2019 High School Fire & EMS Cadet Program Symposium

July 10, 2019 – July 12, 2019, All Day

Pflugerville Fire Department Conference and Education Center – 203 East Pecan Street , Pflugerville, TX
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The 2019 High School Fire & EMS Cadet Program Symposium will empower cadet programs with the tools and information they need to maximize their learning outcomes

High school cadet programs introduce teens to the hazards of firefighting, provide a consistent stream of trained volunteer candidates, and allow individuals to evaluate firefighting as a potential career. Understanding the key role these programs play in our communities, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) hosted a meeting of educators and leaders from Fire and EMS high school academies, state training networks, and national fire service organizations to identify ways to strengthen these programs.

Join us in Pflugerville, Texas, for the first event of its kind, where cadet program managers can network, exchange knowledge and best practices, and seek assistance with challenges. The 2019 High School Fire & EMS Cadet Program Symposium, hosted by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, will feature speakers, educational sessions, round table and panel discussions, and networking. Group discussions will focus on future trends such as defining mechanisms for working collaboratively, and the potential development of national-level consensus standards. Understanding of contemporary learning styles and use of modern teaching methodologies, including online training, social media, and hybrid learning, will be also highlighted.

Are you part of a High School Fire or EMS Cadet program?

We have developed a survey to identify specific areas of interest and gather information about existing cadet programs for the Symposium. You can also indicate interest in attending the 2019 High School Fire & EMS Cadet Program Symposium within the survey. To begin, click here:

For more information about the 2019 High School Fire & EMS
Cadet Program Symposium, please contact Tricia Sanborn.

Symposium Highlights

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Opening Reception

Please come join the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, presenters, sponsors, local partners, and fellow attendees as we kick off two days of learning and sharing!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Welcome by Chief John B. Tippett, Jr.


Florida State Fire College Superintendent Michael Tucker will open events, kicking off what we anticipate will be two productive days of learning, sharing, and networking. Many of the lessons learned from within the Florida state system can be directly applied to improve your program’s outcomes.

Reaching Today’s Learner

“Generation Z” students learn in different ways from their predecessors. This presentation will provide an overview of contemporary learning styles and modern teaching methodologies to better focus your program to reach these students. Use of online training, social media, and hybrid pedagogies will be highlighted.

Coaching, Mentoring, and Leadership

Coaching, mentoring, and leadership are more than just buzz words – they are the keys to the success of your cadets and your program. Chiefs Ristow and McAfee, both nationally known speakers and trainers, share ways to develop your own skills, and to build opportunities into your program to foster tomorrow’s leaders.

Using Data to Drive Success

How does your program measure success? Our presenters will demonstrate the use of performance metrics to evaluate output, outcomes, and impact. This data can then be used to improve content, secure grants, and justify investment in high school cadet programs.

Sample Drills, Schedules, Experiences Round Table

Providing a breadth of hands-on student experiences is essential to reinforcing classroom learning. Leaders of successful programs share ways to focus these student experiences to maximize outcomes within your program.

Breakout Sessions

  • IFSTA Curricula
  • Jones & Bartlett Curricula
  • Cloud-based Learning Systems for the High School Cadet Classroom
  • UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute Online Training and Resources

Friday, July 12, 2019

Everyone Goes Home® in High School Cadet Programs

High School Cadet programs are the ideal opportunity to introduce the Everyone Goes Home® and the 16 Firefighter Life Safety Initiatives to future firefighters. Evidence tells us safe practices established early will serve our young men and women for a lifetime. Foundation staff members will explain how you can utilize free Everyone Goes Home® tools and resources within your program curriculum.

Overview of NFFF Training/Fire Hero Learning Network

The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation offers an extensive array of free and easily accessible training that can be integrated into cadet programs. This presentation will introduce the wide variety of programs available through the online Fire Hero Learning Network platform or as classroom trainings, which can be used to augment curricula and reinforce promoting culture of safety within the fire service.

Physical and Mental Wellness

Firefighters and EMS providers suffer from a high prevalence of obesity, cancers, PTSD, substandard fitness, and cardiovascular-related deaths. Dr. Jahnke, one of the nation’s foremost national experts in firefighter health and wellness, will discuss the importance of introducing healthy habits early to aspiring firefighters. This presentation will cover diet, sleep, exercise, tobacco use, and alcohol consumption at the cadet level to promote future physical and mental wellness. Healthy habits learned early will support a long and healthy future.

Breakout Sessions

  • School Daze: Outside Problems in the Classroom
  • Funding your Program
  • Building your Program Through Partnerships
  • Internships, Recruitment, and Workforce Development

Guided Open Discussion

Symposium Presenters & Panelists


Michael J. Anderson

Michael Anderson began in the fire service in 1998 and has been employed with Travis County ESD #2- Pflugerville Fire Department since 2000. Michael currently holds the rank of battalion chief assigned as a shift commander. As a fire service instructor, he specializes in Incident Command and Driver-Operator classes. Michael has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Science from Texas A&M University – Commerce and holds Instructor III and Fire Officer IV certifications.

