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A Conversation with the NFA Superintendent

This episode of The USFA Podcast features Superintendent Eriks Gabliks discussing diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and getting National Fire Academy (NFA) training closer to fire/EMS stakeholders. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell also provides an update on new initiatives at the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA).

Posted: April 21, 2022 | Updated: March 31, 2023

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Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell also provides an update on new initiatives at the U.S. Fire Administration.

Photo of EFOP students at NFA

Listen online 33:12

Photo of EFOP students at NFA


Estimated 22 min reading time.

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell
Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell,
U.S. Fire Administrator
Eriks Gabliks
Eriks Gabliks,
NFA Superintendent

Welcome to The USFA Podcast, the official podcast of the USFA. I’m your host, Teresa Neal. This month we have the opportunity to hear about some exciting new initiatives from the U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and learn about the National Fire Academy.

What is the NFA? It’s the country’s preeminent federal fire training and education institution. The NFA works to enhance the education and ability of fire and emergency services and allied professionals to deal more effectively with fire and related emergencies.

It was established in 1973 with the goal to provide a national focus for the nation’s fire problem and to promote a comprehensive program with adequate funding to reduce life and property loss from fire. This is accomplished through curriculum development and course evaluations for the fire service personnel.

It also offers important management courses such as all-hazard emergency incident management, emergency organization leadership, and management and executive development for those interested in elevating in their fire service profession. The academy offers courses at the National Emergency Training Center (NETC) in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and online.

Training is a critical component of the work done at USFA. The NFA not only helps train the future leadership of the fire service; it also ensures that these professionals remain knowledgeable about new concepts in the field.

Teresa Neal

Before we hear from Eriks Gabliks, the superintendent of NFA, let’s check in with the U.S. fire administrator.

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

Wow, I can tell you that we are moving. From the time we came in, when I said we’re going to be mission driven, I think we have begun to refocus and be mission driven. I think everybody here is excited about some of the changes.

We have had the opportunity for a full evaluation of the USFA. I’m not sure that that’s ever been done before. Looking at how we’re structured, we’re looking at all of the different divisions and branches and making sure that all of the programs that we have, all of the classes that we offer, are all focused on our mission to strengthen and support our fire and emergency services. That has been an exciting adventure as we continue on that path.

One of the other things that I will tell you is that everybody is coming back to the workplace. We began that in early March actually. So, meeting people face-to-face for the first time was pretty exciting and getting to know the men and women here at USFA.

So, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last few months of being able to actually have face-to-face conversations and be able to brainstorm when we’re all in the same room. I think that has been really effective, and contributes really to the emotional attachment, I think, of people’s commitment.

I think all of our staff commitment to our mission and when they can see each other and we see how each other is motivated, it really helps perpetuate our energy. So, that’s been an exciting ride so far.

Teresa Neal

You’ve started a new campaign, Fire Is Everyone’s Fight® — Step Up for Fire Safety. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

So, I’m going to give you a little background on that and how we actually arrived at that campaign. So, as you all might remember, in early 2022, January, we had some large-scale fires with double-digit fire fatalities, and given that, we began to think we’ve got to do something different. Because what you may not know is that USFA has 1 performance metric that it has to report to Congress. So, it’s a congressionally mandated metric that we’re held accountable for, and that is fire fatalities in the U.S.

Each year, the USFA has to deliver fire fatality data in the U.S. and report out on whether or not we’ve done anything to change that. As of even today, we don’t have real control over that metric. We don’t have any real control over how to stop fire fatalities, and so I wanted to change that.

And I think, again, status quo is not an acceptable place to be. And so, in looking at that mission, we had to do something different. And, you know, we are tracking fire fatalities that are reported in the media, so we have staff that do that, and they do a great job, and by mid-March we had 657 fatalities. By now, it is astronomically greater than that, and that’s unacceptable.

