U.S. Fire Administrator Kelvin Cochran

Kelvin Cochran was appointed administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) on Aug. 27, 2009. Cochran has 28 years of experience in preventing and responding to fires and emergencies, including...


Kelvin Cochran was appointed administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) on Aug. 27, 2009. Cochran has 28 years of experience in preventing and responding to fires and emergencies, including firefighting, EMS, hazardous materials, public...


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COCHRAN: From my childhood up to now, I can think of people who have made a difference and have encouraged me directly or indirectly to pursue my dreams. As a 5-year-old kid, seeing a fire across the street from where I lived, really planted the dream to become a firefighter when I grew up. Stories from people who would tell me if you want your dream to come true, you have to believe in God, get a good education, respect grown people, treat other's children like you want to be treated. Those values really led me to where I am today. Actually, having people along the way such as teachers, grandparents, people in the neighborhood, friends, colleagues that I looked up to and admired along the way that encouraged me really had an impact.

My fire service career started from the time I was in the recruit academy. The training officers were so impressive and inspiring; they caused me to want to become a training officer one day. Becoming a training officer and observing a lot closer the leadership of fire chiefs and the chief training officer inspired me to want to reach higher. I always had positive role models in the fire service that I was blessed to interact with. Observing their leadership impact, where they were and how they served made me feel like I could be like them. I pursued my dream to follow in their footsteps. It has proved to be beneficial and fulfilling.

A final note: Administrator Cochran leaves us with the thought that we need more face-to-face dialogue where fire service leaders get together to encourage and inspire one another. Meaningful conferences with fire service organizations where we talk about the real issues and what we intend to do about them will strengthen us and make us more encouraged and inspired. Perhaps it is time for an old-fashioned national fire service revival.

Administrator Cochran believes the concept of a song learned as a child applies to building and strengthening fire service relationships and strengthening us through tough times, "The More We Get Together, The Happier We Will Be." His inspiring presentation, "Becoming FULLY INVOLVED," can be viewed online at IAFC-TV, http://www.tvworldwide.com/events/iafc/090825/default.cfm?id=11477&type=wmhigh&test=0.

CHARLES L. WERNER, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a 34-year veteran of the fire service and chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department. He serves on the Virginia Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee, Virginia Secure Commonwealth Panel, National Public Safety Telecommunications Council Governing Board and IAFC Communications Committee. Werner is chair of the IAFC Technology Council, first vice president of the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association and chair of the DHS SAFECOM Executive Committee.