Skip to content


Conference Advisory Board

Conference Advisory Board

We welcome our Conference Advisory Board and thank them for their participation. Read on to learn more about each member!

Benjamin Barksdale

Fire Chief, Orlando Fire Department

Orlando, FL, USA

Fire Chief Benjamin M. Barksdale began his fire service career with the Arlington County Fire Department, Arlington VA in June of 1987. Chief Barksdale served in Arlington County for twenty-four years after rising to second in command and retired as an Assistant Chief.

While in Arlington, he rose thru the ranks and worked in various assignments to include Training Officer, Technical Rescue Specialist, Hazardous Materials Specialist, Health and Safety Officer, Fire Inspector, Law Enforcement Fire Investigator and Chief Fire Marshal.

Chief Barksdale retired from Arlington County in June 2011 and was hired in that same month by the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department (PGFD) as a Second in Command and Deputy Fire Chief. He started his tenure with PGFD as the Deputy Chief in Administrative Service Command. After a year and a half in ASC, he was assigned as the Deputy Chief in Emergency Services Operations for 3 years and then later served two years as the Deputy Chief of Support Services.

In March of 2019, Chief Barksdale was appointed as the 13th Fire Chief for Prince George’s County. In November of 2019 Chief Barksdale retired from PGFD and was appointed by Mayor Dyer as the 20th Fire Chief for the City of Orlando.

Chief Barksdale holds a M.S. in Management from The John Hopkins University, Baltimore Maryland and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy, Executive Fire Officer Program. He is also recognized as a Chief Fire Officer by the Commission on Professional Credentialing and Certified as a Public Manager from George Washington University.

He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and a member of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters, Black Chief Officers Committee. Chief Barksdale also served on several national boards and committees

Chief Barksdale chaired several fire service committees while working in the National Capital Region and was a member of a Type III Incident Management Team. Chief Barksdale was a part of the Arlington County Fire Department command team during the attack on the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 and served two weeks as the Operations Section Chief for the Northern Virginia Senior Management Team at the EOC in the city of New Orleans after Katrina.

Chief Barksdale has traveled to Kenya during the past three years to assist Africa Fire Mission with training the Kenyan Fire Service. He lives in the City of Orlando with his wife, Sandra. They have a twenty-two-year-old daughter Olivia who graduated from Clark University in Worcester MA. Olivia is living and working in Boston. Both Chief Barksdale and his wife Sandra have a strong background in public safety. Sandra retired after serving 32 years as a police officer with the Arlington County Police Department.

John Butler

john butler headshot

Fire Chief, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department

Fairfax County, VA, USA

John S. Butler has been the Fire Chief for the Fairfax County (VA) Fire and Rescue Department since September 2018. He formerly served as the first internal fire chief for Howard County (MD) Department of Fire and Rescue Services and was the first chief to have held every rank within that department. He is an active paramedic and holds a graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University, and certificates from the Johns Hopkins Public Safety Leadership Program, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program, and the IAFC Fire Service Executive Development Institute.  Chief Butler co-chairs the International Association of Fire Chief Diversity Executive Leadership Program, holds the Chief Fire Officer designation awarded from the Center of Public Safety Excellence, is a member of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors, and sits on the Northern Virginia Fire and Rescue Leadership Development Institute Advisory Board.  He is a Marine Corps veteran with 20 years of active and reserve service, including two combat tours.

Melvin Carter

Fire Chief, Richmond Fire & Emergency Services

Richmond, VA, USA

Melvin Carter currently serves as the Chief of Fire for the City of Richmond. He was appointed as the 21st Fire Chief for the City on July 10, 2017. Prior to his appointment, he served as the Executive Director of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs from 2014 to 2017. Chief Carter began his fire service career by serving as a volunteer firefighter in the County of Henrico Division of Fire. This volunteer experience prepared him for his first professional firefighter opportunity in the City of Petersburg. Chief Carter ascended the career ladder after being hired by the Richmond Fire Department in 1987. He has held key administrative positions such as Deputy Fire Chief of Operations, Assistant Fire Marshal, Deputy Fire Marshal, Deputy Emergency Manager, Battalion Chief and Shift Commander.

