West Virginia Fire Service Leadership Academy

As of 31-Mar-2023 the WVLA had been Canceled

If you already signed up – refunds will be sent the week of 15-April-2023 – questions?  please send to [email protected]

Advance your Firefighting Career at the MissionCIT Leadership Academy, sponsored by Nitro FD

The academy begins on Thursday, May 4th with check-in/registration from 11:00a-1:00p. Welcome address and breakout sessions follow.

 When:   May 4-7, 2023

 Where:  Mardi Gras Casino & Resort

 What:    4 Days – 22 Sessions – 10 Speakers

 Price:     Early Bird $325 per attendee

                 After 5-April-2023 $375

Advance Payment Required

Click on Course Registration to Sign Up


As of 31-Mar-2023 – no further signups are being accepted as the event is canceled.

MissionCIT, LLC, in partnership with the Nitro Fire Department is proud to present the 1st Annual Nitro Leadership Academy on May 4th-7th, 2023.

This four-day training event features renowned fire service leaders and speakers from across the country.

Nitro WV Fire Department

We will be gathering in Nitro, West Virginia at the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort to present two (2) keynote speakers and twenty (20) 90-min breakout sessions and command-themed topics.  This is an exciting opportunity to learn from some of the best fire service leaders in the country.  The group of distinguished officers has presented at FDIC, FRI, IAFC Symposium in the Sun, and numerous state/local conferences.  Come learn from these leaders and network with firefighters from across the state of West Virginia and beyond.

Nationally Recognized Key Note Speakers

Key Note: Courage Under Fire Leadership: Leadership Starts with Us

Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski

Santa Clara (CA) Fire Department

Steve Prziborowski has over 31 years of fire service experience, recently retiring as a Deputy Chief with the Santa Clara County (CA) Fire Department. He is an adjunct instructor for the Chabot College (CA) Fire Technology Program, a Contract Instructor for the National Fire Academy (MD) and is still actively involved in the fire service through speaking, writing, coaching, and mentoring personnel aspiring to either get hired or get promoted.

Key Note: Recruiting for the Fire Service and all other Religions

Deputy Chief Tiger Schmittendorf

Erie County (NY) Fire Department

Tiger Schmittendorf is Vice President of Strategic Recruitment & Retention Services for First Arriving, a full-service marketing and technology team supporting the public safety community and headquartered in Richmond VA. He served the Erie County Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (Buffalo, NY) for more than 20 years before retiring as deputy fire coordinator in 2018. He created a recruitment effort that doubled his own fire department’s membership and helped net thousands of new volunteers countywide. A frequent presenter on leadership, incident management, connecting generations, and volunteer recruitment and retention.

Tiger Schmittendorf

Networking Social Event on Friday May 5th

MissionCIT will be hosting a Networking Social Event on Friday May 5 from 4:30p – 6:00p  which is included in the registration fee. 

Well Known Academy Instructors - 1 of 2

Captain Matt Aalto

Matt Aalto

Presently, I serve Gaston Fire District as a Captain and Training Officer and am a member of the IAFF Local 1660. I am a contract instructor for the IAFC and national R&R SME speaker.

Bill Stacy

William Stacy

Co-owner of FDpromotionprep. Help firefighters get on the job and also help firefighters with promotion to all ranks. Adjunct instructor at Ct fire academy.

Jason Decremer

Jason Decremer

Jason Decremer, PhD – is now the full-time leader of MissionCIT’s Testing and Strategy Practice. Formerly, Director of Certification for the Connecticut Commission on Fire Prevention and Control. He was responsible for over 40 levels of national certification testing for approximately 20,000 firefighters statewide.

Mark Waters, M.S., EFO, Consultant

Mark Waters

Battalion Chief Mark Waters, M.S., EFO is a Battalion Chief/ Shift Commander for the City of New London Connecticut Fire Department and a Program Planner with the Connecticut Fire Academy. He has been in the fire service for over 33 years and has served in Volunteer, Combination, and Career Fire Departments.

Agenda: 4 Days - 22 Sessions

Thursday May 4, 2023 | Schedule

Opening Remarks: Chief Casey Mathes & MissionCIT

From the Jump Seat to the Front Seat – Deputy Chief Mark Waters

Onboarding New Firefighters – Jason Decremer, PhD         

Volunteer fire departments are constantly recruiting new members into their ranks. One of the most important but often overlooked steps in the recruitment process is onboarding new firefighters. The long-term retention of firefighters begins with the onboarding process. This course will examine and detail the best practices for onboarding new firefighters by taking participants through a series of strategies that will help ensure your department has a properly managed onboarding process that leads to long-term retention of firefighters. 

