Instructor Bios

Michael Allora - @MichaelAllora

Served for 25 years in the fire/EMS service in Clifton, N.J., where he retired as a deputy fire chief. He is a mental health first aid instructor, national trainer, and content developer of the new MHFA Fire / EMS Module. He holds an M.A.S. from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He is a graduate of the National Fire Academy’s EFO Program. He has presented at numerous conferences including FDIC, FRI, NPDS, EFO Symposium, and Natcon18. He has delivered the full MHFA at the Virginia Fire Rescue Conference, as well as others. DC Allora has spoken about MHFA at Congressional Staff Briefings in Washington, D.C. In 2017, he was recognized by the N.J. Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma for his work with mental health in public safety audiences. 

Andrew Barron

Over the past 27 years, Andrew Barron has been a firefighter/paramedic, field training officer, preceptor, company officer, EMS manager, clinical educator (hospital-based), college-based educator, and EMS training officer for fire departments and transport agencies. Andrew has currently and previously held instructorships in every discipline we use in Fire/EMS. Andrew currently works for Lee County EMS, which is known throughout the State of Florida as a leading agency for patient treatment, clinician level patient care and science-based/data-driven treatment modalities.

Jim Bishop

Jim Bishop joined the fire service in 1984, works for Broward County Sheriff’s Office Department of Fire Rescue and worked nine years in the training division and currently is the captain on E37 in Lauderdale Lakes. He holds an A.S. Degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Administration from Barry University. He is an instructor III, fire inspector, LFTI, incident safety officer and a fire officer II, as well as a lead instructor at the Broward Fire Academy for minimum standards.

Paul Blake

Captain Paul D. Blake is an EMS supervisor, with Miami Dade Fire-Rescue. He has held this position for the past nine years.  Part of his assignment is to respond to mass casualty incidents and train his personnel in mass casualty incident response.  Paul first got involved in the fire service in 1985 as a volunteer firefighter in Cumberland, Rhode Island. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree from Barry University. He has a wife and three children and resides in southern Miami-Dade County.

Dave Casey, EFO, MPA, CFO - dave@ascendleadershipllc.com

Dave served as the superintendent of the Florida State Fire College, and a similar role for Louisiana’s municipal firefighters.  Dave is the lead author of the IAFC/NFPA/ISFSI textbook “Live Fire Training Principles & Practice” and coauthor of the officer leadership video series “The Right Seat – Company Officer Development Beyond the Textbook," as well as four other fire engineering videos. He served as the fire chief of Clay County, Fla. for 11 years and was previously with Sunrise Fire Rescue (career) and concurrently with the Plantation F.D. (Volunteer). He is the co-owner of Ascend Leadership, a promotional testing and officer development company. 

Armando Castaneda

Armando Castaneda, Jr. is a seven-year employee with Flagler County Fire Rescue, where he currently serves as a lieutenant on Engine 16. Armando is a member of the Flagler County Technical Rescue Team, FL-USAR Team 312, the Flagler County Wildfire Mitigation team, as well as the county’s multi-agency Critical Incident Stress Management team. With a focus on conventional forcible entry and search techniques, Armando has a heavy involvement in most of the training in Flagler County. He also has the unique opportunity to serve, along with several other Flagler County firefighters, as a lead instructor at Flagler Palm Coast High School’s pilot program, aimed at developing future firefighters through student development during four years of classwork.

 

Armando’s previous experience as a regional training director for a northeastern-based corporate chain allowed him to hone his skills as an effective instructor and public speaker at a very young age. Over the course of 10 years, he spent much of his time developing and implementing standardized training programs in a corporate setting, until he found his true passion in the fire service. Armando, along with several of his local Flagler brothers, currently has the privilege of being frequently sent to various trainings around the state, with the purpose of developing more extensive training programs back in Flagler County. He has also been happily married for 15 years and is a proud father of one.

 

Stephen Cox

Stephen Cox has 13 years on the job currently serving Flagler Beach Fire Department, currently assigned as the Battalion 11 Captain. He is a paramedic, fire officer 2 , fire instructor 1, and is a marine rescue operator. He received Public Safety Individual of the Year in 2016, Firefighter of the Year in 2013, and had a lifesaving award in 2015. He loves teaching and learning about VES, Aerial Ops, Truck Co/Support Co Operations, Firefighter Survival and RIT. Lt. Cox focuses on skills and teaches skills dependent on staffing models out there. Stephen originated this page after having a hunger for knowledge in the fire service and realized the worst information out there is information unshared.