Chief Carter holds a BS in Business Administration. He is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs; International Association of Black Professional Firefighters; and the National Fire Protection Association. He is a Reading Mentor at the local Elementary Schools and active in his community.

Chief Carter is a native of Richmond, VA and brings 37 years of fire service knowledge and personal experience to his role as Fire Chief. He is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and the Virginia Air National Guard.

Brian Fennessy

Fire Chief, Orange County Fire Authority

Orange County, CA, USA

Brian Fennessy became Fire Chief of the Orange County Fire Authority on April 16, 2018.

Chief Fennessy began his career in 1978 with the US Department of Agriculture’s United States Forest Service and the US Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management working as a hotshot crewmember, hotshot/helishot/helitack captain and ultimately crew superintendent.


In 1990, Fennessy joined the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department (SDFD) and ultimately became Chief of Department in 2015. One of his many accomplishments while with the SDFD was his developing & establishing a multi-mission Fire/Rescue/EMS helicopter program designed to serve the citizens of the City of San Diego and the region.

Chief Fennessy has enjoyed a diversity of executive leadership and management experiences in both the wildland fire and metropolitan fire service communities. He believes that Mission-Driven Culture (MDC) is the future of the fire service and has presented on this topic at a variety of local, state and national venues.

Chief Fennessy has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and has participated in hundreds of Fire Service, NIMS, and Incident Command Systems courses throughout his career. Fennessy has also participated and hosted the Wharton Mission-Critical Team Summit and completed many specialized leadership-training courses, including the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI) program and for the last ten-years, representing the IAFC on the NWCG Leadership Subcommittee.

Chief Fennessy has held multiple Incident Command System (ICS) certifications and positions, has also served on National Incident Management Teams, and developed one of the first All-Hazard Incident Management Teams (AHIMT) in the US. He currently serves as the representative for the nine (9) Western Division FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Task Force (US&R) Sponsoring Agency Chiefs, is Vice-Chair of both the California Fire Chiefs/Metropolitan Chiefs Association and Vice-Chair of the FIRESCOPE Board of Directors.

Reginald Freeman

Reginald Freeman headshot

Fire Chief, City of Oakland Fire Department

Oakland, CA, USA

Reginald D. Freeman became the Fire Chief for the City of Oakland in 2021. Prior to this, he was the

Fire Chief/Emergency Management Director for the City of Hartford. In addition to the City of Hartford, Chief Freeman served as the international Fire Chief for Lockheed Martin and served as a civilian Fire Chief in Iraq for the U.S. Department of Defense from 2004-2008. He has worked in a number of fire service capacities in his career including Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Fire Captain, Fire Service Instructor, Assistant Fire Chief, and Fire Chief.

Chief Freeman’s educational accomplishments include a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership from Bellevue University in Bellevue, NE. He earned his Master’s Degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, AZ and he is currently pursuing his Doctorates in Organizational Leadership with an emphasis in Organizational Development. Chief Freeman is also a graduate and Fellow of Harvard University’s Senior Executives for State & Local Government program at the Kennedy School of Government. Chief Freeman previously served as the Chair of the Industrial Fire & Life Safety Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and a previous Board member of the Executive Fire Officer Section of the IAFC and Technical Committee member of NFPA 1021 (Fire Officer Professional Qualifications), respectively. Additionally, Chief Freeman served as Chairman for the Commission on Professional Credentialing via the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. and is also the Director of Training for the Caribbean Association of Fire Chiefs. Chief Freeman is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer (CFO) through the Center for Public Safety Excellence, Inc. as well as a credentialed “Fellow” with the Institution of Fire Engineers, USA Branch. Lastly, Chief Freeman serves on the Board of Directors for NFPA.

Chief Freeman is an Adjunct Professor for Anna Maria College and the University of Florida where he lectures in both undergraduate and graduate Fire Science and Master of Public Administration programs.

