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Our programs are developed, prepared and presented in a professional and informative manner by a carefully selected staff of Fire Instructors who are chosen based on their experience and knowledge. Our staff is comprised of experienced fire officers and firefighters from both career and volunteer fire departments. Many are IAFF members and place a strict focus on student safety and effective teaching.



MARK BAGNIEWSKI: Mark joined the fire service in 2012 and is currently serves as a Lieutenant with the Cranford Fire Department. He is a certified swiftwater rescue, ice rescue and confined space rescue technician. Mark also holds certifications as a UCC building and fire sub-code inspector and is a NJ State Level 2 Instructor. Mark has a BE in Civil Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and is a NJ licensed Professional Engineer.


JAMES BASTAN: Jim served with the Jersey City Fire Department, retiring after 31 years. He is presently an active member of NJ Task Force 1 – Urban Search and Rescue Team, where he serves as a Task Force Leader and is responsible for the Search Component. For more than three decades, Jim has developed extensive knowledge and experience in leadership, firefighting and rescue operations. He also has vast experience as a technician and as an instructor in water rescue and rescue boat operations. He is a certified instructor with Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission. Jim is also a Past President of the State Urban Search & Rescue Alliance (SUSAR) and a Disaster Search Canine Evaluator.


PATRICK BUCKLEY: Pat joined the fire service in 1996 as a member of Hillsborough Fire Co. #2 in Somerset County NJ where he has held every leadership position and recently held the position of Fire Chief. Pat is a NJ State Level 2 Fire Instructor and a Fire Instructor at the Somerset County Emergency Services Training Academy in Somerset County NJ where he teaches the Truck Company Operations, Bailout, CEVO, Pump Operations, Air Management, as well as many of the Firefighter 1 & 2 courses. Pat has developed several courses such as Electrical Safety for Firefighters, Tactical Truck Operations, Truck Work, Traffic Incident Management, Utility Incident Management, Air Management, The “NEW” Fire Officer and Solar System Safety. Pat has worked in the utility/power industry for the past 41 years and holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and an MS in Energy Management.


TONY CARROLL: Tony is a Battalion Chief with the Washington DC Fire Department. He was appointed to DCFD in March 1992. He has served in some of the District of Columbia’s busiest Engine and Truck Company’s, as well as serving in Rescue Company 2. Tony also served as a fire instructor at the DC Fire Academy where he has taught rookie firefighters, Rope Rescue, Firefighter Survival, “Back to Basics”, Personal Escape Systems and other classes. Tony is a certified Level-3 instructor, an authorized Petzl EXO Escape Systems instructor and a FDTN Rapid Intervention Team instructor (T-t-T).


DONALD COLARUSSO: Don joined the fire service on April 7, 1987. He served as a fire chief for 6 years and presently holds the position of Team Leader for Neptune Township's Special Operations Technical Rescue Team in New Jersey. Don is a NJ State Level II Fire Instructor and formally a staff instructor with the Ocean County NJ Fire Academy, where he was awarded Northern Class "Instructor of the Year" in 2012. Don is a manufacturer authorized instructor for all of the nations leading NFPA-certified firefighter escape systems and is often asked to assist in provide manufacturer testing and feedback for new escape system products. He frequently provides consultation to customer for escape system integration, training and programs for fire departments.


TOM COSGROVE: Tom is an instructor at the Orange County NY Fire Academy and teaches fire service and technical rescue classes throughout the country. He also has instructed at Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) and Firehouse Expo. Tom recently retired from the New York City Fire Department, where he was assigned to Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan.


CHAD COX: Chad has been a member of the Wichita KS Fire Department for 13 years, where he currently serves as Lieutenant on Engine Company 2. He is a Sterling F4 Firefighter Escape Systems instructor. He also teaches Forcible Entry, Engine Company Operations and Safety & Survival. Chad assists the departments recruit academies with instruction on a variety of topics, including the Gemtor Harness and personal bailout systems.


WES DITZEL: Wes joined the fire service in 2011 as a volunteer firefighter. In 2014 he was hired as a career Firefighter with the Cranford Fire Department in Union County, NJ. In 2015 he received valor award for a water rescue in the Rahway River. He has been a certified EMT since 2008 and is a Water Rescue, Ice Rescue and Confined Space Rescue technician. Wes is a Scott S.C.B.A. certified in-house repair technician and an instructor at the Union County Fire Academy, and holds a BS in Fire Science from New Jersey City University.