Michael has been a National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Courage to be Safe® instructor since the first Texas train-the-trainer class was held in 2007. He currently serves as a Regional Advocate covering FEMA Region 6. Michael previously served four years as the Western Advocate Manager managing the Everyone Goes Home® Advocate and training programs for FEMA regions 6 – 10.

Michael was an instructor within the Austin ISD Fire Academy program for 4 years, including instruction and program administration. At Pflugerville, he worked with the development of the Pflugerville ISD Fire Academy program. Michael currently resides in Hutto, Texas, outside of Austin. He and his wife Gena have two children, Jocelyn (10) and Luke (6). Michael continues to work hard in order to have a lasting impact on firefighter safety and the reduction of line-of-duty deaths and injuries.

John Barrett

John Barrett

John Barrett began his career 27 years ago as an Explorer with the Denver, Colorado Fire Department. Since 1999 he has held various roles in public safety including public safety cadet, 9-1-1 dispatcher, volunteer, paid-on-call and career firefighter. Now in his 17th year in the fire service, John currently serves as a Lieutenant in Community Outreach and Education Office and also runs the Fire Explorer Program with Plano (TX) Fire-Rescue. John began an effort to preserve lessons learned information from fire service line-of-duty deaths in 2008, founded the annual Dallas 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb in 2011, and co-founded the Association of Memorial Stair Climbs in 2014. John is also the creator of Fire Service MENTOR, a Facebook page, website, and movement that strives to identify the essence and encourage the delivery of mentoring in the fire service. He can be reached at [email protected].

Angela Bennett

Angela Bennett

Angela Bennett is the Instructional Design Manager for the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. She supports the UL FSRI team by managing course content development, instructional design, and storyboard skills for online learning projects. She holds both a bachelor of science and master of science in Emergency Health Services and Instructional Systems Design from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She is a 28-year veteran of the fire and emergency services with most of her service in Western Maryland. Before joining UL FSRI in February 2019, Angie spent over 28 years on the faculty at the University of Maryland, Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI). There, she most recently managed the Institute Development Section, which is responsible for the design and development of all MFRI programs.

Rick Best

Rick Best

Rick Best is a nationally recognized leader in firefighter health and safety. He has more than 20 years of experience in fire service training, program development, and public speaking, and currently serves as Everyone Goes Home® Advocate Program Manager for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. In that role, Rick oversees a system of more than 100 advocates, who serve as volunteer trainers delivering programs throughout the United States to develop instructors for the Foundation’s Courage to Be Safe® and Leadership, Accountability, Culture, and Knowledge (LACK) courses.

Rick began his career as a volunteer firefighter and worked his way into a full-time position for the City of Westerville (OH) Division of Fire. A certified Fire Training Officer II, he is on staff as an instructor at Bowling Green State University, and previously spent 15 years on staff at the Ohio Fire Academy, a division of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Rick has been an invited presenter at Firehouse Expo, Firehouse World, and Fire-Rescue International, and multiple state, local, and regional fire service events. He is a member of the NFPA 1001-1002-1003-1005 and NFPA 1041 Technical Committees.

Rick holds a bachelor of science degree in Public Administration from Neumann University, and is currently working on a master’s degree in Strategic & Organizational Leadership.


Daniel Garcia

Dan Garcia is currently the principal of Hendrickson High School in Pflugerville, Texas. Garcia has served as both an assistant principal and a principal since coming to Pflugerville in 2000. Garcia graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor of arts degree in political science, and later earned a master of educational administration degree from Southwest Texas State University. He was instrumental in leading the effort to establish a Fire and EMT academy in the Pflugerville Area.


Sara Jahnke, PhD

Dr. Jahnke is the Director of the Center for Fire, Rescue and EMS Health Research at the National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. She has served as the Principal Investigator of two large-scale studies of the health and readiness of the U.S. fire service funded by the Department of Homeland Security and a qualitative study of health and wellness with a national sample of fire service representatives from the American Heart Association. She currently serves as the Principal Investigator of a study on the health of women firefighters funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute at the National Institutes of Health as well as Co-Investigator of a randomized clinical trial of an online wellness program with the volunteer fire service. Dr. Jahnke is an active member of the Safety, Health and Survival section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and is called on regularly to be a consultant on health-related topics for that committee. She also has been involved in the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s Everyone Goes Home® program, as well as serving as a consultant to the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Scott Kerwood, PhD

Scott Kerwood, PhD

Dr. Scott Kerwood is a 30-year fire service veteran who currently serves as the fire chief of Hutto Fire Rescue in Hutto, Texas. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology – Fire Protection and Safety, a master’s degree in Public Administration, and a doctorate in Public Policy Administration with Public Safety Management and Homeland Security Specializations. He is the Chair of the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, represents the IAFC as the Principal Member on the NFPA 1500 Technical Committee on Fire Service Occupational Safety and Health, and holds the position of Past President of the Institute of Fire Engineers-United State of America (IFE-USA) Branch. Kerwood is also an adjunct instructor for Capella University in both their doctoral and master’s programs.


