2017 VCOS Symposium in the West

Be the Change

Join us for the 2017 VCOS Symposium in the West. Sessions for this year will include:

Thursday, May 4

8:00 am – 5:00 pm (lunch on your own)

Opening Ceremonies

Tips to Cultivate Change
Hear from Dr. Lisa Greco as she shares highlights from her doctoral study on cultural change in a fire department. Key takeaways from her session include:

  • Discover two critical elements often missed during a cultural change
  • Learn how to replicate the formula within your department
  • Identify your "secret weapon"

Lisa Greco, PhD, Training and Development Specialist, Nyloncraft, Inc.

VCOS Talks
Join leaders from the VCOS and fire service to tackle the difficult topics facing us through concise 20-minute presentations. Walk away with best practices and new ways to challenge yourself and your department to meet the demands we are facing on a daily basis.

Rail Responses – Preplanning and Response
The ability to respond to and recover from rail incidents is on the top of many department heads and the community.  How do smaller combination or volunteer organizations respond to these incidents or even begin to understand them?  The IAFC’s Hazmat Team is partnered with rail representatives to deliver an informative and open discussion as to how to prepare your department for and incident, resources available to departments and communities, and a scenario-based discussion covering the nuances of a rail response carrying some of today’s most hazardous liquids.  This presentation promises to be engaging as well as informative.
Joe Kratochvil, Program SME, Hazmat, International Association of Fire Chiefs; James Farner, Manager Hazardous Materials Fieild OPS & ER, BNSF Railway

Leading From Within
Chiefs Snook and Latipow will take attendees through many of the challenges of leadership and succession planning.  This engaging team presentation from two highly respected Chief Officers emphasize the importance of leadership building leaders, the leader’s roles and key traits that impact the ability to lead, and how to put your strengths forward while recognizing where building a team of leaders creates a stronger team.
Jack Snook, President, ESCI; Kurt Latipow, Chief, Lompoc (CA) Fire Department

What do you do when Evil Enters a Church?
On June 17, 2015, nine parishioners who had just started a bible study class were gunned down by evil. What happened following that shooting, both with the paramedics responding and the community at large, is a strong lesson in servant leadership and humanity. The response before, during and following this senseless tragedy is both horrible and uplifting.  Join Don Lundy as he discusses the response, the training, and equipment that were obvious that night and the response and caring following one of the worst mass shootings in history. 
Don Lundy, Chief (Ret.), Charleston County (SC) 


Friday, May 5th

8:30 am – 5:15 pm (lunch on your own)

Volunteer and Combination Department Leaders Workshop – Presented by: Dan Jones, Leadership Coach, 1 Smart Career; Kelly Walsh, Owner, 1 Smart Career

Leading People and Managing Things
An overview of the importance of both leading and managing in a volunteer or combination environment.  Knowing your leadership style.

Leading Them All, Tall or Small, Young or Old
An examination of generational differences and why leaders must have a variety of ways to lead a diverse team.

Group Exercise (Zoom Teamwork)
An exercise in group dynamics and communication.

Secrets to Conducting Successful and Productive Meetings
Tips and guidelines for organizational leaders to make your meetings worthwhile and engage your personnel. Includes an interactive staff meeting and debrief for group.

Communicating Simply and Powerfully
Communications is the leaders most important tool.  How to make sure your personnel understand your message.  The leadership “secret sauce”.

Setting Expectations by the Chief Officer
A surefire way to helping your personnel understand and remember what you expect of them in your Department.

The 10 Commandments for Fire Officer Survival
Basic rules to take away for participants in how officers must conduct themselves in order to successfully lead and be respected.

Networking Reception
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Networking is the cornerstone of the IAFC’s VCOS offerings.  There is no substitute for the face-to-face connections you make when engaging with other like-minded leaders.  Connect with top leaders of volunteer and combination departments and see how they are tackling the unique challenges facing their departments. 

Saturday, May 6

8:00 am – 4:00 pm (Lunch on your own)

Modern Leadership: Serving Multiple Masters
One of the greatest challenges for senior fire service leaders is meeting the expectations of multiple stakeholders.  The chief officer must serve multiple interests that are sometimes in competition with the others.  In this program, Chief Piland will present his “Values-Based Decision Wheel,” which is a common-sense approach that brings your organizational values to life in your day-to-day and long-term decision making.  The program provides a practical decision making concept that transcends the ranks and brings clarity to organizational behaviors at all levels.
Jethro Piland, Chief of Fire & EMS, Hanover (VA) Fire & EMS

Preplanning Your Community for a Wildland Event - A Transitional Approach
Preplanning is an integral part of the Fire Service today.  A Fire department often incorporates this in its yearly routine of inspections, life safety assessments, and company level training.  The Urban Wildland Interface that exists today is an imminent threat for many of us.  Being faced with a Wildland threat in the interface is daunting and can be overwhelming.  This class will focus on organizational leadership to achieve a community approach at addressing our threats, coming up with a plan and execution ont he department, local, community and political level.
Seth Barker, Captain/Training Officer, Big Sky (MT) Fire Department

The 10 Biggest Mistakes Firefighters Make with their Fitness
Low fitness and the "cardiovascular epidemic" have long plagued the fire service—so much so that annual cardiac line-of-duty deaths have averaged 50% of all LODDs for the past several decades.  This presentation addresses the 10 biggest mistakes that firefighters make with their fitness, and it also delivers practical, no-nonsense solutions.  Topics include: motivation, functional fitness, nutrition, flexibility, firefighter medical evaluations, hydration and more.
Dan Kerrigan, Assistant Fire Marshal, East Whiteland (PA) Fire Department and Co-Author: Firefighter Functional Fitness

 Modern Fire Tactics – Training Burns
With all the science behind fighting fires that has come out in the past few years, it has become necessary to assure our training delivery matches that science.  Our firefighters and officers must understand the science behind how a fire burns as well as tactics for appropriate extinguishment.  This starts with training!  Chief Buckman brings his experience both from the science perspective but also from a State Training Director’s perspective.  He will lead you through how to put together training burns that not only meeting safety requirements but will teach our membership the science behind fires and extinguishment techniques.
John Buckman III, Chief (Ret.), German Township (IN) Volunteer Fire Department

Recruitment and Retention Forum
Join our facilitators in this open discussion on how to recruit the best members for your department, but more importantly, how do you retain them for the long run.  We know that the average firefighter stays with a department for 4-5 years, so how do we keep them longer?  Discuss today’s best practices in regards to recruitment and retention, learn how to develop an incentive and benefit program, and share your ideas on what works in your location.
Facilitator: Ed Mann, Regional Director, Pennsylvania, Provident 


Founding Sponsor



VCOS West will address topics such as transitioning from a volunteer to a combination department, recruitment and retention, leadership and management, staffing and more.