University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Fire and Emergency Response Management graduate Tim Whitham, MS, EFO is teaching a pair of Core Education courses at Fire-Rescue International, the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Conference and Expo, this weekend (Aug. 7-10, 2019) in Atlanta.

Whitham has been the Fire Chief in Edwardsville, Kan., since 2015 and also serves as an Adjunct Faculty Member in the College of Safety and Emergency Services at Columbia Southern University.

Whitham’s courses at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) will concentrate on developing best practices for fire department leadership and helping fire departments of all sizes implement fire prevention strategies in a variety of settings.

“My first [session at FRI] investigates leadership rules of engagement for officers,” Whitham said. “It is designed to give participants a guide or a template to work from. Twenty-eight different leadership styles have been identified, but most of the fire officer handbooks for certification purposes only cover about four. None of [the text books] teach you what to do or what not to do.

“The class really focuses on traits that have been successful for company officers when out talking to people, but you have to do the same thing with your employees when you’re in the firehouse. You can’t just bark orders because you have that rank and title to go with it.”

The next course on Whitham’s FRI 2019 schedule will discuss how departments of all sizes can initiate programs to carry out inspections.

“The second class I’m teaching is about conducting fire prevention services for company officers,” Whitham said. “It is geared toward introducing how to establish a program and how you develop those company officers to become responsible for performing those inspections when you don’t have a fire prevention branch.

“[Fire and emergency response personnel] can’t go out and buy a book to understand how the prevention model and fire codes work, not to mention what needs to be done to start an inspection.”

Whitham highlighted two major factors of UW Oshkosh online degree programs that helped him become regarded as an expert in the field, the first being the asynchronous course structure.

“My experience at UW Oshkosh was great,” Whitham said. “I could complete my UW Oshkosh undergraduate work while I was going through the Executive Fire Officer program at the National Fire Academy.

“I flourished academically and professionally with UW Oshkosh because I could set my own schedule. Online learning was a great platform for me because it allowed flexibility of life to occur.”

Whitham praised the responsive and influential faculty of all UW Oshkosh online courses as the second factor.

“I had professors who pushed me to think outside of the box. It didn’t matter if it was the general education requirements or the core requirements for my degree. The professors were top-notch and pushed me to succeed. Some of them even pushed me to keep going in higher education.”

After completing his undergraduate coursework at UWO, Whitham went on to obtain a master’s degree in Disaster Preparedness and Executive Fire Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

“I was prepared for my graduate degree experience at the master’s level. I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t get that encouragement from the UW Oshkosh professors.”

When asked about his favorite UW Oshkosh course, Whitham could not pick one in particular.

“I even enjoyed the difficult math courses because I had good professors who explained the process to us. There really was not a bad course that I had. I was there to learn and really tried to take away everything that I could from each course. The courses are what you make of them.”

To learn more about the bachelor of applied science degree in Fire and Emergency Response Management at UW Oshkosh, please visit https://uwosh.edu/go/ferm.

Original story appears at https://uwosh.edu/online/future-students/success-stories/ .

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