The Managing Officer Program for Company Officers

Training Notebook By Stephen Marsar

Emmitsburg, the host town of the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) and the National Fire Academy (NFA), is alive and vibrant. The 107-acre NETC campus also houses the Emergency Management Institute (EMI); the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial; the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; the Learning Resource Center library; the National Fire Data Center; the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) publication unit; and O’Leary’s Emporium, a gift shop that caters to firefighters and security experts from around the world.

The NFA is one of only two schools in the United States operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), operated and governed by the USFA as part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In 2016, the NFA trained more than 100,000 first responders from all 50 states as well as international students, including 45,000 in NFA off-campus courses delivered through the accredited State Fire Training systems. The programs offered through the NFA include 10-day, six-day, two-day, and self-study courses.

Whether you’re a firefighter, a dispatcher, an emergency operations center specialist, a homeland security professional, a local official, or involved in the fire service in some other way, you owe it to yourself, your agency, and your community to visit this fire service mecca! In addition to the excellence in fire service education offered through the more than 170 course titles, you will find the rolling hills, quiet countryside, historical significance, and immersion into a Small-town USA atmosphere just the ticket for learning, relaxing, and rejuvenating your firefighting spirit.

The NFA’s in-residence and distance learning opportunities are free to all firefighters, emergency services members/support staff, and stewards of homeland security. Areas of study include fire/arson and explosion investigation; emergency medical services (EMS); emergency response to terrorism; executive development; fire prevention management, technical fire cause and origin, and public education; hazardous materials; incident management; planning and information management; and responder health and safety training programs.

New for Up-and-Coming Fire Service Officers

The relatively new NFA Managing Officer (MO) program is a multiyear curriculum that introduces emerging emergency services leaders to personal and professional skills in change management, risk reduction, and adaptive leadership. Acceptance into the program is the first step in your professional development as a career or volunteer fire/EMS manager and includes all four elements of professional development: education, training, experience, and continuing education. The MO program has had 105 graduates in its first three years of existence.

How the MO Program Can Benefit You

The MO program can help you as a career or a volunteer officer/supervisor to jump-start your professional development early in your career. You will build on foundational management and technical competencies. The program will show you how to address issues of interpersonal and cultural sensitivities, professional ethics, and outcome-based performance.

Completing this program will make you better prepared to grow professionally, improve your leadership skills, meet emerging professional challenges, embrace professional growth, and be adaptive in your career. You will enjoy national perspectives on professional development, understand and appreciate the importance of professional enhancements, and build a network of fire service professionals who will support you and your agency during your personal and professional improvement track.

The Components of the MO Program

The MO program consists of the following:

  • Five prerequisite courses, available online: NFA Emergency Response to Terrorism (Q0890), IS100, 200, 700, 800b.
  • Four two-day updated leader classroom courses in your respective state (“Creating Environments for Professional Growth,” “Perspectives in Thinking,” “Frameworks to Succeed,” and “Shaping the Future).
  • Four courses at the NFA campus, six days each over a two-week residency back to back.
  • The completion of a community-based capstone project of your choice.

A certificate of completion will be awarded after the successful completion of all courses and the capstone project. More importantly, however, is that the completion certificate stands as testimony to the skills and knowledge you developed and now have in your back pocket for whatever future management positions you may hold. And remember, it is all at no cost to you!

Fire Service Leaders

The crown jewel of the NFA curriculum is the Executive Fire Officer program (EFO). The EFO program is designed to provide senior fire executives, EMS executives, chiefs and chief fire officers, and others in key leadership roles with the ability to understand the need to transform fire and emergency services organizations from reactive to proactive; emphasize leadership development, prevention, and risk reduction; transform fire and emergency services organizations to reflect the diversity of America’s communities; learn the value of research and its application to the profession; and learn the value of lifelong learning. The program also enhances the executive-level knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to lead these transformations, conduct research, and engage in lifelong learning.

EFO students enhance their professional development through a series of four graduate and upper-level baccalaureate-equivalent courses. The EFO spans a four-year period. Each course is two weeks and must be attended at the NETC Emmitsburg campus. After each of the four courses, students must write and submit a graduate-level Applied Research Project that relates to their organization.

You may have no idea today where your fire service path will take you. Whether you are a member of a volunteer, career, paid-on-call, combination, municipal, military, private, or other department, the skills, education, and experience you will gain through the NFA’s MO program will prove to be an invaluable investment.

So, run over to your computer, look up the requirements for the MO program, and fill out the application. Go to the Web site and kick-start your fire officer future:

Stephen Marsar is a 28-year veteran and battalion chief of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). He is a former chief and fire commissioner of the Bellmore (NY) Volunteer Fire Department. He teaches extensively at the FDNY and Nassau County (NY) Fire and EMS academies and is an adjunct professor at the Nassau County (NY) Community College. Marsar has a master’s degree in homeland defense and security from the U.S. Naval Post Graduate School and a bachelor’s degree in fire science and emergency services administration from SUNY Empire State College. He graduated with honors from the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program and is a National Roll of Honor inductee. He has been a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs since 2003 and is a member of its Safety, Health and Survival Section. He is a member of the educational advisory boards of Fire Engineering and FireRescue magazines.

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