TAVARES — Jim Dickerson, Assistant Fire Chief — Operations for the Lake County Department of Public Safety, Fire Rescue Division, recently graduated from the National Fire Academy's Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Program.
The intense four-year program enhances professional development through a unique series of four graduate and upper-division-baccalaureate equivalent courses. In addition to course work for two weeks every year, program participants are required to complete an applied research project in their organization six months after the completion of each of the four course areas.
Dickerson received a congratulatory letter from Gov. Charlie Crist for his accomplishment, and is currently one of three officials in the Lake County Fire Rescue Division that have completed the program. The other Lake County fire officials to have completed the EFO Program are Deputy Fire Chief John Jolliff and Professional Standards Manager Steve Gaston. Assistant Fire Chief — Administration Jack Fillman is currently enrolled.
"Throughout my career, I never stopped going to school and increasing my knowledge of the fire profession," Dickerson said. "A lot of people don't understand the fire service is continually changing. Especially after 9-11, more technological advances have emerged in the profession."
With more than 2,500 graduates, the EFO Program is designed to provide senior officers and others in key leadership roles with:
• An understanding of:
o the need to transform fire and emergency services organizations from being reactive to proactive, with an emphasis on leadership development, prevention and risk-reduction;
o transforming fire and emergency services organizations to reflect the diversity of America's communities;
o the value of research and its application to the profession; and
o the value of lifelong learning.
• Enhanced executive-level knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to lead these transformations, conduct research and engage in lifelong learning.
The Lake County Department of Public Safety hired Dickerson in 2004. He previously served 18 1/2 years with the Seminole County Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic, lieutenant and battalion chief.