Strickland offered a voice of reason and experience at Pro Board Advisory
Committee Meetings and Conferences for many years.
As a Maryland Fire and Rescue
Institute employee and the Pro Board liaison person for the Maryland
Fire Service Personnel Qualifications Board, Inc., Russell represented the
accredited agency that certified the most candidates of any Pro Board accredited agency. His broad knowledge,
experience running such a comprehensive certification system, easy
approachability, and willingness to share made Russell an asset to the Pro Board
and the agencies it accredits.
absence at this Decemberís Advisory Committee meeting did not go
unnoticed. Although some of
you may know, Russell has moved on to a new stage of his career.
He is still actively engaged in the emergency services, but no
longer the Pro Board contact for the Maryland certification system.
Below is an excerpt from an announcement of Russellís new
position and an interview with him conducted earlier this month. I believe
I am safe in saying that we will all miss his contributions, but wish him
all the success in his new position.
T. Edwards, Director of the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute, University
of Maryland and John W. Droneburg, III, Governor Ehrlichís recently
appointed Director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency are pleased
to announce the executive loan of Russell J. Strickland, Assistant
Director for Field Programs to MEMA.
Russell will assume his new assignment at MEMA on January 13, 2004.
Russell will join Director Droneburg as part of the senior management team
charged with the reshaping of that agency.
Director Edwards and Director Droneburg both view this as an
excellent opportunity for MFRI and MEMA to improve the emergency
management of the state.
(from MFRI announcement)
(from MFRI announcement)
Russ, I have the press releases you sent me, but tell me what you are doing at MEMA? And how you enjoy it? (KO)
let me tell you, I like it very much, and I am having fun!.
It is different from my role at MFRI, which was mostly education and training focused. At MEMA, although I have responsibility for exercises and training, I also have responsibility for the state emergency operations center. (Russ)
exactly are your areas of responsibility?
Joint Operations Center and the State Emergency Operations Center
it just responsibility for the Joint Operations facility or do you have an
active role in emergency operations?
It includes an active role in operations. When the center is staffed for an exercise or an event I am the center commander.
Governor, Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. has clearly established five pillars for
his administration. One of those pillars is public safety and he envisioned that
emergency management be elevated to a more functional role in public
safety coordination. That is, not just gather resources in the event of a
disaster, but also be more customer service oriented and proactive.
know the public is the ultimate beneficiary of your services, but to whom
are you referring as customers?
Our customers are local emergency managers and public safety organizations. We see most events as unfolding as local events. It has become clear that disaster and emergency response is seldom a single discipline response. The event today can involve fire, police, public health and other response partners. Our governor wanted to bring in a diverse set of public safety backgrounds into MEMA to develop better prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for disasters and other emergencies.
you have input into the development of this changing model?
it keeps the job very interesting. We
are dividing the state into six regions and there will be six Regional
Program Administrators. This is very similar to the MFRI regional system
model for state fire training. We plan to use technology to enhance
communications and allow the regional administrators to work without the
overhead of a ďstorefrontĒ.
assume your responsibility over training at MEMA allows you to leverage
your relationship with MFRI. With
what other agencies do you deal with regard to training?
do, of course, deal with MFRI. In addition, I work with the Maryland Police and Corrections
Training Commission, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
and state Department of Transportation. The fact that I have worked with
persons in all of those organizations while working at MFRI helps as we
move the new model forward.
to the announcement that you sent me you are technically on loan to MEMA
from MFRI. Is there a chance you will return to MFRI?
Thereís a chance, but I have no immediate plans at this time.
change the topic to the historic and folkloric: What was your first
contact with the Pro Board?
I was aware of it in the days of Dave Gratz and John Hoglund.
was your role with the initial Maryland application for accreditation?
the spring of í86 the Maryland Fire Service Personnel Qualifications
Board, Inc. was created. I
was working for MFRI at that time and was active in the study of, and
initial set up of the state certification system. I am a charter member of
were many others who made great contributions to the system.
One of the yardsticks we used to measure success, from the beginning of the vision of a state certification system, was to get the system accredited.
1993 when the Maryland Board filed its application for accreditation I was
the point of contact for the Pro Board. We applied to accredit our
Firefighter I, II and II programs.
Do you still have any association with the MFSPQB?
am the MFRI alternate to, and the board elected treasurer of the MFSPQB
retrospect, assess the Pro Board accreditation system for me.
my perspective, the MFSPQB and Pro Board experience has been healthy.
There have been challenges and disagreements along the way, but
nothing that precluded the growth of either system. Both Pro Board and
IFSAC provide an excellent system of checks and balances. In fact, I
believe it strengthens a certification system to undergo that type of
evaluation and use the process to improve the system.
of challenges; Marylandís Option 2 really opened the door to different
methods of evaluation especially for higher-level certifications.
It certainly had the potential to be a disagreement, however, I
donít believe it ever deteriorated to that level. I remember the
documentation of the Option 2 process that you sent the COA members as
being complete, logical and understandable. Were you directly involved in
putting that package together?
and it was a real coordinated effort from all members of the MFSPQB and
the Maryland fire service.
you involved in the development of the Option 2 process?
2 was actually a Baltimore County method of certification evaluation that
was developed by their county certification system before there was an
you have any comments on how that was handled by Maryland or the Pro Board?
greatest challenge of our certification system evolved with the changes in
the NFPA standards. They went
from a simple KSA format to the JPR format at the same time they were
expanding in number of pro-qual standards and levels within those
am a proponent of JPRs and outcome based evaluation. They opened the door
for more creative types of evaluation. In fact, I believe that someone
certified to Fire Officer IV by submitting to Marylandís Option 2
evaluation is more valid that someone who sits through a class and takes a
written test. It is more like
the defense of a dissertation. It
requires the candidate to defend their ability to perform at the level the
standard dictates for 100% of the standardís JPRs.
took over your responsibilities at MFRI?
has been some administrative restructuring and they have been divided
among several persons.
took over your responsibilities at MFRI with regard to accreditation and
Preston took that piece.
there any bubble pens left at MFRI? (Russell distributed pens with the
MFRI logo and that had a wand and bubble solution in the barrel at a Pro Board
conference a few years back. They were big hits with the
are a few in the archives.
for taking time to talk with me and thanks for all the years you dedicated
yourself to fire service training and certification issues. Iíll
let the Pro Board agencies know what you are up to these days.
Emergency Management Agency
Fretterd Military Reservation
Rue Saint Lo Drive
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