Bullhead City firefighter committed to learning
BULLHEAD CITY — Everyone sets goals. Josh Livermore’s goal is to keep improving himself, and his employer, the Bullhead City Fire Department.
One objective he set for himself was getting into the National Fire Academy.
“It was on my list for personal development,” Livermore said. “My plan for things I (eventually) wanted to do.”
While it’s rare for a captain to get into the academy’s Executive Fire Officer program, he was accepted in 2014.
“I was a little surprised that I was accepted the first time I applied,” Livermore said.
He had just started a master’s degree program, and the good news meant that would have to be scaled back.
He said that he thinks his role as program director at the Mohave Community College fire academy and involvement in leadership roles within the department boosted his application.
Livermore said he knew the academy would be rigorous, as befits a prestigious program known for developing department leaders and executive officers.
The four-year program consisted of two weeks of study each year at the academy campus in Emmitsburg, Maryland, with an extensive research project due each year.
Livermore likened the research project to a master’s thesis. His were 40 to 80 pages in length, and each covered an issue of importance to the BHCFD that tied in with that year’s curriculum.
He said that many of the ideas generated in his research projects already have been implemented within the BHCFD.
One of the most important benefits of attending the academy, Livermore said, was the networking he was able to do. He said he still calls his classmates on a regular basis to discuss ideas with them.
He said that upon arriving in Emmitsburg, he had his photo taken and went through a background check, typical steps that go along with participating in a federal program.
“It was all pretty casual, for the most part,” he recalled. “Until we started class.”
At that point, Livermore said, the standard routine was a full day of classes, followed by an evening of homework.
The academy campus is 15 minutes from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Civil War battle site. Livermore said one whole day last year was spent at the site, with instructors working the Battle of Gettysburg into lessons on leadership.
The academy was an “amazing environment,” he said, and staffed by forward-thinking leaders.
Livermore said that since he completed the program, he has been talking to his shiftmates about applying.
“I know it’s a commitment to take time from your family,” he said. “But what it does for your perspective and outlook in career development is huge.”
The fire academy’s cost is largely borne by the federal government. The BHCFD’s only burden, Livermore said, was allowing him to use education leave to attend, and the cost of replacing him on duty.
His absence during the classes meant changes for his family. His wife, Rebecca, had to pick up the slack while he was away, Livermore said.
“She was just as glad as I was when I received the notice of completion,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have a very supportive and understanding wife.”
The pair have three children ages 6 to 13.
Livermore, a fourth-generation firefighter, said he actually grew up wanting to be a police officer. The minimum age of 21 delayed his plans, he said, and while he planned to join the military before starting his law enforcement career, he decided in 2000 to test for the fire academy.
“I just fell in love with it,” he said. “There was just no looking back.”
Now a battalion chief, Livermore said he believes that the academy certification will give him more career options. He said he is prepared to spend his entire career with the BHCFD, as he expects great things to happen in the department and in the community.
“I look forward to being part of it,” he said.
Interim fire chief Patrick Moore said that Livermore’s completion of the programs will bring definite benefits to the BHCFD.
“The interaction, networking and information sharing (are) critical to our organizational growth,” Moore said. “Successfully completing the program requires a significant dedication from the student, successful academic skills, support from the candidates organization and their family. We are proud to have Chief Livermore in our organization.”