Hats off and many thanks to the OFE Oversight Committee, Dr. Ashley, Mary Pat Helvey and all those involved in the Ohio Fire Executive program. I am a true testament of the program. Having only a high school education and attending a trade school my junior and senior year, I felt I did not have the academic ability or credentials to pursue such an endeavor. Clearly, I was wrong. While attending the Maxwell class at Wayne County Fire School in October of 2012, I was inspired by my instructor, Chief Trish Brooks. Her feedback and especially her passion inspired me to focus on becoming a better leader. I mentioned to Chief Brooks that I was thinking about applying to the OFE program. She assured me that I would be a good fit for the program and would be successful. All I needed was that inspiration from her. With the support of my wife, April, Chief Jeffery Hall and the Lafayette Township Trustees, I immediately went to work on submitting the application. Uncertain if I would make the cut, I was extremely grateful when I received my acceptance letter. I still have that letter today.
The program has taught me many things. People are our most valuable resource. Give them clear expectations and allow them to do their job without micromanaging. I also learned to look beyond the fire service to research solutions to challenges we face, how to become a change agent in our organization, how to build community relationships, team building, and legal components to name just a few. The instructors go over and above to answer questions. They provide additional resources and assistance outside of the classroom if need be. Further, I have already capitalized on a huge benefit of the program…networking. Connecting with my fellow graduates of Class 13 is akin to having 17 additional members on our fire department.
Thanks for inspiring change amongst the fire service leaders of Ohio and the outstanding educational programs offered by the Ohio Fire & Emergency Services Foundation.
Assistant Chief Brad Winter, OFE
Lafayette Township Fire Department