Chief Blackwell began his fire service career as a volunteer in 1979 with the Chesnee, South Carolina Volunteer Fire Department. He served as Fire Chief there from 1991-1996. After that, Chief Blackwell changed careers and became a police officer with the City of Chesnee. He was soon appointed Police Chief. Chief Blackwell has also held positions as Fire Chief at Athol, Idaho Fire Protection District, Assistant Fire Chief with Pantex Fire Department in Amarillo, Texas, and Fire Chief with the Northern Lakes Fire Protection District in Idaho. In 2007, Chief Blackwell was appointed Fire Chief of the Stillwater, Oklahoma Fire Department.
In 2011, Chief Blackwell was appointed as Fire Chief of the Spartanburg, South Carolina Fire Department, where he currently serves. He has a Ph.D. in fire and emergency management administration from Oklahoma State University, M.S. in executive fire service leadership from Grand Canyon University, B.P.S. in fire administration and fire prevention from University of Memphis, and A.S. in criminal justice from Spartanburg Methodist College. He also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program with the National Fire Academy. In addition to his education, Chief Blackwell has been conferred the Chief Fire Officer Designation from the Center of Public Safety Excellence and granted Fellow status with the Institute of Fire Engineers.
Caleb Connor is a Battalion Chief with Bennett-Watkins Fire Rescue in Colorado with 22 years of fire service experience and an extensive background in fire service instruction, officer development, community risk reduction, and fire code education and enforcement. He has been an instructor since 2009 in the East Metro Fire Training Consortium’s I-70 Corridor Fire Academy, instructing courses in fire prevention/code enforcement, community risk reduction, fire suppression, and alarm systems, public education, and officer development. Caleb also serves on the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Certification Committee and is a State of Colorado Hazardous Materials instructor. Caleb has also been involved in local government as a member of the Town of Bennett, Colorado’s Board of Adjustment from 2020-2022.
Committed to professional development and learning, Caleb holds an A.A.S. in Fire Service Management, a B.S. in Fire and Emergency Services Administration (FESA) from Colorado State University and is a current Master of Public Administration candidate at the University of Colorado –Denver.
Holger Durre has 28 years of public safety experience and currently serves as the Fire Chief for the City of Prescott, Arizona. He began his career on a hospital-based ambulance service in Fort Collins while completing a Bachelors degree in Biological Sciences at Colorado State University. Upon graduation from CSU, he began his career in the fire service in 2000 at Poudre Fire Authority, ultimately promoting to the rank of Battalion Chief. In 2017, Chief Durre was promoted to Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Boulder. In 2022, he assumed his current role with the City of Prescott.
Throughout his career, he has served in all major operational and administrative roles in the fire service. This includes operations, fire prevention, training, planning and analysis, and budget administration. Chief Durre has an extensive background in continuous improvement in local government and has conducted several applied research projects on this topic. He consults in the area of strategic planning and serves as a team lead for the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE). Chief Durre has a passion for promoting mental wellness and resiliency for public safety personnel through his role as the Operations Advisor for the All Clear Foundation.
In addition to his Bachelor's degree, Chief Durre holds a Master's of Public Administration from Indiana State University and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program. He is a credentialed Chief Fire Officer with CPSE and is a lifelong leaner. One of the most rewarding sources of that learning are the students in the Fire Service Administration program. He is passionate about ensuring that his courses are taught in a manner to allow students to apply their learning in the current or future career endeavors.
Larry Grosse, Ph.D., began his fire service career as the organizer and manager of five volunteer fire departments for the Texas Youth Council facilities. During his tenure as the Chief of Construction for the Texas Youth Council, he was certified as an Advanced Fire Prevention Inspector by the Texas Commission on Fire Prevention Personnel Standards and Education. After completing a bachelor's degree in architecture, he became licensed by the State of Texas as an architect. He returned to school and completed a Master of Science degree in construction management and a Ph.D. in urban and regional science, from Texas A&M University. His dissertation: Fault Tree Analysis of the High-Rise Hotel Fire Refuge Concept, was the catalyst to his research focus on smoke movement and detection. He led a research team at Texas A&M University that helped define the updated smoke detector requirements for residential occupancy. Dr. Grosse was an invited member of the National Smoke Detector Project sponsored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. He has authored, co-authored, and contributed chapters to eight books that relate to fire-safe building design and smoke movement and detection, in addition to contributing to a number of peer-reviewed publications.
Dr. Grosse served as a charter member of the National Fire Academy adjunct faculty, where he worked on a team that developed three courses offered by the National Fire Academy. In his role as an NFA adjunct faculty member, he taught the courses to fire personnel in 38 states.
For 15 years, he served as a professor and department head for the Department of Construction Science at Texas A&M University, then 12 years as a professor and department head of the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University. In this role, he created the Fire and Emergency Services Administration online degree program at Colorado State University. Since his retirement from CSU, he has continued to teach and serve as a program coordinator for the FESA program.