Incident Scene Size-Up – Captain Peter Morotto and Lt. Derek Currao

Friday May 5, 2023 | Schedule

Courage Under Fire Leadership:     Leadership Starts with Us – Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski

Audience:                   All ranks

Time:                          90 minutes (or less to accommodate welcome remarks)

Course Description: 

Leadership starts with each one of us. If we cannot be a leader of one (ourselves), how can we expect to be a leader of any? The focus of this session is to have each attendee look in the mirror at some of the leadership challenges we all face as individuals, both on and off the job, knowing many also have part or full-time positions outside of the fire service. Leadership is for all ranks and does not discriminate. Many leaders talk the talk without a problem but then struggle with the walk-the-walk part. The most important part of being a leader is leading by example, doing the right thing, and caring for those you are fortunate to lead and serve! Various examples will be shared and discussed in a productive and non-punitive manner so that attendees can reflect on their own situation and then be provided with tips for success in the future, both in their personal and professional lives!

10 Commandments of Great Fire Service Professional – Deputy Chief Steve Prziborowski

Audience:                   All ranks

Time:                          90 minutes (or less to accommodate welcome remarks)

Course Description: 

This session is intended for fire service professionals of all ranks (especially current and future fire officers) who are open to suggestions for improvement and best practices. Sadly, many personnel of all ranks (including officers) are just phoning it in or have “retired in place.” Attendees will be exposed to the Ten Commandments of a Great Fire Service Professional. Areas discussed include but are not limited to leadership, career and officer development, team building, emergency scene operations, mentoring and succession planning.

Solid Strategies Create Aggressive Tactics – Captain Peter Morotto

Enjoy at one of the local Mardi Gras Restaurants (not included in your fees)

Recruiting for the Long Term – Jason Decremer, PhD

This course is a dynamic discussion on using non-traditional recruitment and retention (R&R) methods to maximize membership in volunteer fire departments. The course begins with an overview of the volunteer life cycle, moves into public service motivation (PSM), how to use PSM to develop interview tactics and questions, and concludes with a focus on recruiting for the long term. This is not a lecture program. Audience participation is a key component of the course.  Everything you do in R&R should be done to positively affect your department 20 years into the future. Be prepared to get engaged and problem-solve.   

Taking on the Role and Maximizing Success of a New Company Officer | Presented by Lieutenant Derek Currao

Strategy & Tactics for Officer Development | Captain William Stacy

With the current state of EMS staffing, the Fire Service is starting to fill the void by providing ALS and BLS-level care and in some cases, transporting patients to the hospital. This program will cover the basics of EMS leadership in the fire service in an interactive fun format.

Generations and Motivations – Captain Matt Aalto

MissionCIT will be hosting a Networking Social Event on Friday May 5th, which is included in the registration fee.

Saturday May 6, 2023 | Schedule

Welcome and Key Note Address – Recruiting for the Fire Service and all other Religions – Deputy Chief Tiger Schmittendorf

Recruiting for the volunteer fire service is not much different than recruiting for other ‘religions’ as most volunteers are faithful and devoted. We can certainly “witness” that volunteering can be a religious experience for some. What some call “finding religion,” we call “giving them the bug,” and once they’re hooked, we’ve got ’em!

This somewhat tongue-in-cheek presentation will connect volunteer fire, and EMS recruitment and retention strategies and tactics and similar methods other organizations use to bring people together towards a common mission of serving others.

It’s easy to tell the difference between those who have the fire service in their blood and those who do not. But it’s like anything else that can get in your blood, and it can hurt you, harm you, and even kill you if you let it burn too deep.

While there are several similarities, there are also distinct differences. Life in the fire service is a volunteering opportunity like absolutely no other. In what other setting do we ask for a minimum of a long-term, but preferably a life-long commitment right from the start? The way we recruit volunteers is the equivalent of asking someone to marry you on the first date.

And speaking of marriage, we’re not really recruiting firefighters and EMTs; we’re recruiting who we call sisters and brothers, contributing members of our fire service [second] family who we hope to teach the mechanics of fire and emergency services too.


Just like our faith, the fire service is our gift to carry but not to hold. Our goal should not be to waste it away or let it slip away but instead to give it away openly, freely, willingly, and with a sense of urgency.


