by Tiger Schmittendorf
I am often reluctant to write about commercial business ventures in my blogs and other platforms as I am sensitive to the trusted relationship between a writer and their readers, and leary about self-promotion. Thus I have delayed writing this post for quite some time.
It wasn’t until I came to the realization that this is not about me or what I’m involved in as much as it is about you – my readers, followers and the fire service at large – that I felt the timing was right for sharing this exciting news.
Earlier this year I was invited by my long time and good friends Dave Iannone and Chris Hebert to share in their vision for tipping the traditional training program on its head. Dave and Chris have a knack for surrounding themselves with inspired people and a solid reputation for bringing innovative and successful solutions to the fire service community, so it wasn’t much of a tough sell for me to join them and the other members of their team at the table.
The conversations were very indepth and engaging, even sparring at points, but all with a common goal in mind: to bring a new and exciting approach to providing training for firefighters and first responders. As I looked around the room, I saw a tremendous amount of passion and caring for getting this right.
It wasn’t long before I was hooked and signed on as chief of training, charged with driving the direction of the educational content of their new conference concept.
So what’s this new idea, this next best thing? It’s called Go>Forward Fire and I will introduce it from three different perspectives. For everyone involved, it’s an exciting new venture in firefighter and leadership training from the same industry leaders who created FirefighterNation, FireEMS Blogs, and the original Firehouse.com.
From a fire service perspective, Go>Forward Fire offers “a conference in a box” solution to fire departments, training associations and related organizations looking for the opportunity to bring a national level conference to their neighborhood. Partnering with local fire service organizations, we work with you to tailor the content and agenda to your local needs and then bring top notch presenters and instructors to your region. Oh yeah, and we handle the logistics and marketing too.
All we ask is that you help spread the word and provide your honest input before, during and after the conference. What you get in return is the caliber of training you would normally pay big bucks and have to travel significant distances for and we bring it all to you in an affordable way so as to maximize the return on your training investment.
For conference participants, Go>Forward Fire is not your typical instructor-student interaction. These are not one-time events – but the start of an ongoing conversation and a life-long series of knowledge and experience exchanges. By engaging both the student and the instructor before, during and after each training event, Go>Forward Fire expands the relationship between the student and the instructor like never before with meaningful social and professional connections in a truly immersive learning environment.
While that may sound like a marketing pitch (It is. I wrote it.), as a Go>Forward Fire student, I assure you that you’ll enjoy an unprecedented level of access to some of the most experienced and emerging talent in the fire service. Once a G>FF participant – always a G>FF participant as far as we’re concerned.
This isn’t about how many PowerPoint slides we can glaze your cornea with or how many pounds of handouts we send you home with – it’s about the conversation. As I say in the disclaimers shared at the beginning of each of my presentations, I don’t care if we never leave the first slide as long as you’re satisfied with the direction your training goes in. It’s all about you.
As an instructor, joining our teaching team means that you’ll benefit from the opportunity to link to your students and other instructors in not only an integrated and intimate classroom setting, but also on the training ground, during meet-ups, through blogs, articles, videos, podcasts, commentary, webcasts, online learning and a growing list of social media connections all under one training network.
I’ve spoken and participated at more than a few conferences in my career. This is not your typical fly-in, do your stand-up routine and fly-out kind of gig. Not only do we offer more interaction, we insist on it. Teaching with us is not for everyone – only the most engaged and engaging.
This is the sharing opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The opening to truly coach and mentor the future of the fire service. The chance to have a deep and lasting impact on our emergency services community. This is an innovative 360° approach to training our replacements and future leaders.
While the term may have already become cliché in the fire service, our overall goal is to be the kitchen table of conferences – not the kitchen sink. Our teaching team is comprised of many of the familiar names you know and plenty of names you’re going to want to get to know.
Accomplished fire service leaders like Chiefs Alan Brunacini, Tim Sendelbach, Chris Naum, Ed Hadfield, Dennis Rubin and Rich Gasaway; and up and coming instructors like Lt. Matthew McDowell from Bluffton Twp. South Carolina, Lt. Chris Sterricker from Suburban Chicago, Lt. Paul Hasenmeier from Huron Twp. Ohio and Training Officer John Shafer from Greencastle, Indiana will provide their keen insight to every firefighter, officer and chief participating. Their national presence will be balanced with local talent like St. Louis Fire Department Captain Nick Morgan and Chiefs Tony Correia and Ed Kensler from New Jersey and Chief Greg Jakubowski from Bucks County PA.
We’re very excited that several familiar bloggers will step away from their keyboards long enough to share their experiences in person, including Dave Statter from Statter911.com, John Mitchell – editor of FireDaily.com, Mike Ward, co-editor of FireGeezer.com, Jason Hoevelmann of FirefightersEnemy.com and Mick Mayers, author of FirehouseZen.com. You know that their conversational style of writing will translate well into the classroom conversation.
Something I’m most proud of is our following through on my vision of strengthening the connection between the fire service and the military. Marine Corps Sergeant and Volunteer Firefighter Jason Ferris will provide a keynote address titled: “It’s not a mission statement – it’s a calling” drawing on the common values our two institutions share. Furthermore, we’ll be donating $5 from each conference package purchased to the support the important work of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
Making the team rock-solid are Brotherhood Instructors providing the intense hands-on components of each conference. Curt and Nate DeMarse, Andrew Brassard, Kevin Legacy, Chris Collier and their team of seasoned veterans from volunteer, career and combination departments across the United States and Canada will relate their vast and relevant experiences in a way that every firefighter can understand, regardless of the type of system or community they work in.
And, if you’ve ever been part of a good training experience, you know that some of the greatest value you take away from it is in the informal networking that takes place between classes. With Go>Forward Fire, those connections start inside and extend well beyond the classroom and on the training ground, not just during the breaks.
As our tag line says, Go>Forward Fire is the evolution of firefighter and leadership training, breaking down the barriers of the traditional classroom environment, creating long-lasting conversations and relationships that will undoubtedly make a difference in how we go forward in the future fire service. And here’s the best part: we’re going to have fun doing it – a lot of fun!
I’m so excited about this new training venture that I’m not sure I can adequately put it in words. I guess you’ll have to experience it for yourself to truly understand its impact.
While I am proud to be invited to be a part of this team, I’d be even more flattered if you’d consider joining us at one of our inaugural events planned this fall; or to attend or host one of the several new events we have in the works for 2012 and beyond.
Check out our conference details at www.goforwardtraining.com and tell them I sent you when you register. Use the promo code “SCHMITTENDORF” to take advantage of an added 10% discount on your conference costs.
Don’t worry, I’m not trading off any of my other ventures such as my feature writing here at TigerSchmittendorf.com, my story-telling at Run-to-the-Curb and FirefighterStorytellers; or my coaching at FireRECRUITER.com. And for those of you keeping score at home, I have no intention of giving up my full time gig serving as deputy fire coordinator in Erie County.
This is just another dot to be connected in my life-long quest to Go>Forward in the fire service. Thanks for riding along.
Stay safe. Train often.
Chief of Training