BY MARK SCHLACHTENHAUFEN
THE EDMOND SUN
A new fire service leadership development program has accepted four city fire officials.
The Oklahoma Executive Fire Officer Leadership Program is a partnership between Oklahoma State University-Fire Service Training, OSU’s Fire and Emergency Management Administration, the Oklahoma Fire Chiefs Association and the Council on Firefighter Training.
The new 160-hour program, which begins in March, is based on International Public Safety Leadership and Ethics Institute curriculum. It was developed to bring concepts of leadership and ethics to the forefront of an individual’s career.
Edmond Fire Department personnel accepted by the program are Jon Neely, chief training officer, Brian Davis, director of emergency medical services, Maj. Joe Elam and Battalion Chief Doug Hall; Deputy Chief Ryan Lenz and Fire Chief Jake Rhoades will be facilitators.
Applicants must have 10 years in the fire service, three years as an officer. They submitted a résumé, a two to three page letter stating why they should be accepted and various letters of recommendation. The $1,200 tuition, picked up by the Edmond Fire Department for the local students, includes student materials.
Neely, who has about 30 years experience in the fire service, said he sees the program as a way to become both a better leader and a better person. Neely said he’s excited about the fact that students can do course work early, allowing them to expand their knowledge on their own.
“I hope to improve my abilities in the area of leadership,” he said. “It crosses everything we do in our lives.”
As chief training officer, Neely works closely with a variety of department personnel. He oversees the Fire Department’s in-house firefighter training academy. During the academy, he works closely with the new hires, assisted by individuals including Elam.
Rhoades, who applauded the sponsors for creating the program and city leaders for supporting the department’s initiative, said the program has been needed for years in Oklahoma.
“This course is different than any other course they have experienced in their fire service career as it focuses on the individual and requires each student to analyze himself and the application of leadership principles in their environment and situation,” Rhoades said.
Rhoades said he hopes the Edmond students will complete the program and then challenge themselves further by applying for the National Fire Academy Fire Officer Program; Capt. Greg Westermier and Lt. Chris Denton are completing the latter.
The creation of the Oklahoma program ensures future leadership growth opportunities and fosters future leaders, ensuring continuity in local fire departments, Rhoades said.
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