BOBBY ECKERT: Captain Eckert is a second generation fireman from Collingswood, NJ. He became a career firefighter 2006 with the Camden (NJ) Fire Department. For 5 years Bobby worked at Squad Company 7, the city's busiest suppression unit before his promotion to Captain in 2016. Bobby is a Pro Board Level II Instructor and has a degree in Public Safety Administration from Newman University. Captain Eckert is the author of Eckert Fire Tactics: Tuesdays Are For Tactics, Vol. 1.


MEGAN ELLZY: Firefighter for the City of Alexandria in Virginia, currently serving at firehouse 206 Engine and Rescue Company. Megan is on the City's Technical Rescue team. She is a PETZL EXO instructor, helped with recruit school and department training and is a Fire Ground Survival instructor.


JAMES "GORDO" GORDON: Gordo is a Fire Captain with the Washington DC Fire Department, assigned to Truck Company 11. He was appointed to DC Fire in 1996, serving in Engine 10 and then Rescue Squad 1. He also is a frequent instructor at the DC Fire & EMS Academy. Gordo has previously worked for Manassas Fire Department and Fort Belvoir Fire Department, as well as volunteering for O.W.L. Fire Department in Woodbridge, VA. He holds several certifications including Fire Instructor Level III and numerous technical rescue certifications.


DANIEL HARKER: Dan joined the fire service in 2000. He advanced through the ranks and served as Fire Chief of the Neptune Township (NJ) Fire Department in 2015-2016. Dan has been awarded the Medal of Valor three times by the Monmouth County Fire Marshal's Office and once by the 200 Club of Monmouth County. Dan presently serves as a lieutenant and the training officer for Neptune FD - Station 4. He is a member with the township's Special Operations Technical Rescue Team and attended over 150 hours of USAR training with NJ-TF1. Dan is a NJ DFS Certified Fire Instructor and is a certified Emergency Medical Technician.


PAUL HASHAGEN: Paul Hashagen has over 40 years in the fire service. He joined the FDNY and was assigned to Engine 74, then to Ladder 25. He became a member of Rescue Company 1 in 1983 where he spent the next 20 years. Paul is a member of Freeport Fire Department - Truck 1 in Nassau County, Long Island where he also served as Chief of Department. Paul is an accomplished author - having written several books and numerous stories on the history of the fire service including Fire Department City of New York: The Bravest; An Illustrated History 1865-2002; and One Hundred Years of Valor: Rescue Company 1 New York City Fire Department Rescue 1915-2015. He is also well known for his cartoons. Paul has instructed firefighter across the United States and is an incredible ambassador of the fire service.


JOEL KANASKY: Joel Kanasky is a Logistics Section Chief for FEMA Urban Search & Rescue and is also a retired member of New York City’s Rescue Company 1 in Manhattan. Before joining the FDNY, Joel was a firefighter with the Alexandria VA Fire Department and also served as a Sergeant in the US Marine Corps. Joel instructions nationally on Technical Rescue operations and a large variety of other fire and rescue topics.


CHAD LALLIER: Chad has been with the City of Alexandria Fire Department in Virginia since 1998, and served as a Battalion Chief assigned to Special Operations. He started his firefighting career in 1990 mostly assigned to Engine Co's. Prior to his promotion to Battalion Chief, Chad served as a Captain on the Rescue Squad - part of the Technical Rescue Team. Chad has over 27 years as a Volunteer serving at every rank to include Fire Chief in Prince George's County Maryland. Chad is an instructor in many disciplines, including instructing Fire Recruit Academies, Fire Ground Survival training, SCBA Emergencies, Air Consumption and Air Management, Personal Escape Systems, FFI & II, Driver Pump Operator, Swiftwater Rescue, Ice Rescue and others. Chad is a certified Fire Officer IV and Instructor III. He also has extensive training in Technical Rescue disciplines to include FEMA Structural Collapse Specialist and Rescue Squad Officer.


VINNY LAZZARA: Vinny joined the fire service in 1990. He serves as a chief officer in Howell Township (NJ), and is also a past-chief in Freehold (NJ). Since 2011, Vinny has been a member of NJ Task Force 1 USAR and is assigned as a Search Technician and Swift Water Rescue component. He is also an instructor for the USAR team. Vinny is a NJ State Certified Instructor in addition to holding numerous USAR technician level certifications.


PAUL MASTRONARDI: Paul was appointed to the FDNY in 1996 and was assigned to Engine Company 280 in Brooklyn. Through the years, Paul was assigned to Squad 252, Rescue Company 4 and served as Lieutenant in Squad Company 1 until his retirement in 2022. He was an instructor at the FDNY Technical Rescue School and presently serves as a Deputy Chief Instructor at the Suffolk County Fire Academy on Long Island. Paul holds a Bachelor of Science degree. He started in the fire service as a volunteer with the Holbrook Volunteer Fire Department in 1989.