Joseph DeVito - @joed911- jdevito911@yahoo.com

Joseph DeVito is a fire captain/paramedic in SW Florida with 20 years in public safety. He is a State of Florida Fire and EMS instructor and is Level 1 IR certified. He has had the honor of presenting at Firehouse World, Firehouse Expo, Metro Atlanta Fire Fighters Conference, and the Great Florida Fire School. His articles have been published in Firehouse Magazine and on Firehouse.com. Joe is a proud member of the Florida Gulf Coast Fools, Kill the Flashover Project, and teaches fire behavior and thermal imaging using the Max Fire Box. Please feel free to contact him at jdevito911@yahoo.com or @joed911 on social media. Stay safe and keep learning. 

Al Duffy

Al has 37 years of experience in fire service starting as a volunteer firefighter on Long Island, N.Y. in 1981 and then becoming a firefighter in Southwest Florida for the past 32 years. Currently a Battalion Chief with the North Collier Fire Control and Rescue District, which is located in Naples Florida, his education includes: an associate degree in fire science, Florida State Certified Fire Officer II, Fire Instructor II, Fire Safety Inspector II, Pump Operator, Hazardous Materials Technician, Safety Officer, and Emergency Medical Technician.

David Ennis

David has 38 years in the fire service and has held ranks of Engineer, Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief and Fire Marshal/Division Chief. He retired after 30 years with St. Cloud Fire Rescue including 13 years as Fire Marshal for the City of St. Cloud . He is the Past President of the Florida State Fire Fighters Association and has held all board positions except Secretary/Treasure. He is currently the 2nd Vice President FSFA

Derek Foss - @DerekFoss

Derek Foss is currently a lieutenant with Southern Manatee Fire Rescue in sunny Bradenton, Fla. He has 17 years of experience and is an instructor at Manatee Technical College in the fire science program. He is the A-shift field training officer (FTO) and is assigned to a station that houses the hazmat unit as well as an engine, which is responsible for hazmat response for the entire county. Derek is a certified Firefighter-II/EMT-B, Fire Officer-II, Instructor-II, LFTI-II, Pump Operator, Hazmat Tech (160), Inspector-I, and Investigator-I from the Florida BFST. He is also a VFIS EVDT instructor, AHA BLS instructor, US National Grid System instructor, Fl SERP instructor, & L-449 Nims instructor. Derek served as a U.S. Marine Corps Reservist from 2002-08 and was deployed overseas twice. He also worked as an ocean lifeguard for 16 years (part-time) and created the BFST-approved course ATPC 13309, Basic Water Rescue for Firefighters. 

Ron Givens - @RonGivens

The name is Ron Givens, and I'm a career firefighter in South West Florida; Ft. Myers to be exact. I'm a fifth-generation firefighter, with documented fire service bloodline back to 1919 in East Hanover, N.J. I'm currently a Florida Instructor II, and hold an associate degree in fire science. I've been with my current department for nine years, where I am standing at the rank of engineer/paramedic with acting lieutenant endorsements. I am also a part-time captain/paramedic for a combination department on one of Southwest Florida's barrier islands. I was previously active in my department's Explorer program for several years. I helped my department make strides on revising our Probationary Firefighter Curriculum. I assist the Lee County Fire Chiefs' Association (Fla.) as a live fire instructor during cooperative, countywide, mutual aid training at our local fire academy. I am a proud member of the Gulf Coast FOOLS and IAFF Local 1826. I began my career as a volunteer firefighter in the Bayshore Region in New Jersey. I have learned a lot from my predecessors, which I intend to teach to the Junior Jakes that are following in my footsteps. I have always had a few mentors in my life that have helped me along the way. Some are not here anymore, but they will always have a special place in my heart and will not be forgotten. I live by the mottos: "It is better to ask for forgiveness, than ask for permission," and "When a man becomes a fireman, his greatest act of bravery has been accomplished. What he does after that is all in the line of work." I believe in the fact that nobody in the fire service is going to hold my hand and if I want to better myself or my crew, I need to get out and do it myself. Get up, get out there, and GO GET IT.

Mark Goldfeder - @fivebugles - @MarkGoldfeder

Mark is the president and co-founder of Five Bugles Institute and a Firefighter/Paramedic/Acting Lieutenant with Tarpon Springs Fire Rescue. He has over 28 years of combined career, volunteer fire, and EMS experience and has been an instructor for over 25 years.

Mark holds a master’s degree in organizational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Mark has significant expertise in organizational culture and creating change to promote a better fire service for current and future leaders.  

Mark is also the creator of the “Honor the Fallen” charity fundraiser, a training event dedicated to raising funds for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Florida Fallen Firefighter Memorial. He has taught at Fire Rescue East, the 2014 Florida Fire Chiefs Association Safety and Health Conference, the National Volunteer Fire Council’s Annual Training Summit, and has been published by Fire Engineering Magazine. He is on LinkedIn at @MarkGoldfederMSNRP. 

Alejandro Gonzalez

Alejandro is a VOC instructor in both the DOT and VFIS curriculum. The first six years of his 27-year and counting career, was spent navigating the congested roads in Miami. Recognizing the potential lethality of mistakes that can be made by those in our industry, he has engaged in a crusade to save lives and careers. 