Expectations and Accountability – Captain Matt Aalto
Customer Service in EMS – Captain Chris Brown

Today’s fire and EMS services are a service-based profession; we respond to a person in need no matter the emergency. Our responsibility is to provide the highest level of service, professional and customer-centered, to every citizen we serve. 

With the current political, social, and economic climate, our governments are looking to cut our budgets and personnel. As public safety leaders, we are responsible to our customers to provide timely, professional, economically sound, and friendly service. This will ensure our future and stability in our communities.

Customer service training will set the framework for good customer service and organizational expectations. This training and a sustained customer survey program will lead to continued, service-oriented Fire and Emergency services.

Enjoy one of the fine Mardi Gras Restaurants (not included in your package)  

The Volunteer Fire Service Retention Cliff | Deptuy Chief Tiger Schmittendorf

There’s no limit to theories of why the fire service finds itself racing around like a roadrunner to find solutions to recruiting and retaining volunteers.

My non-fiction “Retention Cliff” theory uses familiar characters and storylines to depict how so many fire and EMS agencies have gone from being flush with volunteers–to flushing their  volunteers–while the member pipeline has seemingly run dry. We’ll break down the four demographics of our fire service, and how and why we find our organizations on the brink of either sheer greatness, or utter collapse at any moment.

Most importantly, this conversation ends with a “That’s NOT All Folks!” message of hope and together we’ll scheme a cartoon-concocted construction plan for building a rope bridge to the  other side of volunteer recruitment and retention success.

Collaborative Leadership – Captain William Stacy
Commanding the RIT – Captain Peter Morotto
New Officer’s Owners Manual – Lieutenant Jeff Pinckney 

Sunday May 7, 2023 | Schedule

Welcome remarks for the day

Moving Your Department Forward – Lieutenant Jeff Pinckney
EMS Leadership During Crisis – Captain Chris Brown

With the current state of EMS staffing, the Fire Service is starting to fill the void by providing ALS and BLS-level care and in some cases, transporting patients to the hospital. This program will cover the basics of EMS leadership in the fire service in an interactive fun format.

All Hands On Deck – Career and Life Lessons of Leadership – MissionCIT Staff

Well Known Academy Instructors - 2 of 2

Pete Morotto

Pete Morotto

Captain Peter Morotto “To be the best, train with the best “… Peter Morotto currently serves as a Captain for the city of Bridgeport CT, fire department and leads the MissionCIT Fire Service Training Practice. He has been in the fire service for 25 years, educated in fire science from the University of New Haven, and attaining the fire Officer 4 certification level.

Lieutenant Jeff Pinckney, Fairfield Fire

Jeff Pinckney

Jeff is an instructor with the Fairfield Regional Fire School and a member of their Special Operations Division, specializing in Hazmat, Confined Space, and Water Rescue. Additionally, Jeff works as a Paramedic in Fairfield and New Haven Counties. A 25-year EMS & Fire Service Veteran, he is currently serving as a Lieutenant with the Fairfield Fire Department and holds CT EMS-I instructor certifications in numerous EMS disciplines..

Lieutenant Derek Currao

Derek Currao

Lieutenant Derek Currao serves as a Lieutenant with the City of Bridgeport Fire Department, including the department’s rescue company, and as the on-shift safety officer. Derek is passionate about teaching firefighters and works as an instructor for the CT Fire Academy and regional and private companies.

Fire Service Training

Chris Brown

Chris has over 30 years in Fire and EMS, a self-motivated, customer service-centered, and progress-driven Fire and EMS leader. Currently, he is an Operations Supervisor with Valley Emergency Medical Services (VEMS) and retired Captain of EMS/Hazardous Materials with the Milford Fire Department.

List of Academy Instructors

  • Captain Matt Aalto – Captain Gaston (OR) Fire Department

  • Captain Chris Brown – Captain Milford (CT) Fire Department

  • Lieutenant Derek Currao – Bridgeport (CT) Fire Department

  • Jason Decremer – Southbury (CT) Fire Department

  • Captain Peter Morotto – Bridgeport (CT) Fire Department

  • Lieutenant Jeff Pinckney – Fairfield (CT) Fire Department

  • Deputy Chief Steve Priziborowski – Santa Clara (CA) Fire Department

  • Deputy Chief Tiger Schmittendorf – Erie County (NY) Fire Department

  • Captain William Stacy – West Haven (CT) Fire Department

  • Battalion Chief Mark Waters – New London (CT) Fire Department

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About Us

MissionCIT provides EMS education, Fire Service Training, Entry & Promotional Testing, and Professional Services for public safety, focusing on the Fire Service.