Charles " BIG MIKE" Elston- City Of Salem Fire Department & Kentland Vol. Fire Department
Charles “Big Mike” Elston is a Captain with the Salem Fire-EMS Department (Salem, VA) serving as a company officer and technical rescue team leader at the city’s technical rescue station, he is also a life member of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department and a firefighter with the Bedford Fire Department (Bedford, VA). He has over 30 years of firefighting experience serving as a paid and volunteer firefighter.He is an adjunct instructor and technical rescue instructor for the state of VA, instructs at the VATF2 Structural Collapse Specialist class in VA Beach, VA, National Registered Paramedic, and also instructs in several other special operation disciplines.
Chris Smith - DCFD & Falmouth Vol. Fire Department
In 1988, Chris began his journey in the fire service as a volunteer with Falmouth Vol. Fire Department. Since then he has served in every position including 10 years as Fire Chief. He also has spent four years, from 1992 - 1996 with the Kentland Vol. Fire Department and three years with Fort Belvoir Fire Department from 1996-2000. Chris is presently with District Of Columbia Fire Department (DCFD) , as well as a Assistant Chief with Falmouth Vol. Fire Department. In his 15 years in DCFD, he has been assigned to Engine 26, Truck 4, and has spent the last 9 years on Rescue 1 in Chinatown. Chris is a Technical Rescue instructor with DCFD, Virginia Department Of Fire Programs, and Spec Rescue International.
Robert "Bobby" Matthews - Norfolk Fire Rescue & Smithfield VFD
Bobby Started his fire service career over 19 years ago with the City of Norfolk. During his tenure with Norfolk Fire Rescue, he has been assigned to busy ladder companies and Rescue Co. 1. Also has been a member of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department for the past four years and assists with departmental training and the truck company operations class. He is also an HTR instructor for multiple disciplines and active with the FEMA – VATF-2. He is currently a captain on Engine 7 and a instructor for Engine/ Truck Company Operations.
Jason Koepke - Navy Regional Mid-Atlantic Fire & Rescue & Smithfield VFD
Jason started his fire service career in 1995 at Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department. He became a member of the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department in 2000 and now serves as a Division Training Chief responsible for departmental training. He became a career fireman in 2003 at Navy Regional Mid- Atlantic Fire & Rescue where he was a driver operator on Tower 11 for twelve years until he was promoted to Lieutenant in 2014. Jason is currently assigned to NSA Hampton Roads Station 4 on Quint 15.
Brian Sanzo - Newport News Fire Department, Smithfield VFD, & Chuckatuck VFD
Brian began his fire service career back in 1986 at the Phoebus Volunteer Fire Department in Hampton, Virginia. He became a career fireman in 1993 with the City of Newport News, were he is currently a lieutenant. He is currently a member of NNFD Special Operations, Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team, a FEMA USAR Instructor and a Virginia Department of Fire Programs adjunct instructor. He is also a paid employee for Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department.
Denny West - Newport News Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Denny currently serves as a lieutenant with the City of Newport News Fire Department and Assistant Chief for the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. He is currently a member of NNFD Special Operations and Virginia Task Force 2 Urban Search and Rescue Team, as well as an adjunct instructor for the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.
Pat Walsh - Chillum Adelphi (PG-34), Newport News Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Pat was raised in the fire service with both his father and grandfather being local volunteers. He started volunteering at his home town department in Cicero, New York when he turned eighteen. Two years later, he became a live-in firefighter at Station 34 in Prince George's County, Maryland. Patrick lived there for three years, and gained a vast knowledge of aggressive truck company operations. He then moved back to New York to finish his schooling. While there, Pat joined the Moyers Corners Fire Department, Station 3, where he served for two years. In 2010, Patrick moved to the Hampton Roads area and started working for the Newport News Fire Department. Pat has been a member of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department since 2013 and is one of the orginial instructors for the truck company operations class.
M. Jason Stallings - Richmond Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Jason started his fire service career back in 1988 where he became the third generation of his family to serve at Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. He graduated from the Tidewater Regional Fire Academy as a volunteer from Smithfield. He then got a job with the City of Hampton. Jason went on to graduate from the City of Richmond’s fire academy where he has been assigned to engine, ladder and rescue companies in the city. He is currently an Assistant Chief of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department.
Johnny Saunders - Carrsville VFD & Smithfield VFD
Johnny started his fire service career at the age of 14 back in 1977 at the Carrsville VFD (IOW Station 20). Prior to his retirement from station 20, he had earned a life member status and served as a company officer for years. He is currently an associate member at Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department since 2005.
