VCOS Election


2022 Elections open May 25 and end June 27

VCOS Candidates for Director-at-Large

John C. Clark

Fire Chief, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue, Washington
Serving on the VCOS Board would provide the opportunity to be involved in working to improve future firefighters and fire officers in the fire service, particularly in volunteer and combination agencies. As the fire service faces unprecedented challenges in recruitment and retention of firefighters as well a multitude of operational challenges, the VCOS should be positioned to respond and assist their member agencies.

As a lifelong learner and student of the fire service for over 30-years, I have a passion for education and professional development in the fire service at all levels. I strongly believe that serving on the VCOS Board provides the opportunity to utilize my knowledge, skills, and abilities to serve firefighters and future fire service leaders, as well as positively impacting the fire service as a whole.

During my 40+ years in the fire service, I have served entirely in volunteer and combination departments. My fire service journey taken me through from the ranks of cadet to fire chief, serving at every rank and division in the fire service. Currently, I proudly serve as the Fire Chief of the North Whidbey Fire District, a combination department on Whidbey Island in Northwest Washington’s Puget Sound area. Prior to coming to the Pacific Northwest, I spent the majority of my fire service career in Michigan and Ohio. During my tenures as a chief fire officer, I have served on state and regional fire chief associations in Michigan and Oregon. Currently I serve on committees with the Washington State and Island County Fire Chief Associations. I believe that my drive and commitment to improve the fire service provides me with a strong foundation to serve as a VCOS Board member and I would be honored to serve on the VCOS Board.

Richard Cowger

Fire Chief, Columbus Rural Fire District #3, Montana
I have had the opportunity to serve as a VCOS Board member since I was appointed to fill a board vacancy in 2017. In mid-2018, I was elected to serve as the Vice Chair of the VCOS Board, a position I currently hold.

After joining the IAFC in 2003, I also became a member of the VCOS at the encouragement of a former board member. Immediately, I felt the VCOS represented who I was and still am, a member of the volunteer and combination fire services. The VCOS has done landmark work on issues facing the volunteer and combination fire systems and I knew I wanted to be part of that, part of having the ability to leave something better than I found it, which in this case is a tall task.

I want to be able to work hard for the volunteer and combination systems across the country, to be able to keep them vibrant and thriving even though these tough times. I feel that by serving on the board and keeping the needs and issues of the volunteer and combination systems a high priority, not only at the IAFC level, but national and state levels, partnering with like-minded organizations and sponsors, and by listening to the concerns of our members, that it is possible to keep the volunteer and combination systems strong. The VCOS has worked hard to do this through advocacy, education and networking. It has been a privilege to be part of that for the last three and a half years. I look forward to continuing to serve my roll on the VCOS and would be honored to work just as hard for the next three years, with the support of its members.

Frank P. Hand

Chief of Department, Pottstown Borough Fire Department, Pennsylvania
Chief Hand currently serves as the Department Chief in Pottstown a combination department that serves two municipalities in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Chief Hand is an active member of the IAFC from 1994 through 2003 and continuously from 2007 and recently served on the EDIAFC board since 2014 moving through the chairs of progression. Chief Hand’s ability to organize & delegate, and diplomatically mediate conflicts between perspectives and to build consensus among other partners is one of his strengths. Chief Hand has served for over 20 years as a career and volunteer chief fire officer in different agencies and over 40 years of active service from Firefighter Paramedic to Chief of Department. “I have always seen and valued the resources and benefits of membership and have continuously attended many of the IAFC conferences”. Chief Hand is Past President of the Delaware Valley Fire Chiefs Association and is the current Chairman of the Highway Incident Response Task Force for the past 12 years. Serving in a combination fire department as the Department Chief in an urban setting with overall command and administrative responsibilities, including strategic planning initiatives that seek to identify the goals of preserving a viable combination all hazard fire department and to continuously monitor and managing a comprehensive budget with accountability for short- and long-term goals. Chief Hand recognizes and keeps current for trends in public safety and response capabilities within a combination system that responds annually to over 1300 fire and 8500 EMS responses.

Recognizing through my current position the needs of fire and EMS organizations that serve our communities will make me a viable candidate to fill this position as a member of the VCOS board of directors.

Thank you for your consideration.

Kenneth W. Richards, Jr.

Fire Chief, Old Mystic Fire Department, Connecticut
I have attended the Symposium in the Sun for over 20-years and represented the VCOS on the FRI Planning Council. I have also served as a member of the Strategic Plan (Vision Project Team) and chaired the Initiative #1 Capabilities & Competencies. I have extensive experience successfully serving in this capacity, specifically on the International Association of Fire Chiefs New England Division as well as the National Fire Protection Agency Technical Committee on Fire Service Training and The NFPA Standards Council. Considering my active participation in these and several other special projects over the years, I feel well-prepared to run for the Board of Directors for VCOS and know that I will contribute greatly to your forum.

