FDIC International Keynoter Steve Kerber: Fire Service Needs to Find the Right Partners

Fire Dynamics: Steve Kerber of UL

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Stephen Kerber, Director, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, who will give his keynote on “Finding a Voice for Fire Service Progress” at the FDIC 2015 Opening Ceremony, about the whole FDIC “experience.”

DR:  What does being asked to keynote mean to you? What is its significance?

SK: Being asked to keynote is one of the largest honors of my professional and fire service careers. Many on the list of previous FDIC keynoters are my heroes and have provided inspiration to me since I started in the fire service. To share my thoughts about the fire service with a room full of students of the fire service is going to be a great experience and an honor that I can’t wrap my head around yet.

DR: How long have you been teaching the fire service? How did you get into instructing?  

SK: I’ve been teaching at FDIC every year since 2007.  It was an eye-opening and a humbling experience then and it has not gotten any less significant to me. I got into instructing to share fire service research with the fire service. Presenting science to the fire service in a way they can understand and apply it is a passion of mine.

DR: What do you look forward to at FDIC?  

SK: I look forward to time with friends, many of whom I met at FDIC over the years and to making new friends. FDIC is an amazing collection of firefighters who all want to get better at their craft, and those are people I can’t get enough of.

DR: What message would you like to give to a first-time attendee or to someone who has never been to FDIC?  

SK: Open your mind, attend every class you can, make a plan in advance so you get to the classroom before the class fills up, put everything you learn in your department’s context, and take home what you learn.

DR: What do you think is the most pressing issue in the fire service, why, and what can be done about it?

SK: The most pressing issue in the fire service is partnerships. The fire service needs to find the right partners to better understand issues like cancer, mental health, tactical effectiveness, data integration, etc. The fire service can’t do it all itself solely relying on past information and experience. It needs answers faster, and it will get them by finding the right partners with the skills and passion to assist the best profession in the world.


Opening Ceremony

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

8:00 am-10:00 am

Sagamore Ballroom

Indiana Convention Center

Stephen Kerber is the director of the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. He has led fire service research and education in the areas of ventilation, structural collapse, and fire dynamics. He is a 13-year veteran of the fire service, with most of his service at the College Park Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he served at ranks up through deputy chief. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland and is working on his doctorate at Lund University in Sweden.  He has also been appointed to the rank of Honorary Battalion Chief by the FDNY and was named the 2014 Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year.

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