may just be the most important aspect for me. That’s part of my job here at ISO — to work hard to create new and innovative ways to serve the fire service community.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s symposium and hope to see many more Type A’s there. In the meantime, feel free to contact me at TWeber@verisk.com.

Tom Weber

Thomas Weber, CFO, EFO, MPA, MiFireE, National Director of ISO Community Hazard Mitigation Services, working with the fire service on structural fire protection initiatives, ISO grades, building code and emergency management services. He is a 35-year veteran of the fire service and retired fire chief