Nick Perkins

Assistant Chief of Operations Nick Perkins joined the District in 1998. During his 20-year career with the Pflugerville Fire Department, he has risen through the ranks becoming a Chief Officer in 2011. He has worked as a Shift Commander and as the Training Division Chief before being appointed as the Assistant Chief of Operations. Perkins graduated from the San Antonio College Fire Academy in 1997 and went on to work on an ambulance for a rural EMS system before joining the District. He has earned an associate degree in fire protection technology from Austin Community College in 2001, a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Degree from Texas State University in 2013, and a Master of Public Administration Degree from the University of Texas at Rio Grande in 2018.

Jacob McAfee, MS, CFO, CTO, MIFire

Jacob McAfee, MS, CFO, CTO, MIFire

Jacob McAfee is currently the Deputy Fire Chief for the North Central Fire Protection District in Fresno County, California. Jacob also serves as the Fresno City College Fire Academy Director. Jacob is a former DoD Fire Chief with 19 years of fire service experience, serving in every major division including Chief of Department. In addition, he serves as an instructor for the California Specialized Training Institute, the California State Fire Marshal, and the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). Chief McAfee is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer and Chief Training Officer with the CPSE, a CFAI peer team accreditation assessor, and serves in the Institute of Fire Engineers, Member grade. Additionally, Chief McAfee is a member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors curriculum committee and is an Everyone Goes Home® Advocate and instructor for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation; as an advocate. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program and holds master’s degrees in Occupational Safety and Health and Emergency Management. Jacob is currently pursuing his doctorate in Public Safety w/ a specialization in Emergency Management with Capella University.

Karl E. Ristow, CFO, MIFireE

Karl E. Ristow, CFO, MIFireE

Karl Ristow is currently with the Center for Public Safety Excellence as Program Director for the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. He has 38 years of fire service experience, having served in a variety of positions from firefighter through fire chief. He also volunteers his time to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to raise funds and mentor young boys who have lost a loved one. He is a visionary, educator, mentor, and advocate. Karl holds a master’s degree in Public Administration, a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, and associate degrees in Fire Science and Instructor of Technology. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program. He is also a Chief Fire Officer Designee through the Commission on Professional Credentialing and a Member of the Institute of Fire Engineers. Karl and his wife Barbara have five sons.

John B. Tippett, Jr.

John B. Tippett, Jr.

After 44 years in the fire service, John Tippett joined the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation in April 2018 as the Director of Fire Service Programs. John began his career as a volunteer in Montgomery County, Maryland in 1974. He was hired as a career firefighter in Montgomery County in 1976 and spent the next 33 years with various departments and the County, serving as a firefighter, company officer, and battalion chief. John was also an adjunct instructor, member (and later task force leader) of Maryland Task Force 1 (a FEMA urban search and rescue team) and an integral part of the department’s firefighter safety program. He retired from Montgomery County in 2009 as the safety battalion chief to take a position with the Charleston (SC) Fire Department as its first deputy chief of operations. John spent the next 7½ years as the operations deputy, assisting with the rebuilding of the department after the Sofa Super Store Fire. From 2017 to 2018 he served as interim fire chief.

John holds a bachelor’s degree in Fire Science and a master’s degree in Emergency Services Management from Columbia Southern University. He has worked extensively on firefighter safety initiatives throughout his career, including introducing Crew Resource Management to the fire service and the Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System. John has written and lectured frequently on topics of firefighter safety, decision making, leadership, and strategy and tactics. He earned his chief fire officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2012 and was re-certified in 2015. John is also a Fellow with the Institution of Fire Engineers. He currently serves as an at large board member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Safety, Health and Survival Section, is a certified health and safety officer through the Fire Department Safety Officers’ Association, an instructor for the Blue Card Command Training Program, and a past president of the Charleston County Fire Chiefs’ Association. John was the International Society of Fire Service Instructors Instructor of the Year in 2006.

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams

Jennifer Williams is the Marketing Specialist for the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute. She works with the UL FSRI team and partners to amplify reach and engage with key stakeholders to increase firefighter knowledge and reduce injuries and deaths in the fire service and the communities they serve. She is an 11-year veteran of the fire service with most of her service at the Lewes (DE) Fire Department. She received her associate degree in Fire Science: Arson Investigation from Montgomery College and is currently working towards her bachelor’s degree in Marketing through the University of Maryland University College. Before joining UL FSRI, Jennifer worked as the Public Relations Specialist for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, University of Maryland and over the years has worked on numerous safety initiatives.


The 2019 High School Fire & EMS Cadet Program Symposium is made possible by DHS/FEMA’s Grant Program Directorate for Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program – Fire Prevention and Safety Grants.