Columbia Southern University and Raft Conference Successful

ORANGE BEACH, ALABAMA — More than 120 fire service and emergency medical service personnel attended the Fire and EMS Safety and Survival Conference presented by Columbia Southern University (CSU), one the nation’s first completely online universities, and the Regional Alliance for Firefighter Training (RAFT) in Farmington Hills, Mich.

The event provided an opportunity for fire and emergency medical responders to receive quality training to empower them in making sound tactical safety decisions when responding to, operating at, and/or returning from an emergency incident.

“Because we were able to hold this conference regionally, fire personnel at the local level had a chance to see nationally recognized experts in the field when they would otherwise, have not had that opportunity because of reduced budgets and local government bans on out of state travel for training,” explained Chief Rich Marinucci, Northville Township (Mich.) fire chief and president of RAFT.

Among the regional attendees was Deputy Chief/Fire Marshal Les Rodwell of the Howell (Mich.) Area Fire Department who enjoyed the conference.

“I liked it very much. It was very informative. I got a lot of information and ideas to better the relationships in the department,” he said. He added that speakers’ presentations showed him “some things we could do different and some things we are doing right.”

“The collaboration between CSU and the Regional Alliance for Firefighter Training demonstrated the effectiveness of resource sharing for a greater good,” commented Billy Hayes, vice president of Marketing and Outreach at CSU and one of the guest speakers at the three-day event.

Other guest speakers included retired Phoenix Fire Department Chief Alan Brunacini; Dave Dodson, of Response Solutions/Reading Smoke; Jack Sullivan, Emergency Response Safety Institute; Dennis L. Rubin former chief of Washington D.C. Fire Department and Dr. Jennifer Taylor of Drexel University. The closing keynote was presented by Training Chief Tim Sendelbach of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas Fire Departments and managing editor of Fire Rescue magazine.

To learn more about training events offered by CSU, visit

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