Greg Sellers - Chesapeake Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Greg began his fire service career in the City of Tonawanda, NY Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter in 1992. By 1995, he joined Chesapeake Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter then becoming a career firefighter in 1999. Greg was assigned to all ladder companies for over 14 years, and now currently assigned to Ladder 2. Additionally, he is an instructor for the Chesapeake Fire Academy. As a Firefighter/ Driver Operator of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department, he is responsible for the ladder truck and assists with the training officer with training classes.
Matt Saunders - Portsmouth Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Matt started his fire service career at the Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department in 2003. Matt became a member of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department in 2008 and was a Live -in member for eight years. Matt assists with departmental training and is one of the original instructors for our truck company operations class. Matt became a career firefighter with the Portsmouth Fire Department in 2012 and is assigned to Station 1 on Ladder 1.
Matt Spencer - Portsmouth Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Matthew Spencer has been in the fire service for 18 years. He works for Portsmouth Fire Department as a Lieutenant assigned to E2C and also serves at the rank of Captain at Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department. He is also a Hazmat Specialist with VA-TF 2. Matt has been apart of Smithfield Truck Class from day 1 and truly enjoys sharing his passion for the craft with others.
Justin Balius - Hampton Fire Department and Smithfield VFD
Justin started his fire service as a member of the Surry Volunteer Fire Department from 2007- 2012. He became a member of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department in 2012 as a Live-in member and assists with departmental training . Justin was recently promoted to Captain with Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. Currently he is employed by the City of Hampton Fire Department since 2014. He is also a was a member of the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department through 2015.
Thomas Perkins - Newport News FD & James City – Bruton VFD
Thomas is a firefighter/medic with the Newport News Fire Department and currently assigned to Station 10/C, "The Snake Pit". He is also the Training Lieutenant with the James City Bruton Volunteer Fire Department.
Tim Nunez - York County Fire and Life Rescue & Carrollton VFD
Tim started his fire service career in 2004 with Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department where he currently serves as a Fire Chief. He graduated from the South Side Regional Fire Academy in 2006. He is a career fireman for York County Fire and Life Safety where he is currently assigned to Station 2.
Jeremy Windley - Norfolk Fire Rescue & Smithfield VFD
Jeremy started his fire service career in 2009 with the City of Newport News Fire Department. He is now a firefighter with Norfolk Fire Rescue at Station 2. In 2011, Jeremy joined the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department and currently serves as a captain assisting with departmental training.
Charlie Kempton- Hampton Fire and Rescue & Smithfield VFD
Charlie is a Battalion Chief with Hampton Division of Fire/Rescue. He started his career in the City of Hampton as a volunteer in 1992 and was hired as a full time firefighter in 1996. He is currently assigned to Battalion 2 on B shift. He served on the HFD technical rescue team as one of the team leaders and as the team safety officer. He is the Assistant Chief of Operations with Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. His certifications include Fire Officer II, Instructor II, EMT-I as well as many technical rescue certifications. He serves as an instructor for the Tidewater Regional Fire Academy. Charlie is a STIHL safety instructor and a STIHL maintenance technician. He holds a BS from Columbia Southern University in Fire Science and is a Designated Fire Officer by the Center of Public Excellence.
Tommy Shaw- Philadelphia Fire Department
Tommy began his career in the fire service in his hometown of Liverpool, NY in 2001. A busy volunteer fire dept. in the northern Syracuse suburbs. In 2009, he was offered full time employment with Fayetteville Fire Dept. A small combo Dept. in the eastern Syracuse suburbs. Following graduation of the Utica Fire Academy, Tommy continued to work and train with the both departments. in 2011, he was offered full time employment with Norfolk Fire Rescue in Virginia. Tommy would serve 5 years in Norfolk in various companies within the city. In 2016, he was offered full time employment with the city of Philadelphia Fire Dept. where he is currently assigned to Engine Co. 18 in the Northeast section of the city.