Charles Hood

Fire Chief, San Antonio Fire Department

San Antonio, TX, USA

Charles Hood was sworn in as the Fire Chief of the City of San Antonio on April 16th 2007 becoming the first outside Fire Chief and the first African American Fire Chief in this historically significant city. Chief Hood leads one of the largest fire departments in the nation, commanding over 1900 uniform and civilian personnel with a budget of over 322 million dollars. He is ultimately responsible for providing fire, emergency medical, special operations, emergency management and fire prevention to over 1.5 million citizens.

Chief Hood joined the City of Phoenix Fire Department in 1984 where he rose through the ranks from firefighter / paramedic to Assistant Fire Chief. Chief Hood flew over 1000 rescue missions as a flight paramedic for Samaritan Air Evac. Chief Hood was a member of the Phoenix Fire Department’s Urban Search & Rescue Task Force and FEMA’s elite Urban Search and Rescue’s National Incident Support Team. He has been deployed on numerous large scale domestic incidents and National Security Events.

Chief Hood’s progressive leadership style and vision has resulted in many achievements. The SAFD is responsible for over 310,000 Unit Responses per year. Since joining the SAFD, Chief Hood has doubled the size of both the HAZMAT and Technical Rescue Teams. In 2010, Chief Hood established a Health & Wellness Program and recently added a Certified Athletic Trainer. In addition, Chief Hood has collaborated to establish a Fusion Center; created a Safety Division, and Fitness Program which includes becoming an official Cross Fit Affiliate. In 2015 Chief Hood launched a Mobile Integrated Healthcare Program which represents one of the most progressive evolutions in the delivery of community based care. Under Chief Hood’s leadership, in 2017 the San Antonio Fire Department has been awarded a Class 1 Public Protection Classification rating by the ISO, the highest score a fire protection community can receive. In March 2019, the SAFD has received accreditation from the Commission of Fire Accreditation International through the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Currently, only 72 agencies hold both accreditation and an ISO Class 1 rating. In fact, the SAFD is now one of the largest departments (top 4) in the United States to hold both.

Chief Hood holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Service Management from the University of Ottawa and has completed the Harvard University’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government and its’ National Preparedness Leadership Program. He is an Adjunct Faculty at Texas A&M University National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center.

In 2010, Chief Hood was the recipient of the Metro Fire Chief of the Year presented by the members of the Black Chief Officer’s Committee, IABPFF. In 2014, Chief Hood was appointed to the Board of Directors of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation for a six year term by the Fire Administrator of the United States Fire Administration. In 2016, he received the Outstanding Civil Service Medal from the Department of Defense. In addition, in 2018, Chief Hood was the recipient of the Public Safety Leadership Award from the National Fire Sprinkler Association. Chief Hood is also a member of the editorial board for Fire House magazine.

An Arizona native, Hood is the proud father of four sons, Tevin, Jaxon, Langston and Sheridan.

Reginald Johnson

Fire Chief, Charlotte Fire Department

Charlotte, NC, USA

Reginald T. Johnson is the Fire Chief for the City of Charlotte Fire Department (CFD) and was appointed in April 2018. Prior to his appoint as Fire Chief, he completed 25 years with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, where he retired as the Operations Chief. The Charlotte Fire Department delivers fire suppression, emergency medical services, technical rescue, including urban search and rescue teams, hazardous materials mitigation, fire prevention, domestic preparedness, fire/EMS safety education, and fire investigation programs. With nearly 1,100 members from 42 fire stations, including two stations at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, the CFD provides protection to a population of over 850,000 residing in 300 square miles of Mecklenburg County.

Chief Johnson has acquired a Master’s of Science degree in Emergency Management and a Bachelor’s degree in Management Studies, both from the University of Maryland University College. He was an alternate on the NFPA 1710 Committee and has professional membership with the IAFC, North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association, IABPFF, and IAFF. He has been married to his wonderful wife Angela for over 23 years and has two children.

