Interview with 2014 Instructor of the Year Award Recipient Steve Kerber

FDIC Conference Director Diane Rothschild recently spoke with Director Stephen Kerber, UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute, the recipient of the 2014 Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award at the FDIC 2014 General Session, about the whole FDIC “experience.”

DR: What does receiving this award mean to you? What is its significance?

SK: This award means to me that the fire service is on a good path forward where they want to add knowledge to their experience to be smarter and more effective firefighters. To receive this award as an engineer is extremely humbling because I don’t think of myself as a fire instructor; I think of myself as someone who is trying to empower fire instructors around the world with material they can use to be better instructors and leaders.

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

SK: I have been teaching the fire service for 12 years. I got into instructing when I got into studying the fire service as a hobby and as a profession. The more I learned about fire the more I taught my fire department and, through my profession, I have been blessed with the opportunity to instruct on a larger scale through venues like FDIC.

DR: How many years have you been attending FDIC? What do you look forward to at FDIC?

SK: I have been attending FDIC for 10 years. Every year at FDIC I look forward to listening to what the best instructors in the world have to share. This inspires me to conduct more research to support these great leaders of the fire service.

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

SK: FDIC is an experience that you must have if you are a student of firefighting. The energy that comes from being surrounded by 30,000+ fire service members who want to be better at their profession is amazing. In one week, you can be exposed to more knowledge than you can get anywhere else, but you have to take it back to your department and share it with others to make the most of the experience; every year, for the remainder of your career, you will truly be someone who makes a difference.

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

SK: There are many pressing issues in the fire service, but the one that I am trying to impact is to supplement fire service experience by providing knowledge about fire dynamics and tactics. As the fire environment changes and the number of fires go down, there is a void in fire service knowledge. We can help fill this void with good fire service research done with the fire service.


General Session Award Presentation

Thursday, April 10, 2014

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. A 13-year veteran of the fire service, most of his service was with the College Park Fire Department in Prince George’s County, Maryland, where he served in 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 in risk management and safety engineering at Lund University in Sweden. He has also been appointed to the rank of Honorary Battalion Chief by the Fire Department of New York.

Douglas Cline, president of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, which co-presents the award, says: “Chief Steve Kerber has displayed a profound commitment to furthering the cause of the fire service by working tirelessly conducting research; developing courses based on the research; and advancing the cause for operational effectiveness, efficiency, and safety. Chief Kerber’s research, innovations, and programs have helped improve the training and education of firefighters worldwide. His efforts demonstrate the leadership and role model indicative of the George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award.”

The award, which incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC, is named for George D. Post, who was a long-time member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials and is considered by many to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.

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