Bryan Eldridge- Baltimore City Fire Department
Bryan grew up in a small town in Upstate NY just below the Canadian border in West Carthage NY. This is where Bryan started his fire service career volunteering in his home town. After graduating high school Bryan moved south to attend college in Syracuse NY where he achieved his Associates degree in Fire Protection. During the 2 years of college Bryan lived at Liverpool Volunteer Fire Department station # 3 as a live in. Bryan would attend class and then respond to calls all other hours of the day and night outside of classroom time. After graduating from Onondaga Community College Bryan wanted to further his experience and education so he moved to Berwyn Heights Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad Inc. which is located in Prince George's county MD. Bryan was a live-in member from 2009 - 2013. Bryan became an officer with Berwyn Heights in 2012 and is still currently an active member at the rank of Lieutenant which he has held since 2013. In late 2012 Bryan was hired as a firefighter with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue in Montgomery County MD where he was stationed at the special operations station. In the Fall of 2014 Bryan decided to leave Montgomery County and take a job offer with Baltimore City Fire Department as a firefighter where he is currently stationed at Engine 30 on the city’s west side. Bryan hopes and is in pursuit of climbing the ranks with Baltimore City in the years to come.
Zach Schleiffer - Charlotte Fire Department
Zach Schleiffer is with the Bonita Springs Fire Control and Rescue District in Bonita Springs, Florida and a member of Florida Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6 and is a volunteer with the Bladensburg Volunteer Fire Department. Zach is a “truck guy” through and through . Zach believes that the back bone of our trade is forged on the training ground and that there is no substitute for realistic and relevant training. Zach is a student of the craft who continues to work hard for THEM, the mission, and his crew. Zach is humbled to have been given the opportunity to work with you and pass on much of what his mentors have passed on to him.
Monty Coleman- Forest VFD Bedford County
Monty entered the Fire Service in August of 1989 with the Forest Volunteer Fire Department, in 2006 he was appointed to Battalion Chief of Special Operations Command for Bedford County Fire and Rescue. He is currently serving as the District Fire Chief at Forest VFD, and is an active instructor for Bedford County Fire Academy, and is the lead instructor for the Bedford County Technical Rescue School. Monty has been the recipient of the Bedford County Fire and Rescue Life Saving Meritorious Award in 2006 and 2015.
John Burruss - Charlottesville Fire Department ( Retired)
John experience in fire and rescue service spans more than 33 years. I'm a career master firefighter with substantial experience in emergency medical and rescue services. I'm particularly interested in heavy and technical rescue program instructional development, management and course delivery on the local, state and national level.
I've been actively involved in Emergency Services since 1980, combining both career and volunteer experience in both the fire and rescue fields. I wrote the vehicle extrication awareness, operations and technician level classes used by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs and the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads. I've presented at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC), North Carolina Fire and Rescue Instructor Conference, New Jersey Vehicle Extrication School, Nebraska Vehicle Extrication School, JEMS EMS Today Conference, Maryland’s Parascope EMS Conference, Virginia State EMS Symposium, Andy Frederick’s Training Days and have written articles for Fire Rescue Magazine and Virginia Fire News Magazine.
Andrew Zysk- Newport News Fire Department
Andrew is a 14 year member of the fire service starting as a volunteer with Protective Company #1 of the Fairmount (NY) Fire Department. In 2011, he became a career fireman with the Newport News Fire Department where he has spent his career in the 1st battalion. Currently assigned to Station # 2 in the city's east end, Andrew is also a member of the NNFD technical rescue team. He also instructs for Real Fire Training LLC focusing on engine and truck company operations.
Corey Carr - St Albans Fire Department & Pinch Volunteer Fire Department,WV
Corey began his fire service career at Tornado VFD. Corey is currently serving as Training Officer at The City of St. Albans Fire Department and Lieutenant at Pinch Volunteer Fire Department. He is also a Certified Instructor for West Virginia Public service training. Corey currently lives in Pinch, WV and is a active instructor throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Richie Gobble III- South Charleston Fire Department & Ripley Volunteer Fire Department, WV
Ritchie began his career as a volunteer with the Ripley VFD. Ritchie is currently working for the City of South Charleston Fire Department. Currently a certified fire fighter and an instructor for RESA.
Ritchie currently lives in Ripley WV and is actively instructing in multiple disciplines in the fire service throughout West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.
Ritchie still remains a student of the fire service!
Jerry Hackney- Retired Newport News Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Jerry is a retired Battalion Chief with the City of Newport News Fire Dept. He started his career in the Hampton Fire Department at Wythe Vol. Fire Co. in 1981. He was hired by the NNFD in 1983. While assigned to Co. 10, he served on the Technical Rescue Team and VA-TF2 from 1994-2003. Jerry holds an AAS in Fire Science from Tidewater Community College and a Bachelors in Fire Administration from Hampton University. Jerry is currently the Fire Chief of Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department.