Kara Kalkbrenner

Fire Chief, Phoenix Fire Department

Phoenix, AZ, USA

Chief Kalkbrenner is one of only six female Fire Chiefs of large metropolitan fire departments in the country. Her philosophy is that public administrators are community stakeholders and play an integral role in shaping the communities where we work and live. Chief Kalkbrenner leads 2,000 members and oversees an operating budget of more than $300 million dollars, carefully stewarding taxpayer dollars and city resources while serving as Phoenix Fire Department’s liaison to City Hall and the City's Law Department.

Chief Kalkbrenner has served in every operational capacity within the Department’s six divisions, including Operations (Fire and Emergency Medical Services response), Fire Prevention, Human Resources, Physical Resources, Information Technology, and Training. That experience has provided her with the insight and understanding of all aspects of the Phoenix Fire Department.

Chief Kalkbrenner’s Labor/Management Team created a three-year Strategic Plan through 2019 that addresses the future of the community and fire department.

The Strategic Plan includes six key initiatives:

  • Comprehensive Training and Development
  • Technology and Communications
  • Assess and Prioritize Fire Department Programs and Needs
  • Management of Human Resources
  • Analysis and Management of Data
  • Emergency Service Delivery and Deployment Model

She holds an Associate Degree in Fire Science from Phoenix College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Service Management from Ottawa University. She has served as adjunct instructor for the Fire Services program at Maricopa County Community Colleges.

Bob Kutch

Chief (Ret.), Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department

Deer Park, Long Island, NY, USA

Bob has been a member of the volunteer fire force for 50 years.  He started his career with the Manhasset-Lakeville Fire Department on Long Island serving 5 years.  Upon his marriage to Paula in 1974, they moved to Deer Park where Bob followed his love of the fire service and joined the Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department.  Bob and Paula raised two daughters, Tracy and Kristin, volunteering time with the Deer Park P.T.A., marching bands, cheerleaders, and dancing school. 

Bob worked full time as a High School Technology Education Instructor with the Seaford School District for 33 years.  Upon his retirement, in  2006, he became the National Sales Manager for ASI Fire/Rescue Apparel, a manufacturer of custom silkscreened garments and embroidery for the fire service.

Bob remains active in the Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department.  The department, within its boundaries of four-square miles incorporating residential, business and industrial areas, responds to over 3,400 calls annually.  He has served the Deer Park Volunteer Fire Department in many capacities including:


President Ladder Company 4, 2010-Present

            Board of Fire Commissioners, 1999-2005

            Chief of Department, 1995-1996

            Assistant Chief, 1991-1994

            Company Line Officer, 1978-1983, 1989-1990



            Vice President Suffolk County Fire Academy, 2012-Present

            Member of New York State Chiefs Association

            Member of Fireman’s Association of the State of New York

            Member of Town of Babylon Chiefs Association

Gary Loesch

Fire Chief, Sacramento Fire Department

Sacramento, CA, USA

Fire Chief Gary Loesch, sworn in as Sacramento’s 22nd Fire Chief on October 1, 2018, is a veteran Chief Officer with extensive experience serving as the authority in planning, establishing, directing, and overseeing activities of personnel performing fire suppression, medical response, rescue, prevention, and hazardous materials mitigation functions. He also has a wide-ranging background in establishing and maintaining comprehensive and consistent training programs.

Chief Loesch has served in various leadership capacities, including Chief Officer of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Task Force Contingent, Operations Chief for the Welcome America (4th of July) & Made in America (Labor Day) Festivals in Philadelphia, and Planning & Operations Chief for the World Meeting of Families & Papal Visit to Philadelphia in 2015 and the Democratic National Convention in 2016.

Chief Loesch’s career spans 34 years in the fire service. In his previous position, he served as the City of Philadelphia’s Deputy Fire Commissioner, where he commanded over 2,700 EMS and fire personnel in two divisions and 11 battalions, serving the fifth largest City in our nation.

Chief Loesch is a graduate of Neumann University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration. He is also a 2018 graduate of the Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI) administered by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC). He has a demonstrated track record of finding new and innovative solutions to improving service delivery.

Here in Sacramento, he leads a department with over 711 members who provide service to over 530,000 residents and respond to over 93,000 calls for service a year.

