TargetSolutions, the leading provider of computer-based training management applications for fire departments, and the International Association of Fire Chief’s (IAFC) Volunteer & Combination Officers Section (VCOS) announced today that Michael Accardo III of the St. Tammany Fire District 9 (STFD9) has been selected as the winner of the 2017 VCOS Training Officer Recognition Award.
Accardo, a chief of training and safety for the combination department located in Bush, La., never expected to receive this type of recognition for his work. After years of dedicating himself to the betterment of his department, he reacted with the sort of humility you would expect from a 20-year veteran of the fire service.
“I don’t think I do more than anyone else does. I enjoy what I do. I enjoy helping people,” said Accardo, who is scheduled to accept the honor July 27 during the annual VCOS meeting at Fire-Rescue International in Charlotte, N.C.
Accardo was surprised to learn he would be receiving this prestigious recognition. But for Fire Chief Scott Brewer, the selection made perfect sense. Brewer lauded Accardo for his dedication and innovation after leading the charge to transform his department’s training facility from run-of-the-mill into first-class.
“He got the training building donated, moved it here, plumbed and powered it and then filled it with training aids from grants, donations or by buying it himself,” Brewer wrote when nominating Accardo. “He went out every night for a year and learned how to be an EMT instructor. He had STFD9 certified as an ‘institute of higher learning’ so we could teach EMT and EMR to our members and those of local departments at no charge.”
The VCOS Training Officer Recognition Award aims to honor exemplary conduct befitting of a training officer, which Accardo has demonstrated in spades. Nonetheless, he’s quick to return whatever praise he receives back to his crew members.
“I could not have completed the project without help from everyone at our department,” said Accardo, who started as a volunteer firefighter in the 1990s, when firefighter training requirements were far different than they are today.
“I try to make (training) educational and also entertaining,” he said. “Every Tuesday we have a training class and average 20 to 25 volunteers who show up. We just keep adding to it and I try to work around everybody’s schedule. Nights, weekends, whenever.”
Always trying to think of new ways to help his fellow firefighters, it seems the criterion for the VCOS Training Officer Recognition Award was written with Accardo in mind.
“You do what you can with what you got, and if you don’t have it, you try to build it,” said Accardo, who also serves as coordinator for St. Tammany’s Youth Fire Corps (YFC) program, which provides an opportunity to involve the children of the department’s volunteer on-call members. Aiding in public education and community events, such as the annual United Way Red Beans ‘N Rice Cook-Off where proceeds raised support the St. Tammany Suicide Prevention & Crisis Response Program, these rookies acquire leadership, decision-making, and practical hands-on skills while the program develops them into full-fledged St. Tammany firefighters by the time they’re 18. “The Youth Fire Corps members are the future of our department,” said Accardo.
This marks the fourth year in a row TargetSolutions and the VCOS teamed up to present the prestigious honor, which is designated each year for an individual who goes above and beyond to demonstrate innovation in firefighter training. Capt. Chip Everett of Oshtemo Township Fire Department (Mich.), Asst. Chief Brad Pinsky of Manlius Fire Department (N.Y.) and Deputy Chief Steve Malone of the Manhattan Fire Protection District (Ill.) won the award in previous years.
Accardo will receive a trip to Charlotte for FRI, which is scheduled July 26-29, including round-trip airfare and hotel accommodations, as well as a plaque commemorating the award.
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 4,000 organizations across the country using TargetSolutions’ innovative technology to solve their training challenges.
About IAFC’s VCOS
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.