IAFC at 140: An Idea that Created Leaders

The key to moving any industry forward is taking an idea—be it simple or complex—and transforming it into something tangible. Thomas Edison said genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration; it was a joint effort of the IAFC and its members across the years that turned the idea of teaching future leaders the craft of preventing and fighting fire into a reality.

In 1892, Chief Henry Goetz, fire chief in New Albany, Ind., had an idea: Erect an institution similar to the U.S. Military School, where young men could be educated on "the science of preventing and fighting fire." This was the first call on record for a National Fire Academy.

At the IAFC's 20th convention in Louisville, Ky., that year, a paper was read describing the New York School of Fire Extinguishment, the first of its kind in any department, which brought about great praise from the attending chiefs. Its ideas were both commended and recommended as an example others should follow.

In the 1950s, the IAFC created the International Fire Administration Institute to support officer development. And to make fire service education more available, a college-level scholarship was created.

The United States' National Fire Academy opened in 1979, championed by the IAFC.

Highly regarded institutions like Ana Maria College, the American Military University and several other institutions offer degrees and certificates in fire science now.

To make fire-science education more widely available, the IAFC Foundation, an independent nonprofit focused on providing scholarships to first responders to advance their fire service education, was formed in 1974. Its sole purpose is to provide scholarships to first responders to advance their fire service education.

One simple idea snowballed into a series of institutions that proved to be pivotal in turning the average fire service members into well-respected leaders of the craft.

Sometimes all it takes is a little inspiration, coupled with strong-willed, determined people to help change the future.

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