And these are not in the media. Like the 2 big ones were, but they are being reported in 1s and 2s and 3s, and they add up. And that to me is a disaster. So, I wanted to figure out how do we change the game? And one of the things that we can control, or help our messaging, is to bring together our national organizations. Because one of the things that I’ve said early on is that anybody who is going to listen to our fire safety messages has already listened to them.

They are already dealing with smoke alarms, and they are already listening — how to place space heaters, and they’re already doing things about how to learn how to get out of their home. But there’s a whole population that you know are not listening or they’re not privy to those messages. So, what do we do to change that? How can we get the media — large-scale national media — to pay attention to us and to this problem? And so, what we thought about is pulling all the national organizations, all of our fire service partners together, [and] forming a communication alliance.

So, we have stood up that alliance. It’s called the Fire and Life Safety Communicators Alliance. We have participation from all of our national organizations. We welcome others to join that alliance. We want to make sure that we are all focused on the same theme every month.

This doesn’t mean that we’re all going to report the same messaging, because different organizations have different perspectives; however, that we are all focused on the same theme.

For example, in April, we all looked at smoke. What are the dangers of smoke? It’s toxic. Where does it come from? How does it move? What is the firefighter’s PPE to protect them against smoke? These are all the perspectives, but all around a theme of smoke. Perhaps the next theme is wildland, for example.

So, these are the ways that we can all collaborate. That may raise the level of attention we get in the media. If we have consistency in our message, it will, I believe, elevate our longevity for keeping the message large scale, wide stream, much longer.

The other thing that we’ve done is engage FEMA, what I call the FEMA machine. Because FEMA has its own mechanism for delivering messages to communities. As you know, Teresa, here at USFA we’ve brought in the communication staff. You yourself are engaging with the community engagement group at FEMA, and we’re engaging with the faith-based messaging group at FEMA. And now, that has been elevated to the Department of Homeland Security. And so we are really trying to make sure that our life safety messages, our fire safety messages, are in the FEMA and Homeland Security messages as well. Because we believe that this is part of preventing disasters and protecting our homeland.

Teresa Neal

It’s very exciting to have all of the organizations together speaking on the same theme and, like you said, moving the goal posts a little bit and letting us see this is how real change will happen. And we have to interrupt people in their normal lives — they are used to doing things their way and they, like you said, we are speaking to the choir most of the time. People who are going to listen to us have listened to us, and they’ve made changes. But those who don’t listen to us — how do we get the information to them?

I think working all together, getting all of our heads together is a great way to start seeing that.

But the other thing I would like to talk to you about is this idea of a summit for all the fire service leaders. We have different ways that we bring people together, but I haven’t seen in some time where all of these leaders get together and really say “This is the issue. Now, you might see it from this angle, you might see from this angle, but we’re putting it out on the table so that we understand everybody’s angle on how to move forward.”

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

That’s a great question. In the legislation, [the] 1974 legislation, that actually stood up on the U.S. Fire Administration and many of the aspects that you know all of you are familiar with. Part of that is a little-known section of that legislation, enables the U.S. fire administrator to hold a conference. And to anybody’s knowledge that I’ve spoken with, that’s never been done. So, we are, for the first time this year, going to have a U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit. Now, we’re trying to expand it beyond the USFA. In other words, we’re going to have a “by invitation” to our fire service partner organizations. It will be a by-invitation event with the principals plus one.

It will be a roundtable discussion. And we are working very hard to elevate this to the president. We want the White House involved in this and a fire prevention and control summit. We believe we have to bring people to the table. We have to make sure our decision-makers are listening, that they hear the details, that we all know to be reality. And we want to bring this forward.

… we are, for the first time this year, going to have a U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit. … It will be a roundtable discussion. And we are working very hard to elevate this to the president. We want the White House involved in this and a fire prevention and control summit.

So, in October of this year, we’re going to be hosting here on campus at the NETC, at the home of the National Fire Academy, such a summit. Invitations will be forthcoming to those organizations. There will be a portion on the back of the by-invitation event that will be public. It will be virtual because it will be hosted on campus, but everyone will be able to tune in and hear more about the summit and the conversations that are taking place, the presentations that are taking place, as part of this first U.S. Fire Administration Summit.

