Advanced fire training a positive development for Marquette

Continuing education is expected in many professional fields.

Firefighting is no different.

Ian Davis, fire chief of the city of Marquette Fire Department, has become part of an exclusive group after completing the National Fire Academy’s intensive Executive Fire Officer program in August.

He became one of only 28 graduates from Michigan to successfully complete the program over the last 10 years.

Operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Fire Administration at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, the EFO program is designed to provide senior fire officers with a broad perspective on various facets of fire administration.

The federally funded four-year program, which involves a two-week course at the fire academy every year, is competitive and has an academic side to it.

Following each course, participants can complete an applied research project — which is like a master’s thesis — with various types of research: evaluative, descriptive, historical and action. Davis took the action route all four years because he wanted to actually solve a problem.

Courses also deal with topics such as executive analysis of community risk reduction, emergency operations center functions and executive leadership.

Davis’ thesis topics have been incorporated into new fire department programs, including active shooter policies and guidelines. For instance, the fire department is fully trained to work with the city of Marquette Police Department in this arena, and its paramedics are trained in tactical emergency care.

Another plan that soon will be put into action is reducing the possibility of firefighters getting cancer after being exposed to hazardous materials and smoke. Equipment will be kept as clean as possible to cut down on the risk.

Being a fire chief in a small city should be no hindrance to taking part in advanced training such as the Executive Fire Officer program. Putting out a small shed fire is one thing. Learning how to use ballistic gear in the event of an active shooter is another thing.

Active shooters and contaminants, of course, are possibilities if not realities in smaller communities, and fire personnel have to be ready to respond to such incidents.

Such training, naturally, requires specialized education, and we’re pleased to see Davis taking advantage of such an opportunity.

In the event of an emergency, the city of Marquette should be all the better for it.