It began a little over two years ago, when former Fire Chief Corky Brewer approached Drake and two other firefighters about taking the course.
“I was a bit apprehensive at first, especially when I ended up being the only one who took it,” Drake said. “But once I began, I realized that it was the next step in what I wanted to do.”
The course consisted of online assignments with the academy, training on the required written and practical objectives, passing a practical skills examination, and then passing both a written and practical skills examination administered by a member of UFRA’s Certification Council.
“It was a lot of work, and I think the biggest challenge was working at my full-time job and then finding the separate time to study and stay with it.” Drake said. “Also, since I was the first one to take the course, I didn’t have an instructor outside of the online assignments, so I had to teach everything to myself.”
He said he found that it was quite different from the Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2 courses that he had previously completed.
“The Fire Officer 1 course concentrates on human resource management, community and government relations, administration, emergency service delivery and inspection and investigation,” Drake said. “Firefighter 1 and 2 dealt more with firefighter skills in fighting fires. It was a good contrast, and I’ve learned so much. It’s taught me leadership, and it’s made me a better firefighter.”
In addition to his Fire Officer 1 certification, Drake currently holds Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, and Fire Service Instructor certifications, and plans on furthering his education.
“I look forward to the challenge of learning new things,” he said. “I’ve been interested in firefighting for as far back as I can remember. I enjoy serving my community in this way.”