I will also tell you, is that those who are familiar with the Truman Foundation will know that 75 years ago in 1947, President Truman held such a summit. They at that time initiated some of the actions that led to the “America Burning” PDF report, that led to the creation of the USFA and our National Data Center and many other things.

Here we are 75 years later. So, we are very hopeful that by us hosting this conference, we get the White House involvement. And now we have the Biden Administration who steps up and says, “This now is my legacy,” that we have fire prevention and control, and [that] we create a brand-new path for us to engage and stop these fire fatalities and stop the disasters that we all know that are taking place locally, every single day.

Teresa Neal

I have one other question; you are the data queen. So, do you have anything you would like to speak about around the subject of data?

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

We always have to talk about data because everything that I’ve even mentioned so far, whether it is messaging, whether it is stopping these fire fatalities, whether it is education, whether it is our response capability and capacity at the local level; all of these things — including firefighter health and safety — all of this revolves around data. If we do not have data to inform us, how do we make decisions? How do we drive forward without the data to do so? As I have given you a little preview in a previous podcast, we are looking at our data standard. We have to streamline it, so that is in process even as we speak.

We are bringing together fire service partner representatives to the table so that we can create a new data standard that is streamlined [so] that we can reduce some of the human error that goes into the data entry. Because we’re going to leverage technology to capture data for most of this rather than having firefighters continue to put in data when I can get it somewhere else. We are looking to rebuild a cloud-based system that will leverage this new data standard that’s being created. Once we begin to transition departments over, I want departments to be ready because this is not going to be an easy task.

It is going to be frustrating for many of you, but it is something that we must do. And if it were easy for us, someone else would have already done this. So, we have to move forward. We’re all going to duck our heads, and we’re going to have to move to a new, much more agile system of gathering our data, so that it is much more quality data, it is much more timely data, so that it is usable on a day-to-day basis locally, it’s usable for our states to make decisions and deploy resources, and it is usable for our nation to understand the issues that we have in the fire service, whether it is about our overall capabilities, capacities, firefighter health and safety, or the overall fire fatalities as we have talked about. These are the kinds of things that are going to be much more data driven as we move forward.

So, I’m excited about the possibilities of this system. At some point we will talk about the decommissioning of the legacy system that you’re all familiar with, that, again, has not been touched since 1995. And so, at some point, maybe we hold a memorial, as I’ve mentioned before, as we decommission the legacy system. [We’re] not going to lose any of that data. It’s all going to be certainly preserved. But we must change the way we do our data so that we can gain the intelligence and the insights in the data by mining it [in a] much more quality, much more timely way.

Teresa Neal

Is there anything else you’d like us to know? Anything else that’s on your mind?

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

Stay tuned because USFA is excited about the future. We are energized; we are ready to come together with our fire service partners to really make a difference. We have a lot to do. One of the things that I really want us all to think about — and I’m coming back to the fire fatalities again — is the inequity in the fire fatality situation. Because one of the things we’ve got to address is sprinklers in our residential environment. Because right now, to have affordable living, it is often unsafe living.

So, if we have people who have to choose between those 2 situations, either affordable or safe, then you know that is not an appropriate choice to make. We need safe and affordable housing because we can no longer tolerate this inequity and the fire fatalities, where the majority — overwhelming majority — are people of color and people that are poor. We have to do this better as a nation.

So, I am going to continue to call on our fire service partners. I’m going to continue to lead the USFA to step up in this regard. We have to change the way that we handle fire safety and the way that we lead going forward.

Teresa Neal

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. I know that your first podcast was very popular.

Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell

My pleasure. Thank you so much, Teresa.