Chris Puzzanghero- Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department
Chris is a Firefighter with the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department and has been with the department since 2011. He is currently assigned to Engine and Truck 425 in the Reston section of the county. He is a qualified Tiller Truck Tractor and Tiller driver, Aerial and Tower driver. He is also an Adjunct Instructor for Fairfax County’s Field Training Division, helping instruct and set up training scenarios for operational companies
Chris Marshall- Hampton Fire Department
City of Hampton Fire and Rescue for 17 years, VDFP instructor since 2008 specializing in Mayday, RIT, DPO, and Aerial programs. Member of VATF 2 as Hazmat specialist. Enjoy teaching hands-on programs to spread the knowledge that has been passed along to me so that everyone I encounter receives something I have learned to make themselves better. This is my 2nd year teaching in the truck school and look forward to many more.
Jeremy Asencio- Va. Beach Fire Department & Smithfield VFD
Jeremy started his fire service career volunteering in his hometown with the Cornwall-on-Hudson Fire Department in New York. He credits his foundation of aggressive basic firefighting to his early mentors from New York. While studying Fire Protection in college he was a live-in with the East Syracuse Fire Department. In 2014 he was hired by the City of Virginia Beach Fire Department and in 2015 joined the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department. He is currently assigned to Engine 2 in Virginia Beach and serves as a Lieutenant in Smithfield.
Harvey Mowery- Hampton Fire & Rescue
Harvey is a Lieutenant with Hampton Fire and Rescue. He started his career as a volunteer back in his hometown of Snyder County Pennsylvania, and became a full-time career firefighter in the City of Hampton in 2002. He is currently assigned to Station 10 Squad C Shift, and currently serving on the HFD technical rescue team as one of the team leaders. He is one of the developers for the STIHL Chainsaw Safety Operator and Maintenance Technician program for the City of Hampton Fire. A few of his certifications include Fire Officer II, Instructor II, CC EMTP as well as many technical rescue certifications. He is an adjunct instructor for the Department of Fire Programs. He holds an AS in Applied Science EMS Technician and is currently working on his BS from Columbia Southern University in Occupational Health and Safety.
David “Dave” English- Portsmouth Fire Department
Dave started in public safety with the City of Portsmouth in 1986 and served in law enforcement till beginning his fire career in 2003. During his time in Portsmouth, he has been assigned to Ladder 1 , Rescue 1, Technical Rescue, Training and the Fire Marshal’s Office. Dave has been a state instructor for Aerial Operations and the Fire Marshals Academy for the Dept of Fire Programs. He is currently assigned to Truck 1 and the Hazmat Team in Downtown Portsmouth.
Chief Donald Hayde- FDNY ( Retired)
Chief Hayde was appointed to the FDNY in 1977 and through his career worked on Ladder 16, Ladder 26, Lieutenant on Ladder 147, Ladder 111, Captain on Squad 1 and retired as a Rescue Battalion Chief in 2018. Has been a volunteer firefighter from 1977-present and a Instructor for Nassau Country Fire Service Academy from 1982-present. He has a AAS degree from Nassau Community College with a BA degree from Queens College. Chief served our country as a US Marine 1972-1975.
Richard Graulich -Norfolk Fire & Rescue/ Real Fire Training President, Co-Owner
Rich is the Co-founder and President of REaL Fire Training and has over 25 years in the fire service. He started off in the Orange, New Jersey area and with a small stent in James City County Fire in VA. Currently Rich is a Captain with Norfolk Fire Rescue assigned to an Engine Company. During his past 19 years in Norfolk he has spent all of his time on Engine and Ladder Companies. He has served three rotations to his Department’s Training Division, two of which he served as the Departmental and Regional Fire Academy Coordinator and one as the Departmental Training Division Coordinator. He is also an Adjunct Instructor for VDFP (Virginia Department of Fire Programs), since 2001, teaching many of the state’s operational and leadership courses. Rich has a BA in Economics and served as an officer in the Navy. During his time in the Navy he served as an Electronic Countermeasures Officer assigned to an air wing.
Jeremy Williams - Norfolk Fire Rescue / Real Fire Training, LLC
Jeremy Williams has over 17 years in the fire service and for the past 13 years he has worked for the City of Norfolk where he currently serves as a Captain assigned to the training division. He has served the majority of his career assigned to one of the cities Heavy Rescue Companies, but has also been assigned to the busiest ladder and engine companies with in the city. He serves as an adjunct instructor for the Regional and Departmental Fire Academies. Jeremy is a member of the Regional Technical Rescue Team and also serves as a Rescue Specialist on FEMA’s Virginia Task Force 2 US&R Team.
