Two local firefighters recently completed a rigorous officer-training program that less than 1 percent of all senior fire officials in the United States have completed.
DeLand Fire Department Division Chief Justin Desy and Volusia County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Administration Jeff Alberts graduated from the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer (EFO) program in March.
The four-year program saw the officers traveling to the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and writing lengthy research papers on issues related to firefighting.
For Desy, being around so many other fire professionals from across the country had a huge appeal.
“The big thing for me is, you learn a lot in the course material, but you learn so much surrounding yourself with fire professionals from around the country,” he said. “When you show up and there’s 30 officers from Washington to Florida, bouncing things off each other, it’s just incredible.”
Desy’s final dissertation, which he defended before a panel of experts, concerned the response of fire departments to active-shooter incidents.
“My last paper, with appendices and reference lists, ended up being around 75 pages,” Desy said.
“We are very proud of Division Chief Desy’s accomplishment of achieving his EFO designation, which places him in a very elite group of fire service professionals,” DeLand Fire Chief Todd Allen said. “His hard work and dedication to achieving this milestone are a testament to his commitment to our profession and the DeLand Fire Department.”
Alberts’ final dissertation was on the use of drones in fire services.
“Achieving this goal was not easy,” Alberts told The Beacon, “and the time to complete these courses and applied research projects are extremely demanding.”
Desy and Alberts now join the elite ranks of just 455 fire officers in Florida with the EFO designation, according to Volusia Fire Administrative Coordinator Megan Johnson. Among them are DeLand Fire Chief Allen, Deltona Fire Chiefs Bill Snyder and Bush Swisher, and Volusia Fire Battalion Chief Bill Whalen.