Teresa Neal

Hi, Eriks. Welcome and thank you for joining us. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Eriks Gabliks

Sure. My name is Eriks Gabliks, and it’s currently my privilege to serve as the superintendent of the National Fire Academy. So, before I came here, I started my career as a volunteer firefighter in Adelphia, New Jersey, located in Monmouth County. So that’s central Jersey for people that wonder what part of the state that’s in. And if you’re more interested, Exit 7A off the Garden State Parkway or the New Jersey Turnpike.

So, then I moved out to Oregon when I was married, lived in Oregon for 30 years, served with Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue as a volunteer. Also, at the city of Dallas Fire and EMS Department as a volunteer, and then served full-time with the State Training Organization. And I retired there after 30 years, the last 10 as director of the Public Safety Academy, which also oversees certification. So, we served about 41,000 public and private safety constituents of which 13,000 were firefighters, of which 80% were volunteers.

So, while I was a state training director, I always wanted to make sure that the National Fire Academy was appropriately staffed and funded; so, I was active through the State Training Directors Association known as NAFTD, North American Fire Training Directors, and then also was on the Board of Visitors for a number of years. And one of the things that the Board of Visitors does, it’s established by [the] Congressional Act and it reports to the president, and it gives an annual report about the National Fire Academy, not only training programs but also their brick-and-mortar such as the facility.

So, [I am] also an EFO, Executive Fire Officer, graduate. So, I have spent a lot of time here on campus attending classes as well as region delivery. So, something that is very near and dear to my heart, something that I’ve benefited from personally and professionally, and it’s a great opportunity to be in this new role, [is] basically giving back and serving as a superintendent.

Teresa Neal

So, what first inspired you to come to the National Fire Academy?

Eriks Gabliks

So, I was very fortunate, and I think much like many of the listeners, my first exposure to the National Fire Academy was not in Emmitsburg. My first exposure to the National Fire Academy was through a 2-day class delivered at the Monmouth County Fire Academy, where it was an instructional design class. I went to that class; I thought it was great. Eventually one of my friends said, “I’m going to the state weekend here in Emmitsburg, on campus. Do you wanna come along?” So, I signed up for New Jersey weekend, came to another 2-day class, and I was hooked.

So that was my first exposure to the campus; a beautiful facility, I learned a lot, networked with people at that time from across New Jersey because it was a state weekend, but something that I really found very useful. And then I continued to apply for classes here on campus throughout my career.

Teresa Neal

And you became the superintendent during the first year of the pandemic. So how did the pandemic affect training?

Eriks Gabliks

So, it’s a great question. So, I was able to start and finish my career in Oregon with the pandemic. So, we shut down training for a number of weeks in Oregon until we could figure out how we would really resume in the new normal, being very focused on health and safety from trying to mitigate the virus or the pandemic within our health and safety guidelines. And then I came here to Emmitsburg in November when we had suspended training for approximately 6 months, with the understanding that we would resume providing training here on campus at some point, but when it was safe to do so.

So, what that allowed me to do is to not only be involved working with our maintenance operation support staff, MOSS, on their health and safety guidelines, but also figure out how would we apply our guidelines to a national audience. So, because the students that come here represent all 50 states and even international at some times, we wanted to make sure that our protocols were not only adequate but also exceeded the expectations of the local health safety guidelines as well as CDC.

But also, we wanted to make sure that the men and women applying for classes knew that we were serious about our business, and we would do what we can to ensure a healthy and safe learning environment. So, we were able to do that. We have been providing training for just under a year now, under our health and safety protocols, which have changed a number of times. So now, we require all of our students to be vaccinated. So that’s required to come on campus. That’s been well received; that’s allowed us to increase the number of students and the number of offerings.

But again, we know that there are some people that can’t be vaccinated for whatever reason, who are not able to come to our classes right now. So, what we’re hoping is, as the guidelines are updated and we have more flexibility, they’ll be able to join us again. But right now, we’re moving forward with everybody being vaccinated. It’s worked out really well. The students, the instructors, our staff appreciate it, and that’s kind of where we’re at.

