By Robert D. Wilson Jr.
Published Monday, April 30, 2012
| From the June 2012 Issue of FireRescue
When you’re moving up the ranks, it can be difficult to find the time to seek out opportunities that allow you to develop valuable leadership skills, engage in high-level networking and build important business relationships with vendors offering new products—until now. The IAFC’s Officer Development Program (ODP) will be offering these opportunities during Fire-Rescue International (FRI), held this year in the mile-high city of Denver. Joining the ODP cohort has helped thousands of fire officers increase their skill sets, more actively contribute to the success of their department and set the stage for a career in fire service leadership.
COLS: Company & Chief Officer Offerings
The IAFC created the Company Officer Leadership Symposium (COLS) in 2007 as a unique learning opportunity for emerging leaders. Since then, the program has grown to include three distinct levels of COLS training, as well as two levels of Chief Officer training. These programs adhere to the IAFC Officer Development Handbook and the Job Performance Requirements (JPRs) as outlined in NFPA 1021: Standard for Fire Officer Professional Qualifications.
The importance of the COLS program is apparent, as it not only highlights current trends that are affecting today’s fire officers, but it may also serve as the first structured source of leadership training for many of them. And just as we started our fire service career in a recruit academy, it’s equally important for our fire officers to have a formal starting point for their leadership career.
Each of the training levels within the COLS program challenges the fire officer to look at themselves and their organization in a new light and find new ways to make a difference. All of the ODPs boast high-level instructors who have extensive fire service experience and life experience that they can draw from and share with the attendees. They can also mentor the participants in progressive levels of human resources, fireground operations, fire service law, fire prevention, community and government relations, and health and safety.
Executive Chief Officers
The IAFC is excited to announce its new level of officer development in 2012—the Executive Chief Officer level. This program track will cover topics such as fire service marketing, branding and public relations, government relations, and policy, including a city and county manager panel discussion.
In addition to a fire service perspective, the Executive Chief Officer level will also feature top executives from the private sector. This will introduce fire service executives to new or different ways of moving their organizations forward and how to keep them functioning at an optimal level.
The First Step of the Journey
The ODPs help provide a clear path for fire officer success. But how do officers begin their journey down that path? The first step is to ask questions. If you’re a company or chief officer, you must ask for the opportunity to attend gatherings of fire service professionals who share the common goal of becoming better officers. If you’re a fire chief, you must ask your staff to step forward to fully embrace the responsibilities of leadership.
Expand Your Horizons!
These programs offer opportunities to expand horizons by inspiring new ideas, preparing for career advancement, and motivating leaders to create change in your organization and community. Visit www.iafc.org/ODP for full program details. See you in Denver!
Sidebar: Tradition Meets Innovation: FRI returns with many new, cutting-edge offerings, as well as its tried-and-true components
By IAFC Staff
Whether 2012 is your first year attending FRI or you’ve been coming for several years, you’ll immediately notice that FRI offers the perfect blend of fire service tradition and state-of-the-art innovation.
Customized Learning, Personalized Advantage
Our goal is to make sure that each attendee leaves FRI knowing they’ve had a personalized experience that sets them up for success in the year ahead. But how do we accomplish this?
It begins with the education. Attendees can choose their classes based on rank, specialty or general area of interest. FRI offers 10 learning tracks and various leadership symposia for company officers through our newest level, executive chief officer. Other offerings include:
- Executive Edge: Fosters peer-to-peer learning among chief fire executives
- Our new Metro Chiefs program: Targets issues specific to leaders in large metro departments
- Career Connections: Provides guidance and assistance to those seeking job opportunities after retirement.
Today’s officers spend valuable time seeking knowledge about top-notch resources available in the marketplace. In addition, today’s chiefs use the show floor for “one-stop shopping” and to see firsthand the latest and greatest in products and services. They can also speak with vendors and receive knowledgeable recommendations from some of the best manufacturers and product developers in the world. Several of our new tools and services make this process easier:
- Tours by Topic: Allows you to take a guided expo tour by product category and meet directly with vendors in your desired area of interest.
- VIP Tours: Takes five-bugle fire chiefs to meet with key vendors who have something new to showcase and gives select chiefs a sneak-peek at the show floor.
- FRI App, Expo Section: Gives attendees the ability to bookmark key exhibitors, set up appointments electronically, make notes and check off exhibitors that they’ve already visited.
Answers at Your Fingertips
Our new FRI App also allows attendees to personalize their entire FRI experience. Using the app, attendees can plan and manage their agenda, schedule meet-ups with colleagues, exchange contact information electronically, engage in social networking and scout out local attractions. In short, attendees can have every aspect of the conference at their fingertips and can easily make plans or adjust their schedule to ensure they never miss a second of what’s most important to them.
Attendees can further benefit from one-on-one consulting available through the Resource Bar, located directly across from Registration and right outside the entrance to the Firehouse Café. Here, experienced experts provide free, confidential recommendations to help you with tough department issues.
Customize Your Experience
In order to meet the changing demands of busy leaders with varying needs, FRI continues to evolve. When you attend this year’s event in Denver, Aug. 1–4, you’ll be able to customize your experience, which will help enhance your career development. We’ve created a learning model for success and provided tools for customization that will make FRI unlike any other fire service conference. Visit www.iafc.org/fri for more information.
The IAFC has simplified FRI registration, making it easier for you to choose the package that fits your needs and budget. Visit www.iafc.org/fri to view your registration options. If you have questions, call 708/486-0722 or 877/303-0722 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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