PATRICK MCGHEE: Pat currently serves as a career firefighter assigned to Rescue 1 in the City of Perth Amboy, NJ. He also currently serves as a Rescue Specialist/Paramedic at University Hospital EMS Rescue 1, providing technical rescue for the City of Newark, NJ along with Newark FD and Newark PD. He began his journey in the fire service as a volunteer in Iselin Fire District 9, NJ. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Fire Science from NJCU, NJ Division of Fire Safety Level 1 Fire Instructor and Fire Investigator, as well as a paramedic certificate.


NICHOLAS MIGLIACCI: Nick joined the fire service in 2011 as a volunteer firefighter. In 2013 he was hired as a career firefighter with the City of Trenton Fire Department and in 2020 promoted to Captain. He is currently assigned to Engine Company 1, which specializes in hazardous materials, water rescue, and underwater recovery. Nick is a NJ State Division of Fire Safety Level II Fire Instructor and assists with the departments recruit academies teaching a variety of topics. He has been an EMT since 2012 and holds numerous technical rescue certifications in addition to being a fire investigator.


PATRICK MOSES: Pat started in the fire service in 1997 as a volunteer with the Ocean Grove NJ Fire Department. For two years he was a career firefighter for the National Park Service - Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. He then served for 12 years as a career firefighter in Delaware and South Carolina, assigned to Rescue and Ladder companies. As a firefighter in Mount Pleasant (SC), Pat was a member of the technical rescue team, assigned as a "mentor" on his shift and also served as an instructor for Firefighter Survival, Rapid Intervention and other firefighting operations. Pat presently is the Assistant Chief of Beach Operations with the Ocean Grove NJ Beach Patrol and works with fire departments developing there ocean rescue services.


PATRICK MURPHY: "Murph" was appointed to the Jersey City Fire Department in 1999. He worked in Squad Company 4 and in 2004 assigned to Rescue 1. Over the years he received extensive technical rescue training through USAI in structural collapse, trench, confined space and high angle rope rescue. In 2016, Murph was promoted to the rank of Captain and assigned to Tower Ladder 4. He now serves as a Captain at Jersey City's Rescue Company 1. Murph is a Hazmat Technician, a NJ DFS Level 2 fire instructor and is an instructor at the Somerset County Fire Academy.


JOHN NOVAK: John has been in the fire service since 1976, presently serving as a Chief Officer with Toms River Fire District 1 and the Leader of the Regional Urban Strike Team for Ocean County. He is the Deputy Director of the Toms River Fire Academy where he has developed and teaches numerous courses including Pump Operations, Fire Officer 1 and 2, Incident Management and many others. John has previously worked as a career DOD firefighter at Naval Weapons Station Earle and as a Crash Rescue Firefighter for the 177th Fighter Wing at Atlantic City Airport. John holds a BS degree from Columbia Southern University, a Associates Degree in Fire Science from Ocean County College and an HHS Fire and Fire Subcode license. He is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.


CHRIS OSTRARTICKI: Chris is a Firefighter/EMT with the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Fire Department in New Jersey. His emergency services career spans over 15 years, which includes being an active volunteer with the Brick Township Fire Department. Chris is a NJ Certified Instructor, a DOD/IFSAC Instructor and a Vehicle Rescue instructor. He is a Technical Rescue Technician in Rope Rescue, Confined Space Rescue, Trench Rescue, Ice Rescue, Water Rescue and is a Hazmat Tech and an authorized instructor for all of the leading NFPA-certified escape systems.


VALTER PIRES: Valter is a firefighter with the City of Newark NJ Fire Department and is assigned to Rescue Company 1. In 2018, he received a Valor Award from the 200 Club for a water rescue in the Passaic River. Valter served in the United States Marine Corp., having served two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Valter is a NJ Division of Fire Safety Instructor and also serves as a volunteer firefighter in Middlesex County, NJ.


ROBERT POLICHT: Rob Policht is a member of the Passaic (NJ) Fire Department assigned to Ladder Company 1. He started his career as a volunteer where he served as the Chief of Department and training officer for the Allendale (NJ) Fire Department. He is a level two instructor at the Bergen County Fire Academy and has been published in Fire Engineering and FireRescue magazines. Policht has multiple certifications including firefighter II, fire officer II, swift water tech, fire investigator and emergency medical technician. Policht has a master’s degree in emergency management and homeland security from Arizona State University. He is a founder and contributor of Flow and Vent, a site dedicated to fire and rescue training. He is a recipient of an FMBA Valor Award for water rescues during Hurricane Ida in September 2021.