The other benefit that I had from coming on board during the pandemic was I actually got to meet all of our employees one-on-one, individually, to get to know what they do, what they do for the organization, some of the challenges they have, their vision for the future, and that probably wouldn’t have happened if we were in full swing during training. So, there were some pluses as well as some minuses, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It was a great time to come on board.

And what I’ve learned from the one-on-ones is that really our staff here are passionate about the mission of the National Fire Academy, which is serving our career, volunteer, fire and EMS providers across the country. What was also interesting as I learned about our staff is that we have people that have been here for 20, 30, 40, even 50 years, working at the National Emergency Training Center and supporting all of our stakeholders. So, it’s pretty neat that you get to see that kind of a workforce that’s committed about the mission.

Teresa Neal

And can you tell us about the programs offered at NFA?

Eriks Gabliks

Sure. So, the NFA, the National Fire Academy, offers programs more than just in Emmitsburg, Maryland. So let me start by our on-campus program. So, we’re located about 15 miles south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so that’s a good indicator from a map standpoint. We’re in a small town called Emmitsburg, Maryland. We’re located on an old college campus here in Emmitsburg, which serves as our footprint for our training programs offered here in Emmitsburg.

So, we have a number of areas that we offer classes in; so that includes incident management, community risk reduction, fire prevention, fire inspection, hazardous materials, leadership, supervision, training development, emergency medical services, and et cetera. So, we have a series of core classes that we offer here, but we are not trying to compete with our state and local partners.

So, the classes that we offer here you really won’t find anywhere else. So, we’re here to support our local partners, and our state partners, and not supplant, or, you know, do what they’re doing. So, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel; they do a really good job with what they do, and we do a really good job with kind of our mission. But in addition to the Emmitsburg classes, we also have great partnerships across the country with our state training academies. So, each one of them receives 9 2-day classes a year from the National Fire Academy. We also bolster that with 6-day off-campus classes that they find places to host for us, so we bring the class to them. The state training programs also deliver NFA classes for us in their respective states. And then we also have our online programs.

In fiscal year 2021, the National Fire Academy reached 90,000 students through its programs.

So last year, even though it was a pandemic, we reached 90,000 participants through National Fire Academy programs, both in-person here on campus, in our state delivery systems, and virtually. So, we’re pretty excited about that. And once again, we want to make sure that the NFA is accessible to everyone across the country, and we know that not everybody can travel to get to Emmitsburg, Maryland, so we want to try to do what we can to get an NFA class to them. So that’s either through a state delivery or through a virtual opportunity.

Teresa Neal

That’s pretty impressive, Eriks. So, who should apply for these courses?

Eriks Gabliks

So that’s a great question. And one of the things that I tell people, that while the name is National Fire Academy, that’s kind of misleading because most people think when they hear “fire academy,” they think of a fire training center with a burn building, with a number of fire engines and fire trucks, ladder trucks and those kinds of things. And that’s the furthest away from what you’ll find here at the National Fire Academy. So, this organization created under the Fire Prevention and Control Act is just shy of 50 years old. So, we’re not a very old agency as far as federal government is concerned, but an important one. And when the National Fire Academy was envisioned in a Fire Prevention and Control Act, the vision was to be, if you will, a service academy-type model; so, a West Point Annapolis, a Colorado Springs, but for the fire service.

So, we are here to develop current and future leaders in fire and emergency medical services. So, the other thing that I hear a lot is that, “Well, I’m not a firefighter, can I come to the National Fire Academy?” And the answer is yes. You don’t have to be a firefighter to come to the NFA; you do need to be involved in the fire and EMS service. So, we have classes on budgeting, on data, on community risk reduction. So, you don’t have to be a sworn firefighter, or a certified firefighter to come here; you can be assigned to your agency an important function such as budgeting, or administration, or community risk reduction, and we have classes for you. So, the easy thing to think about is just like a college catalog where you have a number of courses to look at, the National Fire Academy is very similar. Our catalog is online. It lists the classes that we have available, it lists the dates that they’re available, it lists what the prerequisites are, so we list who the audience is. So, you are competing against other people in the U.S. to be enrolled in the program.