I have 46-years of fire service experience that began at the age of 14 as a volunteer junior member in The Old Mystic Fire Department. I worked my way up the volunteer ranks and became the second career person in the department at age 26. This experience has allowed me to understand and advocate for the volunteer and combination system. Furthermore, implementing ideas gained from attending the VCOS annual symposium has improved the Old Mystic Fire Department’s ability to serve our community and support its members. Should I be elected, I feel that my experience and knowledge would benefit the VCOS Board of Directors as well as its members and Symposium in the Sun attendees.

Thank you for your consideration.

Shawn P. Stokes

Fire Chief, Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, Virginia
I am running for the VCOS Board because of my passion for the volunteer fire service and my belief that the IAFC and VCOS should be our leadership organization. It is critical that we have experienced leadership serving the members and guiding our section, and I have the skills and experience that are needed to lead us into the future.

First, I want to continue developing and fostering programs and partnerships that bring critical tools to our members in areas such as recruitment and retention, physical and mental health, and diversity of our memberships. I have extensive experience in developing and implementing the tools we need and will draw from those experiences to expand and improve our offerings.

Second, I can represent both all-volunteer and combination departments. My upbringing in Western Pennsylvania, as the son of a volunteer chief, not only introduced me to the service but taught me about how dedicated all-volunteer departments can serve their community and the challenges they face. Now I am a volunteer chief myself, responsible for all phases of our department including operations, procurement, and fundraising, but operating in a large complex combination system, giving me a unique perspective of both all-volunteer and combination fire departments. This range of experiences ensures that I can represent and advocate for all our members.

Lastly, I have a proven track record advocating for the volunteer fire service. For almost 20 years I have worked to foster national fire service policy at all levels of government and will bring that experience to the board to advance the needs of our members on the national stage.

Using my skills and experiences towards the goal of improving the volunteer fire service for our members is why I desire to serve on the VCOS Board.

Fred Windisch

Fire Chief, Ponderosa Volunteer Fire Department, Texas
F. C. (Fred) Windisch began his volunteer fire service career in 1972, and served as the Fire Chief of the Ponderosa Volunteer Fire Department located north of Houston, Texas from 1985 through 1999, 2003 - current, and served as the CEO/Fire Marshal of the Harris County Fire and Emergency Services Department, the third most populous county in the nation from February 2000 to July 2002. Fred is a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and served as Chairman of the Volunteer and Combination Officers Section. He represented the Section on the IAFC Board of Directors and now serves on the VCOS Board of Directors. He has completed the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program, has been certified (fifth recertification) as a Chief Fire Officer Designate, and he is a member of the NFPA and state organizations. Fred retired after 30 years with Shell Chemical Company at its Westhollow Technology Center as a Senior Safety Specialist working with health, safety and environmental issues. Fred also served as Fire Chief of the facility's fire brigade and managed its fire, EMS, Hazmat, and Rescue teams.


2022 VCOS Election

The VCOS board consists of nine members at-large and the VCOS international director, for a total of ten board members. No more than two at-large board members from the same division can serve on the board at the same time.

Open Seats

There are three at-large board members seats up for election for three-year terms through 2025. The top three vote-getters will get the at-large positions as long as it doesn’t conflict with the “no more than two from the same division” rule.

All candidates for election to the VCOS Board must:

  • Be a regular member in good standing of the IAFC and VCOS.
  • Be an active chief officer engaged in supervising volunteers in a combination or volunteer fire department.
  • Be available to attend four meetings a year in various parts of the country, with the understanding that some expenses for travel may be your responsibility. (These meetings include the Symposium in the Sun and Fire-Rescue International.)
  • Participate in conference calls that occur approximately once a month.
  • Work on projects assigned by the chair/board of directors.
  • Promote the VCOS by writing articles for the VCOS newsletter and attending regional fire service events as a VCOS representative.

How to Apply

If you are interested in running to be on the VCOS Board, please email the following information to Chief Joseph Florentino and copy Kevin McGee,

  • Your name, address, phone and email address
  • A statement explaining why you desire to be a board member in 300 words or less
  • Your department name and department phone number
  • Your position/title in that department
  • Your supervisors name, contact numbers and email address so we may verify your information
  • Your resume
  • Your IAFC division

Due to the limit of having no more than two board members from each division, we cannot accept candidates from the Great Lakes Division.

All above candidate information must be received by Monday, March 14, 2022 at 11:59 PM ET.

If you have any questions, please contact: Chief Joseph Florentino, Chair at