Matthew Pegg

Fire Chief & General Manager of Emergency Management, City of Toronto

Toronto, ON, CANADA

Matthew Pegg is the Fire Chief in the City of Toronto, Ontario. Toronto Fire Services is the largest fire service in Canada with 3,200 full-time personnel. Matt is also the General Manager of Emergency Management for the City of Toronto.

Prior to being appointed as Fire Chief in Toronto, Matt served as a Deputy Fire Chief in Toronto, Brampton, Ajax and Georgina. Matt is a past member and former co-chair of the Ontario Fire Service (Section 21) Advisory Committee to the Ontario Minister of Labour and past NFPA 1971/1851 Technical Committee member.

Matt is a graduate of Dalhousie University in both Leadership and Administration, Queen’s University in Labour Relations and the Schulich School of Business' Masters of Public Management. He is a recipient of the Heroism and Community Service Medal, Ontario Medal of Firefighter’s Bravery, the Fire Service Exemplary Service Medal and the Fire Services Long Service medal. 

Matt has been awarded the Executive Chief Fire Officer Professional Designation and serves as Honourary Aide de Camp to Her Honour Elizabeth Dowdeswell, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

Jens Stiegel

Fire Chief, Fire Department of Frankfurt

Frankfurt, GERMANY

Gina Sweat

Fire Chief, Memphis Fire Department

Memphis, TN, USA

Gina Y. Sweat began her career with the Memphis Fire Department on May 26, 1992. As a firefighter, she was originally assigned to Snorkel 2 at Fire Station 1. She later transferred to Engine 1 where she remained when she was promoted to Driver on July 5, 1995. Gina was promoted to Lieutenant on March 10, 1998 and assigned to Engine 5. In May of 2001, she was promoted to Battalion Chief. She assumed command of Battalion 4 which included Fire Stations 7, 11, 15, 19, and 28.

On August 29, 2008, Gina was promoted to Division Chief and assigned at Fire Administration. In her role, she collaborated with the Fire Department Command Staff as well as other City Divisions regarding operational issues, staffing, disciplinary actions, budgeting, and strategic planning. In July of 2014, she assumed the duties of the Deputy Chief of Logistics on an interim basis. In this capacity, she was responsible for the Logistics Service Center as well as the Fire Communications Service Center.

On January 1, 2016, Gina was appointed as the Director of Fire Services. She is the first female to service in this capacity in the history of the Memphis Fire Department and one of only a handful of females leading a metropolitan fire department in the United States.

Director Sweat credits her success to her parents for instilling the value of hard work and determination in her at a young age. She attended Freed-Hardeman University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Marketing in 1988. She also played collegiate basketball while attending Freed-Hardeman. After joining the Memphis Fire Department, she continued her education by obtaining a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Fire Administration in 2000 and a Master’s of Professional Studies in Strategic Leadership in 2013, both from the University of Memphis.

Eric Tade

Fire Chief. Denver Fire Department

Denver, CO, USA

Fire Chief Eric C. Tade is a second-generation firefighter who is currently in his 28th year of service with the Denver Fire Department. Fire Chief Tade was first appointed to the position of Fire Chief by Mayor Hickenlooper in 2010 and was reappointed by Mayor Michael Hancock in 2011 to present.

Fire Chief Tade has risen through the ranks of the Denver Fire Department, serving in a variety of assignments which include the Operations Division, Dispatch, DIA/ARFF, and the Administration Division. Fire Chief Tade has previously served for ten years as the Director of Governmental Affairs for Local 858, helping to improve communications between the Union, the Department Administration, and elected officials. Additionally, Fire Chief Tade has served for nine years as a City Councilperson in a municipality with a population of more than 125,000 residents. Fire Chief Tade previously served as a member of the National League of Cities’ Public Safety and Crime Prevention Steering Committee.