Prior to working for Norfolk Jeremy worked as a Shipboard Fire Systems Technician and Inspector. He also served in the US Navy as the Ship’s Fire Marshall onboard the USS McFaul (DDG-74). Jeremy holds Degrees in Fire Science, Fire and Emergency Management, and is completing Master's course work in Public Administration.
Jeremy spent over 20 years in the sports arena and was lucky enough to play collegiate level football at West Virginia State College. Along with this he spent over 10 years coaching football at a high school and collegiate level.
Jarrod Sergi -Norfolk Fire Rescue / Real Fire Training, LLC
Jarrod Sergi is a Captain and 18 your student of the fire service. The last 14 have been in Norfolk VA. During his time at Norfolk has been assigned as a firefighter one of the city”s busiest engines, a ladder company lieutenant, and a recruit academy coordinator. He is currently assigned to an Engine 1 Downtown. Prior to working for Norfolk he served in the Navy as a damage controlman and a search and rescue swimmer. Jarrod is a state instructor for both VDFP and the NFA focusing on MAYDAY and strategy/tactics. He has assisted in the development of several local and regional training programs that covered engine and ladder company operations and fire dynamics. He is a graduate of the NFA EFO program and has been featured in several fire service publications. He has presented at both Firehouse Expo and FDIC.
Chip Johnson - Chesterfield Fire/EMS & Real Fire Training, LLC
Chip Johnson is a firefighter with Chesterfield Fire & EMS. He is currently assigned to Truck 3 in the Bensley area of Chesterfield County. Chip started his fire service career as a volunteer with in the same agency at Station 11. Chip was hired in 2000 as a career fire fighter. Chip has been assigned to both engine and truck companies within the organization and is an active member of the Central Virginia Technical Rescue Team. Chip is also a member of Powhatan Volunteer Fire Department Company 4. He is currently assigned to the training group with Powhatan Co. 4 in developing and providing real world training with small amounts of available money and facilities. Chip is a second generation firefighter following in his father’s footsteps who retired from Henrico Division of Fire after almost 30 years of service.
Mike Rock- Va. Beach Fire Department/ Real Fire Training, LLC
Rock started in the fire service in 1999 in Chesapeake FD, after graduating from ODU, cum laude, with a B.S. in Physical Education and minor in Management. In 2002 Rock was hired by Virginia Beach Fire Department in 2002, where he currently works.
Rock has spent his career VBFD's busier engine and ladder companies. Rock is now a Captain assigned to Ladder 7. Ladder 7 is part of the VBFD Technical Rescue Team as well as the Regional Technical Rescue Team
Rock also serves as a FEMA Rescue Specialist with VATF-2 and is an field training instructor (FTI) for the VBFD. Along with this he is a adjucnt instructor for the VBFD Fire Acdemy and is a member of the VBFD Operational Planning Team since its inception.
Brandon Dommel- Norfolk Fire & Rescue/ Real Fire Training, LLC
Brandon has almost 30 years of fire service experience that ranges from volunteer, combination, and career agencies as well as working in environments that range from rural to urban. He began his fire service career in 1986 in Southern Manheim Township Volunteer Fire Company located in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1986. He began as a junior fire fighter and progressed through the years to become an Assistant Chief of the Company. Throughout the 90’s Brandon also served as a member of Bladensburg Company 9 in Prince George’s County, MD.
In 1996 he began his career in Norfolk, VA where he has spent the majority of his time as a fire fighter and Captain riding Engine 2 on the busy Downtown streets of the city until being promoted to Battalion Chief if 2013. He has been assigned to the Fire Training Division on 2 occasions overseeing 5 Fire Academies, also serving as the Assistant Training Officer for the department during his tenure in the Training Division. He remains an instructor for the Departmental and Regional Fire Academies. Brandon also serves as an adjunct State Instructor for both the Virginia Department of Fire Programs and National Fire Academy with a focus on Strategy/Tactics as well as RIT and Mayday programs throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Tim Austin- FDNY/Real Fire Training, LLC
Tim has been a firefighter for 18 years. He started his fire service career in the navy as a damage control man, after the military he volunteered with the town of Madison, Wisconsin. He started in the FDNY in 2008 and was assigned to Engine Company 83 for five years until being moved to Ladder Company 29 in which he has been for the last five years. Tim also has been an instructor for Real Fire Training, LLC since 2015 and is married with one daughter.