Steve Greene - @DalmatProd

Steve Greene served eight years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and also worked for Guilford County NC EMS and served as a fire inspector in the Syracuse NY area. Outside of the fire service, he served as the executive director of several non-profit organizations, where he specialized in volunteer retention, leadership development, board training and overall operations for multi-million-dollar structures. Steve is the president and executive producer of Dalmatian Productions and the producer and host of the podcast, “5-Alarm Task Force,” which is honored to be a sponsor of the 2018 Great Florida Fire School.

 

John Hayowyk - @BTBFireTraining - @JohnHayowyk

John Hayowyk Jr. has been in the fire service for over 24 years. He is currently a captain for the City of Passaic F.D. in N.J. assigned to Ladder 2. John is also a N.J.-Certified Level 2 Fire Service Instructor and teaches at a Public Safety Training Academy. He also heads up the Training Division for the Roxbury Twp. Volunteer Fire Dept. John is an active fire inspector and arson investigator and maintains his EMT certification. 

He has been part of an extremely successful grant writing team since 2007. The team has received over $3 million in grant funding. The awarded grants have been from local, state, and federal agencies, as well as from private sector businesses.  John has undertaken the task of developing and reviewing policies and procedures for several fire departments. John most recently has become one of the New Jersey Advocates for the Nation Fallen Firefighters Foundation. 

Carl Hohenstein - @allinfiretraining

Carl Hohenstein has been a firefighter since 1986 and served as a lieutenant/paramedic on Squad 3 with the South Walton Fire District before his retirement. He served as chairperson for the district's training committee and was a team member and trainer for the district's technical rescue team. He is a co-founder and instructor for All in Fire Training, a training company located in the Panhandle of Florida. Carl is also a lead instructor for the Northwest Florida State College Fire Academy and adjunct instructor for the Pensacola Fire Department Fire Academy.

B. Aaron Johnson - @thecodecoach

Aaron has more than a decade of fire protection, life safety, and code compliance experience. He currently serves as fire marshal for Rural/Metro Fire Department, in South Florida. Aaron holds multiple fire service certifications and is active on multiple technical committees. He is the author of nearly 500 industry-related articles, white papers, and blog posts. His most recent book is, "Fire Prevention Blueprint: Seven Disciplines for Building Effective Fire Prevention Organizations." He is on LinkedIn at @baaronj.

Bill Miller

Bill Miller is an Engineer Paramedic and Deputy Special Operations Coordinator for the Fort Myers Fire Department. With over a decade of experience encompassing rural EMS, critical care transport, racetrack firefighting, urban fire/EMS, and a multitude of regional HAZMAT responses, Bill brings real life lessons learned to each of his courses. Bill is the lead instructor for Miller Dynamics, teaching both EMS and HAZMAT courses throughout Southwest Florida.

Nicolas Morgado - @NicholasMorgado

Nicolas Morgado is a 15-year veteran of the fire service currently serving as Acting Division Chief of Training & Safety with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department. He has served as an operations training captain for the past seven years, is a lead instructor, and was the coordinator for Miami-Dade’s Officer Development Programs and Incident Command Training Program. He is State of Florida Instructor II, Fire Officer II and Safety Officer as well as a Pro-Board Safety Officer with the Fire Department Safety Officer Association. He is a member of the Region 7 All Hazards Incident Management Team as a Safety Officer and has served as an instructor for the Ft. Lauderdale Fire Expo, Great Florida Fire School and the High-Rise Operations Conference. He is on LinkedIn at @NicholasMorgado.   

Nick Peppard - @nick_peppard - @NickPeppard

Nick Peppard is a 13-year veteran of the fire service who has worked on engine, truck and rescue companies in several fire and EMS agencies across the State ranging from small suburban to large metropolitan departments. Nick currently works as an engineer at the Holley-Navarre Fire District in Northwest Florida and is assigned to Engine Company 45, the busiest engine in Santa Rosa County. He has served in the ranks of firefighter, engineer and previously as a company officer. He holds an A.S. degree in fire science and an A.S. degree in EMS technology. He is a State and nationally registered paramedic, Florida FO1, Instructor 2, Inspector 1, Investigator 1, Pump Operator, Hazmat Tech, and ARFF. Nick is a student of the craft and is always pushing to better himself through conferences, training, higher education, and real-world experience. He is on LinkedIn at @NickPeppard-087190123. 