Fire Chief Tade has a degree in Fire Science and has served as an instructor at various fire leadership conferences. Fire Chief Tade is a graduate of the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Officers Leadership Program. He also received his designation as a Chief Fire Officer from the Center for Public Safety Excellence. Fire Chief Tade has become a recognized leader in regionalism and intergovernmental agreements relating to fire protection services. Currently, Fire Chief Tade serves as a member of the Executive Board for the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association and as a member of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.

Fire Chief Tade and his wife Tammi are the proud parents of three boys, Blake (16), Grant (14), and Garret (14).

Adam Thiel

Fire Commissioner and OEM Director, City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia, PA, USA

In May 2016, Mayor James Kenney appointed Adam Thiel to serve as the 20th Fire Commissioner for the City of Philadelphia. Commissioner Thiel is responsible for leading the Philadelphia Fire Department’s almost 3,000 members in every facet of protecting our Nation’s 5th-largest city from fires and emergencies arising from all hazards. Adam also serves as Director of the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management (OEM).

From 2014-2016, he was a Deputy Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security for the Commonwealth of Virginia. In that role, he helped provide strategic direction, policy advice, management oversight, and operational coordination for eleven agencies with an overall budget of more than $3.1B and 30,000 employees. Deputy Secretary Thiel was directly responsible for the Departments of: Emergency Management, Fire Programs (including the State Fire Marshal's Office), Military Affairs (Virginia Army/Air National Guard), and State Police, along with the state’s Homeland Security and Resilience portfolio.

Adam also served as the Governor’s deputy Homeland Security Advisor (dHSA), deputy Chief Resilience Officer (dCRO), Statewide Interoperability Coordinator (SWIC), and FirstNet State Single Point of Contact (SPOC). He facilitated the Secure Commonwealth Panel and Rail Safety/Security Task Force, co-led the state's National Disaster Resilience Competition (NDRC) project team to a $121M Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant award, and collaborated with myriad local, state, federal, NGO, private-sector, and other partners across all aspects of Virginia’s homeland security enterprise.

Commissioner Thiel was the fire chief for the City of Alexandria, Virginia from 2007-2014 and chaired the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System (NVERS) Steering Committee.  Adam’s 27 years’ experience spans five states (MD, NC, VA, AZ, and PA) as a chief fire officer, incident commander, company officer, fire and emergency services instructor, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter, swiftwater rescuer, and rescue SCUBA diver; he has directly participated in planning, response, and recovery efforts for multiple Presidentially-declared disasters and National Special Security Events (NSSEs), including the 9/11 tragedy, hurricanes, tropical storms, floods, an earthquake, major blizzards, international sporting competitions, and political events.

In addition to public service, he co-founded two successful consulting practices advising a wide range of clients on crisis management, leadership, organizational development, risk analysis, and strategy. Adam is a widely published author and has spoken at events around the globe; he has also developed and taught college courses at multiple universities.

Commissioner Thiel is currently enrolled in the Organizational Dynamics graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania; he completed doctoral coursework in Public Administration and Public Policy at Arizona State University (ABD) and George Mason University, respectively; earned his M.P.A. degree from George Mason University; received a B.S. in Fire Science from the University of Maryland University College; and earned his B.A. in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Additionally, he has completed the Virginia Executive Institute, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government, and the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Homeland Defense and Security Executive Leaders Program.

Adam is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers (FIFireE), a former Certified Emergency Manager® (CEM), and holds several National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-standard professional qualifications. He currently serves on multiple boards and committees, including: the NFPA Technical Committee on Emergency Service Organization Risk Management; Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Fire Council and Firefighter Safety Research Institute; Auburn University's Center for Cyber and Homeland Security Board; the American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania Region Board; and the Philadelphia Police Athletic League Board. Commissioner Thiel is a former chair of the National Fire Academy Board of Visitors and served on the NFPA Fire Service Section Board. Adam is a 2017 Leadership Philadelphia Fellow and a 2018 USA Eisenhower Fellow.

