Inaugural NFPA Responder Forum class commissioned, encouraged to be highly engaged leaders and learners

Blog Post created by cathylongley Employee on Nov 3, 2017

The 2015 Responder Forum class poses with NFPA's Ken Willette, the program organizer 


The first NFPA Responder Forum graduating class was honored for their commitment to advancing the fire service this week. The graduates were nominated by thirteen top fire service organizations in 2015, and received a three-year scholarship from NFPA to connect technology, research, standards and people for the betterment of the fire service.


The following were commissioned during a dinner celebration this week: Rebecca Ackerman, Captain (TX); Justin Arnold, Lieutenant (VA); Jorge Luis Arriaga, Captain (NJ); Carol Brown, Chief (CO); Butch Browning, State Fire Marshal (LA); Chris Connealy, Fire Marshal (TX); John Cunningham, Training Executive Director (Nova Scotia); Manuel Fonseca, Assistant Fire Chief (TN); Darnell Fullum, Chief (GA); Shawn Gary, Master Firefighter (TX); Angela Hughes, Captain (MD); Tom Jenkins, Chief (AR); Jonathan Jones, State Fire Marshal (SC); Dr. Byron Kennedy, Assistant Chief (GA); Roger Krupp, Deputy Chief (IL); Matthew LaVanchy, Assistant Chief (MO); Joseph Maruca, Chief (MA); Dr. Candice McDonald, State Advocate (OH); Deborah Pendergast, State  Fire/EMS Training Director (NH); David Pipher, Chief Training Officer/Firefighter (Ontario); Terri Leslie Reid, Lieutenant (MD); JoAnne Rice, Interim Deputy Chief (FL); Anthony Rios, Divison Chief (FL); Robert Rullan, Public Safety Officer (CA); Kenyatta Smith, Firefighter/Paramedic (OH); Shawn Snider, Chief (TX); Fred Terryn, US Air Force FES Operations (FL); and Christopher Ward, Fire Investigator (IL).


"We are proud to call you NFPA Responder Forum alums. You are the future of the fire service – and we expect great things from you. Continue to ask yourself and others, what can you do to make society safer?” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said.


United States Fire Administrator Keith Bryant delivered the keynote address and emphasized the role each Forum attendee has in improving the fire service. He cited the need for leaders to realize “What you permit, you promote,” and told graduates that standing by silent while fire service members struggle with physical, behavioral, and occupational medical issues is not acceptable. The former Oklahoma fire chief and now the nation’s pre-eminent fire leader, Bryant’s message resonated with the advancing leaders. 


The Responder Forum is made up of forward-thinkers from the following organizations: International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), International Association of Black Professional Firefighters (IABPF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Women in Fire and Emergency Services (IWomen), International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI), Metro Chiefs, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters (NAHF), National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM), NFPA Fire Service Section (FSS), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), North American Fire Training Directors (NAFTD) and the United States Fire Administration (USFA).


Since 2015, participants have explored persistent fire concerns and emerging issues including data; smart technology; firefighter health and wellness; occupational exposure; energy storage systems; wood buildings; hostile events; civil unrest; natural disasters; and fire service cultural shifts. They worked on white papers, engaged in breakout discussions, spoke on panels, and connected with fire service innovators from 35 states, Canada and the United Kingdom.


“Our challenges today may be different, but what is not different is that your community expects you to be there to protect them. The public needs and relies on all of you and your departments to protect them every single day – no matter what the risk, emergency, or new threat is,” Pauley said.


Firefighters, chiefs, fire marshals, inspectors, instructors, training directors, and arson investigators have to understand a wide range of emergency response issues today. They need to know how to manage stressful situations, and be able to recognize certain mental and physical health triggers in themselves and their firehouse brethren so that they can perform better and rebound quicker.

This year’s Forum was in Quincy, Massachusetts where NFPA is headquartered. Participants met with NFPA’s codes and standards, outreach and advocacy, and public fire teams; and took part in the organization’s Energy Storage Systems Responder Safety Program, conducted by Ron Butler of the NFPA Emerging Technologies team.

Firehouse Magazine Editor in Chief Tim Sendelbach and Deputy US Fire Administrator Dr. Denis Onieal provided inspirational and insightful remarks, challenging the audience to raise the bar on public safety and to be bold enough to not only teach the next generation, but to be taught by them. Other presenters and presentions included: I. David Daniels with IAFC (bullying and hazing in the fire service); Paul Erickson with Lemay Erickson Willcox Architects (fire station design and exposure control); Orange County, Florida Fire and Rescue Chief Otto Drozd (Pulse Nightclub massacre); Boston Fire Commissioner Joe Finn and Boston Firefighter Local 718 President Richie Paris (engaging elected officials and the public in the discussion of firefighter contamination and cancer); and Pat Morrison of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) (behavioral health issues, recent IAFF disaster and hostile event outreach).

The NFPA’s Responder Forum’s proactive, progressive formula has been applauded by participants, advisors,  nominating organizations, and speakers. The unique nature of the leadership and learning program brings together a cross-section of fire service representatives from different ethnic backgrounds, genders, geographic areas, and career levels – all working toward a goal of reducing loss in our world.