The other thing that’s pretty exciting is that we do not charge for anything we do. So, the National Fire Academy is free of charge; so, whether you’re from Guam, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Colorado, California, Connecticut, Florida, you name it, the National Fire Academy offers you free training here on campus. So, if you’re accepted to attend a class here, once our admissions people send you the letter, they’ll give you details about getting here, but we will reimburse you for your travel, we will provide lodging for you on campus, we’ll provide you with a world-class training experience, and your cost is to pay for your meals while you’re here and your time to be here. So other than that, the federal government covers everything, and that is basically a return in your taxes.

Teresa Neal

So, what is your vision for the future of the National Fire Academy?

Eriks Gabliks

So, we have a couple of things that we’re working on. One is that we need to increase our diversity, equity, inclusion amongst our students, instructors and our staff population. So, we want to see more women in our programs. We want to see more fire/EMS personnel of color enrolled in our programs and actively engaged in our classes. We’d like to see the same thing with our staff, with our instructor pool. So, we’re actively working with our partners such as National Association Hispanic Firefighters, Black Chief Officers Conference, Women in Fire, and we’re reaching out to them to ask them to share our opportunities with their members. So that’s been one of those initial successes that we have, but we can’t rest on our laurels; we want to keep working on that and seeing more of those underrepresented communities here on campus, if you will.

… we need to increase our diversity, equity, inclusion amongst our students, instructors and our staff population. So, we want to see more women in our programs. We want to see more fire/EMS personnel of color enrolled in our programs and actively engaged in our classes. We’d like to see the same thing with our staff, with our instructor pool.

The other thing is realizing that time is money and that not everybody can come to Emmitsburg, so how do we get the National Fire Academy closer to all of our stakeholders across the country? So, I mentioned the classes we offer with the state partners. We want to build more capacity there and do more classes on a state-by-state basis. We also want to increase our virtual presence and have more online classes. I think what we’ve seen during the pandemic is that people now have the opportunity to take online classes like never before, but what we also are very realistic about is that not every class is suited for an online delivery. So, we can’t do an incident management class where we’re simulating, for example, a building collapse, or a nursing home on fire, a lumber mill on fire, virtually. We want those students here on campus so they could be in the sim lab.

The same is true in our fire investigation curriculum, an amazing hands-on program that we have in partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Our ATF friends have instructors here on campus, and we have one of the nation’s premier fire investigation classes here in Emmitsburg, which is hands-on. So, we can’t replicate that virtually. But what we can do is offer some of the prerequisite courses or the building block classes virtually. So, in fire investigation, we do a 16-hour fire investigation basics class that we offer through Zoom. It’s a very basic platform, but it works to get that message out, and the feedback from the students has been great. And not only have we reached thousands of students through that 2-day class, we have also reached career and volunteer fire and EMS providers in communities that are rural, meaning they’re far away from a metro area, and they, for the first time, have taken an NFA class. So, we want to do more there, but we also realize that we still have communities across the country that still struggle to have reliable internet. So, while virtual is a place where we want to grow, we also know that some of our partners still don’t have access to it. So, our vision is to really, not only increase our opportunities here on campus, but also do more off campus and make it available to everybody.

Teresa Neal

And so how does USFA plan to achieve this, do you think?

Eriks Gabliks

So USFA constantly is looking at our delivery platform. So, things that we never thought about 2 years ago. For example, Zoom. We’re in the Zoom world now as are other agencies. We now have a learning management system called Blackboard. So that’ll give us a capacity that we never had before; that’ll allow us to do more virtual classes, more hybrid classes, so that’ll give us a bigger presence. But it’s also kind of pivoting the way we did work, where, you know, we were very much like a lot of training organizations where we expected people to be in a classroom, and that’s the way we would train them. We’re providing them with professional development opportunities. So, our staff has done a great job kind of pivoting to this blended version where some classes are in person, some classes are online, and some classes are both in person and online.

