VFCA offers two different week-long leadership programs that run concurrently from June 5-June 10 of this year:
“It’s very unique because a lot of the fire classes are geared towards operations like how you handle different fires and high intense calls,” said Virginia Fire Officer Academy Incident Commander for 2022 Bill Donati. “This is geared towards self-growth, and just learning different leadership skills, management skills, the ability to navigate difficult conversations. Just learning how to work with people and challenging work environments, whether it be policy or work conflicts.”
VFOA is a leadership course designed to help in preparing newly appointed or prospective chief officers for different leadership challenges.
“It’s open to chief officers. So that could be battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs, it could be deputy chiefs, or it could be department chiefs,” Donati said.
According to VFCA’s website, “The program includes lectures from fire service leaders from across the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VCOA staff and instructors will guide students on a leadership journey starting with personal leadership all the way to executive-level leadership.”
In contrast, the VFOA is organized and designed to help develop current or aspiring company officers.
Also according to the website, “The theme of the VFOA is ‘Safety Through Leadership’ and is based on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s 16 Firefighter Line Safety initiatives. The program is focused on improving leadership techniques, personal accountability, and fostering the cultural change required to improve firefighter safety.”
“It’s open to either volunteer or paid firemen,” said Donati. “They’re either firefighters or fire officers. We try to gear it to either current or upcoming officers.”
This year, W&M will host the VFOA program. In the past, the VFOA was conducted at the University of Richmond.
“Due to COVID[-19] restrictions and different rules and things like that, William & Mary was available when we were seeking different locations,” said Donati. “It really worked out, and it was excellent timing when we were searching for a location.”
The Academy lasts six days, with all meals and lodging provided by the program.
There is still time to register for the 2022 Virginia Fire Officer Academy (VFOA) program. The application period for the VFOA 2022 closes on April 1, 2022.
For more information on the Academy or the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association can be found on VFCA’s website.