Stefan Truthän

Fire Chief, HHP Berlin


Stefan Truthän is the progressive engine and visionary of hhpberlin. He is responsible for its operative and strategic development since 2008. As chief organisational architect he is an inherent part of hhpberlin since 2002. His free-spirited solutions and huge passion helped to grow and expand the company considerably. Today the fire safety engineering company is one of the most successful of its kind in Europe. One of the reasons for this development is that the studied IT business specialist persistently promotes company-wide digital transformation and process optimization. Todays advanced organizational infrastructure of hhpberlin is primarily the work of Stefan Truthän.

Stefan Truthän is also on the advisory board of INTERSCHUTZ 2020 in Hannover. At the German INTERSCHUTZ he is largely responsible for the concept of Hall 16 and organizes the special presentation „Digitization & Transformation“. Accessible themed islands and experiments navigate visitors through the megatrends of our time. In a visionary dialogue and creative collaboration, Stefan Truthän and his team would like to bring together different perspectives and provide decisive impulses for the future of civil security.

Before joining hhpberlin, the born Thuringian managed his own IT services company netcon and later gained additional experience as business consultant at Novedia AG, a specialized company for web-based company process-portals. In his spare time Stefan Truthän is also a volunteer member of Berlin fire department.

Bruce Varner

CFIFireE International President, 2019-2020 Board Member & Trustee, Institution of Fire Engineers

Goodyear, AZ, USA

Bruce H. Varner retired December 30, 2010 as the Fire Chief of Santa Rosa (CA) Fire Department having served in that position since May 2004. Chief Varner began his fire service career with the Phoenix (AZ) Fire Department in 1967, promoting through the ranks to Deputy Chief in 1985. He was appointed Fire Chief in Carrollton (TX) in 1992, serving there until 2004. His fire service experience includes administration, operations, communications, safety, airport operations, training, fire prevention and investigations.

Chief Varner has taught numerous fire service training classes throughout the United States and is recognized for his expertise in firefighter protective clothing and safety issues. Chief Varner has Associate of Arts Degree in Fire Science and upper division course work at Arizona State University. He is a member of; Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, California Fire Chiefs, Western Fire Chiefs, California State Firefighters Association, National Fire Protection Association, Sonoma County Fire Chiefs, International Association of Fire Chiefs, International Society of Fire Service Instructors, Fire Department Safety Officers Association and a Companion Fellow in the Institution of Fire Engineers. Chief Varner is a Nationally Accredited Chief Fire Officer completing his 3rd re-accreditation in 2010. He is a Blue Card certified IC, Blue Card Instructor and a Master Instructor for the Federal Highways SHRP2 National Traffic Incident Management Responder Training Program. He is Pro-Board certified as a Health Safety Officer and Incident Safety Officer. He is an authorized OHSA instructor for General Industry. Chief Varner also serves as a Health and Safety Advisor for the Avondale, AZ Fire and Medical Fire Department. In addition, he is an International Board Member for the Institution of Fire Engineers and the International President for 2019 – 2020 He remains and active member of the IFE-USA Branch and a member of the Board.

Chief Varner is a member of the National Fire Protection Association Technical Correlating Committee on Fire Service Protective Clothing and Equipment and the Technical Committee on Electronic Safety Equipment for Fire and Emergency Services (committee chair from 2002-2012) with responsibilities for NFPA 1982 - Personal Alert Safety Systems, NFPA 1801 - Thermal Imagers, NFPA1802 - Portable Radios and NFPA 1800 – Electronic Safety Equipment. He is a Life member of the NFPA and has been involved in the Protective Clothing and Equipment project since 1985. He is an active member of the IAFC Safety and Health Section. In 2001 he was Fire Chief Magazine’s Career Fire Chief of the year. Chief Varner has served as a subject matter expert on the GLANSER, PHASER and Building Stabilization DHS S & T projects and as a consultant/advisor with the UCLA PHASER Team. He resides in Goodyear, AZ

Peter Wagner

Dr., Berlin Fire Department


Roy Wilsher

Chair, National Fire Chiefs Council, UK


Roy joined London Fire Brigade in 1981.In 1996 Roy achieved a 1st Class B.Eng(Hons) Fire Safety Engineering, becoming a Chartered Engineer in 2000. Roy was project lead for the restructure of London Fire Brigade in 2001, and became Assistant Commissioner for Fire Safety in 2002.  In 2004 Roy joined Hertfordshire as Deputy Chief Fire Officer and was appointed Chief Fire Officer in 2005.   In April 2011 Roy’s role expanded to Director for Community Protection and Chief Fire Officer, including county wide Trading Standards, Emergency Planning and the County Community Safety Unit.  From April 2013 to March 2017 Roy was also Chief Executive for Hertfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Roy was appointed as the first Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) in April 2017.