So, I think for us, it’s continuing to kind of build capacity in that area, but also to continue to listen to our fire and EMS providers across the country on what they would like to take as far as training opportunities. So, we want to build our diversity, equity, inclusion, recruitment and retention class. So that’s something that we don’t do now, but we have on the list. We also understand other classes of importance such as active shooter, fire as a weapon — for example, civil unrest — and fire/EMS response to those. So those are just 2 areas that we’re looking at developing classes that we’re hearing from our stakeholders. But again, making sure that we’re delivering what people want, making sure we’re not reinventing the wheel by providing something that local or state agencies are, but really kind of staying in our niche, but also supporting our locals as much as we can.

Teresa Neal

Great. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Eriks Gabliks

I mentioned the National Fire Academy is free of charge, so don’t forget that. The National Fire Academy also is for all career and volunteer fire and EMS providers across the country. Depending on what group I go and visit, if I meet with career firefighters, they’ll say that the National Fire Academy is all about volunteers. If I meet volunteers, it’s all about career. And the answer is that we’re here for all of our fire and EMS providers across the country. So, take a look at our catalog, take a look at our opportunities; if you see something you’re interested in, please apply. We do have 2-year programs called Managing Officer and Executive Officer. So, once you’re accepted to those programs, you’re gonna be coming on and off campus for a number of classes over a 2-year period. Again, those are well-received programs and well respected, so I’d encourage you to take a look at that.

The other thing is to take a look at our course vacancies list, because there are times — and I kind of call it the airline model where we have a class scheduled but we might have some empty seats and we hate having empty seats. So, if you look at NFA course vacancies — and all you have to do is Google that — that’ll bring up a list of classes that we have vacancies in. You can apply online because that’s how we accept applications. And within 72 hours you’ll find out if you’ve been accepted to that course. Now you won’t have access to all the courses that we offer, but you will see classes that have openings in it, and we love to see you here on campus. And what we have heard from our alumni is that once you come to the National Fire Academy, you’ll be back.

The other thing that we also know is still in 2021, 2022, we are still, we the National Fire Academy, are one of the best-kept secrets in the American fire service. There are people that don’t know that we have a National Fire Academy, they don’t know that it’s free of charge, they don’t know about our opportunities. So, as you’re listening to this podcast, please take a look at our catalog, see what’s available to you, come to a class here on campus, come to a class virtually, come to a state delivery class. But the other thing is, share our work with others that you’re mentoring, because most people that have come here, came here because somebody in their fire and EMS agency told them they should come here. So, we’re hoping all of the listeners will do the same thing. So, they may see a class on here that might be great for somebody that they’re mentoring, say, “you should take a look at this,” et cetera, et cetera. So, we’d love to see everybody here. So, thank you for letting me spend some time with you this afternoon, and I appreciate everything.

Teresa Neal

Thank you so much.

We would like to share another resource available at USFA, the National Emergency Training Center’s library. The library supports research, teaching and learning for the fire service, EMS and emergency management fields. It’s located at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland, and serves students and instructors at USFA’s National Fire Academy, FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute as well as staff and researchers across the world. NETC’s library catalog includes library books, e-books and 150,000 citations to journal articles. Students can reach out to a librarian online and in person for assistance with research or subscribe to 3 research databases. Researchers can request materials through interlibrary loan. For more information, visit the USFA website at or email the library at

Thank you for listening to The USFA Podcast and thank you to our guests, Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and Eriks Gabliks for joining us today.

Want to learn more about the National Fire Academy? Visit You can learn more about NFA’s online courses, which include online instructor-led and self-study options.

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On next month’s episode, we’ll be talking about the threat of wildfires and the wildland urban interface and how to create a community wildfire protection plan. Until then, you can visit us at or @USFire on social media, but until then, stay safe.

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