Brad Pinsky knows the exact date things changed for Manlius Fire Department. It was March 7, 2002 when two firefighters died battling a fierce blaze.
From that day forward, the combination department in the village of Manlius of Onondaga County, N.Y. never was the same.
“Training was always important to the department, but in 2002 we lost two of our own in a structure fire,” said Pinsky, who was recently named the recipient of the 2015 Training Officer Recognition Award, which is presented jointly by the International Association of Fire Chief’s Volunteer & Combination Officers Section and TargetSolutions. Pinsky will receive his honor during a special ceremony in August during Fire-Rescue International in Atlanta.
“One of the ways we handled it was by improving the training of both our volunteer and career staff. Our department looked at itself to see how to prevent future incidents from that day forward. We still talk about March 7 with new recruits. It’s part of the history of our department and we try to reflect on the incident and make sure it never happens again.”
Now serving as the department’s assistant fire chief, as well as the municipal training officer, Pinsky has worked to prevent these types of incidents by taking Manlius’ training to a new level. Changes have been made to the volunteer staff’s training requirements. In the past, 35 hours were needed to stay current. Now, the department’s 70 volunteer firefighters not only need 50 hours – a 43 percent increase – but to complete mandatory proficiency tests on numerous skills.
In addition to the higher standards and greater focus on training, Pinsky has brought innovation to the exercises, according to the city’s Mayor Paul Whorrall.
“Since 2010, Chief Pinsky has written hundreds of lesson plans and has taught and led at least 50 drills each year,” said Whorrall. “He organizes two live fire events each year for the full department. Approximately 25 firefighters attend each Tuesday night drill and his lesson plans are used throughout the week to instruct the remainder of the volunteer and career staff.
“His hands-on drills are always active for everyone attending. For example, during the six-week rotation of vehicle extrication, Chief Pinsky ensures that there are four vehicles ready to be cut during the Tuesday night drills, and several other vehicles available during the week for the career staff.”
The Training Officer Recognition Award is designed to acknowledge exemplary conduct befitting of a training officer, which Pinsky has consistently displayed. The award recognizes Pinsky’s creativity and commitment to best practices and operational effectiveness at Manlius Fire Department.
“In today’s fire service, training time competes with every other time commitment; therefore it is necessary to conduct high-quality, engaging training in a variety of formats. The more engaging the training, the more likely the member, be they career or volunteer, is to complete it. The training of today’s fire service is extremely important since that is what keeps the citizens and fellow firefighters safe while responding to and performing emergency operations. The Training Officer Recognition Award is one opportunity to recognize those individuals who have striven to provide their membership and the fire service as a whole the training necessary for members to perform at the top of their game. Assistant Chief Pinsky demonstrates those values both internal to his organization and the greater fire service alike.”
Fire Chief with Sauvie Island Fire District (Portland, Ore.) & VCOS Board Member
It’s clear Pinsky’s does it all out of love for the fire service. As a volunteer, he spends more than 15 hours a week working for free while also managing his main job as an attorney with the Pinsky Law Group in Syracuse, N.Y. He is also the co-owner of IamResponding.com, an online mobile service that provides firefighters with dispatches on their cell phones and permits departments and dispatchers to know who is responding to each emergency.
“I start early every day and go late,” said Pinsky, whose commitment to the profession is like many other dedicated volunteers who sacrifice to serve and protect.
“Volunteers do give up free time and family time and they do it for their community and without any expectations of a thank you. They do it because they love it.”
Pinsky is well-known throughout the fire service. He has published numerous articles, including the “Fire Department Law and Management Resource Manual.” He also serves as a speaker and hosts a monthly radio show, “Fire Service Court Radio” for Fire Engineering.
The opportunity to work with the VCOS and honor Pinsky is a great honor for TargetSolutions, according to Executive Vice President Thom Woodward.
“We look forward to FRI when Assistant Chief Pinsky will be recognized for his outstanding contributions to the fire service,” said Woodward. “This award is meant to honor someone who shares the same commitment to firefighter training that we do here at TargetSolutions.”
In addition to the Training Officer Recognition Award, TargetSolutions offers VCOS members a discount on the industry’s most powerful online training management system. Departments will receive $500 off TargetSolutions’ set-up fee, plus an additional 10 percent off user fees. If interested in this discount, please click here.
TargetSolutions delivers cutting-edge software applications, engaging online training courses, and world-class customer service. The company was founded in 1999 and today there are more than 2,000 organizations across the country using TargetSolutions’ innovative technology to solve their training challenges. TargetSolutions is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. For more information, please call 1-800-840-8048 or check online at wwwsandbox.targetsolutions.com.
About IAFC’s Volunteer & Combination Officers Section
VCOS provides chiefs and chief officers who manage volunteers within a volunteer or combination fire, rescue or EMS delivery system with information, education, services and representation to enhance their professionalism. For more information, check online at www.vcos.org.