Chairing the Council, a UK wide body. Representing NFCC in national and international forums, providing support to Officers and Fire & Rescue Services, providing professional advice to Fire Service Management Committee, Home Office and the Devolved Administrations as appropriate.

Roy has played and continues to play a significant role on a national and international level.  His major roles and achievements include:

  • 2011 - strategic lead for the UK rescue response for the Japan earthquake and tsunami.
  • Director of Operations for Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA 2011-2017), Chair of Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) board since inception 2012, Vice-chair of the National Fire Service Strategic Resilience Board, Chair of Fire Service National Operational Guidance Board 2012-2018, now overseeing the NFCC Central Programme Office.
  • Attending a number of major incidents: the Putney gas explosion, the mortar bomb attack on Downing Street, fire bomb attacks on Oxford Street and Operational Commander for the Paddington rail crash.
  • Project Director for Exercise Orion in 2010.
  • Lead National Strategic Adviser under the National Co-ordination and Advisory Framework (NCAF) since 2008. 
  • Chair of CFOA’s National Operations Committee 2011-2017.
  • Member of Expert Panel advising Government following the Grenfell Tragedy since July 2017
  • Chair of the Fire Protection Board
  • Advice to Fire Standards Board and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services
  • Represents Fire & Rescue on the Home Office Strategic Capabilities Board
  • Board Member Defence Fire Risk Management Organisation (DFRMO)


Queen’s Fire Service Medal (QFSM) – Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2013

Awarded OBE in New Year’s Honours list 2007

Long Service and Good Conduct Medal 2002

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal,

Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal

Trisha Wolford

Fire Chief, Anne Arundel County Fire Department

Anne Arundel County, MD, USA

Chief Wolford was officially sworn in as Chief of Department on January 28th, 2019. Chief Wolford is the 12th Fire Chief in the 54-year history of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department. This appointment is a homecoming for Chief Wolford, as she started her fire service career in Maryland with the Anne Arundel County Fire Department in January of 2006.

Chief Wolford operated as a firefighter/paramedic until her assignment to the Fire Marshal’s Office in 2011. She spent seven months training at the Anne Arundel County Police Academy and was sworn in as a law enforcement officer in May 2012. She was then assigned to the Fire and Explosives Investigation Unit where she promoted to Lieutenant in 2014. With her law enforcement and paramedic background, Chief Wolford was a part of the Anne Arundel County Tactical Medic SWAT program for four years, providing medical attention to the Anne Arundel County Police Quick Response Team.

In December 2015, she accepted the position of Deputy Fire Chief/Fire Marshal with the Bozeman Fire Department in Bozeman, Montana. The Bozeman Fire Department is comprised of three fire stations and 51 firefighters. She was responsible for administrative services, public education, code enforcement, fire investigation, fire inspections, company inspections, and city Fire Marshal duties.
In 2017, Chief Wolford joined the Spokane Fire Department as the Assistant Fire Chief overseeing full operations of the department. She directly supervised Deputy Chiefs managing Operations, Training, Support Services, Human Resources, and the Fire Marshal Division.

Chief Wolford received her bachelor’s degree from Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, WV and a Master’s Degree in Management and Leadership from Western Governor’s University. She received her Paramedic certification from Anne Arundel Community College in 2009 and continues to be a Nationally Registered Paramedic. She is a graduate of the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and a graduate of the IAFC’s Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI) and holds a CFO and CFM designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). Chief Wolford is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs Human Relations Committee, Chair of the Professional Development Committee and the National Fire Academy Liaison for the EFO Section Committee.