JON SENCHISEN: Jon has been in the fire service for over 16 years, having spent the last 11 years with Hillsborough Township Volunteer Fire Company #2. He assists his department with health and safety as their Safety & Compliance Officer, including training and drill development. Jon has also been a member of the Somerset County Hazardous Materials Emergency Response Team since 2012, where he has become a Pro Board® certified Hazardous Material Technician. In his professional career, Jon has worked in the Environmental, Health & Safety (EH&S) industry for over 18 years. He is a certified OSHA General Industry Outreach Trainer and has experience in presenting various subjects, including; Powered Industrial Vehicles (PIVs), Bloodborne Pathogens, Hazard Communication (Right-To-Know) & GHS, Hearing Conservation & Protection, Hot Work Safety, Control of Hazardous Energy (Lockout / Tagout), Permit Required Confined Space Entry, Fall Prevention & Protection, and Respiratory Protection with Qualitative & Quantitative Fit Testing.


BILLY SIEGRIST: Bill is a member of the Wayne Fire Department since 1981 and a members of the Technical Rope Rescue / Confined Space Rescue / HazMat Response element of the Wayne Fire Department Special Response team since 1984. Bill is a Fire Academy Instructor Level II/Drill Ground instructor since 1992, working at the Passaic County Fire Academy since 1992. There he instructs Firefighter I and II curriculum, as well as being a lead instructor for Technical Rope Rescue/Confined Space Training programs for the Fire/EMS Divisions. He is also a New Jersey State Police Hazardous Material Response Unit (NJSP-HMRU) Certified Confined Space trainer since 1993. He has held every fire line officer position including the rank of Chief. Bill is a Construction Project Manager/Engineer by trade, having received his BSCE from NJIT in 1981. Working with the Army Corps of Engineers in Military Construction for 8 years and active in the Heavy Construction industry for the past 36 years.


BRYAN STANISLAWSKI: Bryan has been a career firefighter with the Bayonne NJ Fire Department since 1997 and presently holds the rank of Battalion Chief. He is also a Rescue Squad Officer with NJ Task Force 1, serving with the state's USAR team since 2006. He is a NJ Division of Fire Safety Level 2 instructor and also earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Fire Science from New Jersey City University.


MICHAEL TERPAK: Michael Terpak has been in the fire service for 40 years spending the last 36 years with the Jersey City NJ Fire Department where he is assigned as a Deputy Chief and City-Wide Tour Commander. Throughout his career he has worked in the city’s Lafayette and Greenville areas with Engines 10 & 17, Ladder 12, Rescue 1, Chief of the city’s 2nd Battalion and the former Chief in-charge of the city’s Training Division. In addition to the above, he is also the High-Rise Training Coordinator for Jersey City. Chief Terpak, who also holds a BS degree in Fire Safety Administration from the City University of New Jersey, is the author of five best-selling books, “Fire Ground Size-Up” , “Assessment Center Strategy and Tactics” ,“Fire Ground Operational Guides” “Assessment Center Management and Supervision” and Fire Officer Oral Assessment Study Guides.”


JIM THORNTON: Jim joined the fire service in 2013 and currently serves as a Firefighter/EMT with the City of Rahway Fire Department. He is a NJ Division of Fire Safety Level 1 fire instructor and also a Swiftwater Rescue Technician. In March 2016, Jim and his platoon were the recipients of a prestigious FMBA Valor Award for their work at a fire.


WELLS WILSON: Captain Wilson has been with the Alexandria VA Fire Department since 2006 and served as Captain at Station 6, which is an Engine and Rescue Company. He serves as the program manager for the AFD’s Technical Rescue Team and also an instructor at Alexandria’s Fire Academy, where he teaches Firefighter 1 and Firefighter 2, Pump Ops, Rapid Intervention, Technical Rescue skills and Petzl EXO Escape Systems. Wells joined the fire service in 1999 with the East Franklin Fire Department in Somerset, NJ. He is a life member and served as a line officer up through the rank of Assistant Chief before being hired in Alexandria.


FRANK VISCUSO: Deputy Chief Frank Viscuso served more than 26 years on the Kearny (NJ) Fire Department. He is the author of seven books, including the best-sellers Step Up and Lead, Step Up Your Teamwork, and Common Valor. Frank is a highly sought after, internationally recognized speaker who has the ability to move people to action. Frank has been chosen to be a Keynote speaker for NASA in 2019. His keynotes and seminars are designed to introduce people to the top traits associated with leadership and to equip them with the skills needed to lead, inspire, and motivate their teams.


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