Lonnie Inzer has been a college instructor, professor, department chair, and division dean over the last twenty eight years, having retired as a professor emeritus for Fire Science and Emergency Management from Pikes Peak Community College. He is the Pikes Peak Regional Office of Emergency Management Deputy Chief. He is a retired Colorado Springs FD Fire Captain. He has a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University in Kansas, and a B.S. from the Forestry and Natural Resources College at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Kurt started as a career industrial firefighter for Bethlehem Steel Corporation in 1974. Bethlehem Steel Fire protected the Burns Harbor Indiana Division, which employed 8,600 and produced 5.3 million tons of finished steel annually. He advanced to Fire Chief in 1996. In 2003, he retired from BSFD to accept the position of Fire Science Program Coordinator/Assistant Professor for Colorado Mountain College (CMC). In 2013, he retired from CMC to be closer to his five grandchildren in Fort Collins. While working as a career firefighter and educator, he also served as a volunteer firefighter for 44+ years, and retired as Deputy Chief for the Gypsum Fire Protection District in Gypsum, CO, in 2018. In September 2016, he was hired as the Interim Fire Chief for the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District, Eagle, CO while they completed a search for a permanent chief. He was a guest instructor for the Duneland School of Emergency Response (1999-2007, Chesterton, Indiana), the Front Range Flammable Liquids School (2003-2012, Commerce City, CO), and the Annual Industrial Fire School, Texas A & M University (2005-2017, College Station Texas.)
Kurt has been an Adjunct Instructor for the FESA Program since 2013, teaching FESA 330, 336, 341, 342, 438, 441, and 442. He attended the Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education Annual Conference (National Fire Academy) from 2003 to 2014, and is a Life member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association. Kurt has earned degrees from Indiana Vocational Technical College, Purdue University, and Southern Illinois University. Like many in the fire service, Kurt got cancer. Unlike too many of our Brothers and Sisters, Kurt is a cancer survivor. His favorite job title is “Grampa”.
John Roper graduated from the Fire & Emergency Service Administration degree, and is excited to give back to the very program that assisted in propelling his career. After the FESA program, John attended CSU Global for his masters in Organizational Leadership with emphasis in Human Resource Management. He then attended Grand Canyon University to obtain a Doctorate in Education in Organizational Leadership with Emphasis in Organizational Development. John’s research focuses are on Firefighter health and wellness. Professionally, he works for Mountain View Fire Rescue located in Boulder/Weld counties north of Denver as a Lieutenant (company officer).
Stephen E. Sears transferred to the Forsyth County Fire Department in September 2018 for professional developmental and personal growth in seeking the full time Fire/EMS training position. He serves the department as a Georgia Level III Paramedic Instructor/Coordinator for the Emergency Medical Technicians in-house recruit program and hosts courses offered through the National Board on Fire Services Professional Qualifications, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Georgia Firefighter Standards and Training Council. Sears also holds multiple instructor certifications with the American Heart Association to include Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, Advanced Cardiac Life Support, and Pediatric Advanced Life Support.
Prior to serving as a training instructor, Sears served as a Sergeant/Apparatus Operator in Hall County Fire Services since 2007 and completed certifications for Firefighter I & II, Airport Firefighter, Apparatus Operator: Pumper, Aerial, ARFF, Tiller, & Mobile Water Supply, Hazardous Materials: Awareness, Operations, Technician, & Incident Commander, Fire Instructor I-III, and Fire Officer I-V. Sears is currently in training for Fire Investigator and Fire Inspector I-III all to be completed March 25, 2022. He is also already registered for Plan Examiner I for April 2022.
Sears is enlisted in the United States Army Reserves as a Critical Care Flight Paramedic. After promoting above his peers to the rank of Staff Sergeant, he became accountable for overseeing the flight paramedics in his platoon and responsible for assisting in Military Occupational Specialty training for all flight medics in his unit at Fort Carson, Colorado. He was deployed to a combat setting during 2019-2020, in which he took the responsibility as the main medical training instructor for his unit and 13 coalition forces.
David Wolf is the Fire Chief with Estes Valley Fire Protection District, a combination agency protecting the gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park and its 5 million annual visitors. He serves as the Chair for the Volunteer & Combination Section of the Colorado State Fire Chiefs. Continuing his passion for applied science, he was on the technical panel for the UL FSRI Study of Fire Service Residential Home Size-Up and Search & Rescue Operations, supporting three reports that were released in 2022. Chief Wolf regularly presents on topics including leadership, instruction, budgeting, and management of combination agencies.
His fire service career started over 20 years ago as a volunteer in Pennsylvania while completing his B.S. at Allegheny College (2004). He then earned his M.S. from Washington State University (2006) and Ph.D. from Cornell University (2010), all in Geology. While in New York he served the Cayuga Heights Fire Department as an Assistant Chief and contributed as a County Fire Instructor for Tompkins County. In 2010, he moved to Houston, Texas to work for an international oil & gas company as a research scientist and exploration geologist. In Texas he served the 600 member Cy-Fair Fire Department as a station officer, board member, and ultimately managed the department’s fire training program for 350 volunteers. He earned his Chief Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2021 and is currently working on qualification as a Certified Emergency Manager.