Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflections on the Utah Winter Fire School

I just returned from presenting three days of leadership and safety programs for the Utah Winter Fire School, hosted by the Utah Valley University. As professional speaking is my vocation, I have many opportunities to present at fire schools each year around the country. This allows me to see fire schools that are amazingly well organized and some that are, well, scary.

The Utah Winter Fire School falls into the category of the former. The hosts were easy to work with and clear and timely with all their communications with me. They picked me up at the airport, took me to dinner, and made sure I got checked into my hotel room without any issues. These are especially nice gestures for out of state instructors that I appreciated very much.

But the thing that amazed me most about the program was the briefing the instructors received in the morning on the first day of the school. There, the Incident Commander provide an Incident Action Plan to the instructors and school support staff. They had all the bases covered and personnel were asisgned to attend to every detail.

I had two minor problems in my classroom, one involved the size of my projection screen (too small) and the other involved needing a cable to connect my computer to the overhead sound system. For both items my issues were treated like the school's top priority and were resolved within minutes.

At lunch time, there was a buffet provided for the instructors which kept me from having to wonder away from the convention center to areas of town that were unfamiliar to me. This also allowed me to eat quickly and get back to my classroom to meet with students who may have questions about the morning program.

There were no details overlooked by the staff. They had a professional registration area set up, distributed name tags on lanyards, gave out copies of the state's training magazine, and had a really nice vendor area (and the vendors sponsored meals and snacks).

Above all, everyone was amazingly nice and accomodating. If I was asked once, I was asked a dozen times if I needed anything or if everything was ok for me. And when they asked, it was genuine, not just something to say. The students were equally impressive. They were engaged and eager to learn. They asked really good questions and were good sports when I joked with them.

This was my first time ever presenting in Utah and for the Utah Valley University. I feel as if I returned home from one of the best experiences an instructor could have. In a word... impressive.

Fire Chief (ret.) Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, EFO, CFO, MICP