Grant Schwalbe - @gschwalbe - @GrantSchwalbe

Grant has been a firefighter since 1994. He currently works for Estero Fire Rescue (Fort Myers, Fla.) as a lieutenant/paramedic on Engine 43. He is an instructor for When Things Go Bad, Inc. and for Fort Myers Fire Academy. Grant has taught at various conferences including The Orlando Fire Conference, Wichita HOT, Fort Lauderdale Fire Expo and Fire Rescue East. He is the lead instructor for the FDIC HOT program “Residential Search-Making the Grab." Grant is a regular contributor to the Fire Engineering Training Community and has been published in Fire Engineering Magazine. His areas of passion include search, engine company ops, firefighter survival, and RIT. Grant is FL Instructor 3 and has an associate degree in fire science and a bachelor’s degree in business administration. He is on LinkedIn at @GrantSchwalbe. 

Kevin Scott

Kevin Scott is a firefighter paramedic with Levy County Department of Public Safety and a 15-year veteran of the fire service. 

Barry Spinweber

Barry Spinweber has been a student of the craft for 10 years in the fire service acting the majority of the time as a driver engineer. Currently assigned to E94 with Greenacres Fire Rescue and prior to that as an acting truck and engine officer with Venice Fire Dept. and Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department in Sarasota County. He is a State-certified Fire Instructor 1, Fire Officer 1, Driver Engineer, Safety Officer, and Live Fire Training Instructor. He has assisted with the training of many new recruits where a common sense approach is taught to foster efficiency and thinking firefighters on the fire ground.

Rick Stephens - @centralcaptain

Rick is a 20-year veteran of the fire service and is currently a training captain at Miami-Dade Fire. He has presented at FDIC, Pensacola Hi-Rise Conference and the Fort Lauderdale Fire Conference.

Richard Stilp - @RichardStilp

Richard Stilp began his career in the fire service in 1976, became a Paramedic in 1978 and a Registered Nurse in 1984. He retired from Orlando Fire Department in 1999, served as the Corporate Director of Safety and Security for Orlando Regional Healthcare. He left to become the executive director of the Central Florida Fire Academy. He ended his fire service career as the fire chief of St. Cloud Fire Rescue. Richard has co-authored a number of books with Armando Bevelacqua including "Emergency Medical Response to Hazardous Materials Incidents," "Terrorism Handbook for Operational Responders," "The Hazardous Materials Field Guide," and the "Citizens Guide to Terrorism Preparedness." He has also contributed several articles to fire, EMS, and nursing professional publications. Richard holds an Associate in Arts, and Associate in Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Arts in Business, and a Master of Arts in Management. He is certified as a Florida Professional Emergency Manager (FPEM) through the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association (FEPA). He serves on the executive committee of the Florida Hazardous Materials Symposium and speaks annually at the international and national conferences.  He received the John P. O’Gorman Award in 2017 at the International HazMat Conference in Baltimore. He is on LinkedIn at @RichardStilp.

Marc Weiss - www.facebook.com/marc.weiss.75

Marc has been a firefighter since 1991. He currently works for Bonita Springs Fire Control & Rescue District (Fort Myers, Fla.) as a Firefighter/EMT and Special Ops Tech, Acting Lieutenant on Engine 21. He is an instructor for the Southwest Florida Fire Academy in Fort Myers, Fl. Marc has been an adjunct instructor at various conferences including The Orlando Fire Conference, Fort Lauderdale Fire Expo. His areas of passion include engine company ops, Marc is FL Instructor 1, a Florida Live Fire Master Instructor and has an associate degree in fire science. Marc is also the President of the Florida Gulf Coast F.O.O.L.S. 

Erica Wood - @ffparamedic114

Erica is currently employed as a prehospital educational coordinator for the University of Virginia Prehospital Program and volunteering in Louisa County. Starting her EMS career in Massachusetts, she worked as an EMT and rapid response technician in a Level 2 Trauma Hospital, then moved to Virginia in 2004. She obtained her paramedic and critical care certifications and worked critical care transport, and volunteered in Stafford and Caroline counties before working professionally for Orange County and then at UVA. She has a bachelor's degree in fire science and a master's degree in emergency management, both from Columbia Southern University. She is the former IAFF Union President for Local 5103 in Orange County.

Robert Woodhead Jr. - @suatfire

My name is Robert Woodhead and I’m one of the founders of Shut Up & Train, LLC. I've been in the fire service for over 14 years with Union Beach Fire Company No.1, where I’m currently captain, as well as an instructor for our department. I’ve also received several awards throughout my career. I’ve been a part of our RIT for over eight years and even a past RIT team leader. Our RIT team is well known in our county due to our proactive and dedicated nature with training, which is further shown by the multiple box alarms that we are listed on. I started Shut Up & Train to meet other firefighters who understand the challenges we face in the fire service and wanted to share their experience. We believe the firefighting community encompasses pride, tradition and honor – all values that should be passed along to everyone we meet. I am on LinkedIn at @robert-woodhead-jr-a6688762. 

More Firefighters Connected Than Anywhere Else

Oct 22-26 Fort Myers, FL

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