Expo Profile: Chris Flatley, Jerry Knapp and Tim Pillsworth

The popular trio of Chris Flatley, Jerry Knapp and Tim Pillsworth return to Firehouse Expo in 2014. Find out more about their "Critical Skills for Engine Company Success?" program.

What will attendees to your program walk away with?

A new and complete understanding of our most important play on the fireground: getting decisive amounts of water on the fire quickly and effectively. Additionally, an equally critical concept examines the fire attack system and how to train and evaluate your engine company as a system, from the intake side of the pump to the discharge side of the nozzle. Topics covered include the pump and operator, piping, attack lines, nozzle selection and fire attack team.

What is the story behind your class?

Far too many fire companies and departments do not know, have or understand why target flows are important, needed or how to confirm them. The old adage of "if they want more they will ask" is no longer true or safe to do. As we discovered changes in construction, fire loads and heat release rates, we need to change our tactics to keep ourselves safe as well as the communities we swore to protect.

Tell us about your time in the fire service.

Tim Pillsworth has been very active in the volunteer fire service since 1986. I started in a small upstate New York fire department which showed me the importance, brotherhood, and value of the volunteer fire service and how it relates to the community. It showed me that the volunteer fire service is much larger than just one person and the need to work together and share information to make where we are safer. I am currently a past chief with the Winona Lake Engine Company in the Town of Newburgh and a firefighter in Washingtonville, N.Y. After almost 30 years, I have been given the opportunity to share what I have learned and researched over the years to help the fire service become safer in the future.

Jerry Knapp is a 40-year veteran firefighter/EMT with the West Haverstraw, N.Y., Fire Department and is a training officer at the Rockland County Fire Training Center in Pomona, N.Y. I am a battalion chief, Rockland County Hazmat Task Force team member and a former paramedic. I recently retired from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as the plans and operations specialist, Directorate of Emergency Services.  

Chris Flatley is a 30-year veteran of the fire service and is currently a captain with the FDNY assigned to the Counter Terrorism Task Force and a past chief in a volunteer department. By being able to blend the experience in the both the volunteer and career side, he has the ability to work with and understand the needs of both sides of the fire service isle. Being able to talk, relate, and understand the needs of both the career and volunteer sides, have made sharing information and making it relatable to all easier and more enjoyable. 

What has been the highlight of your career?

Tim Pillsworth - My personal highlight would be earning the opportunity to teach the research I've done and to be an instructor at great conferences such as Firehouse Expo. Currently our data is being used by NIST to conduct more exact testing on air flow and movement from handlines within the fire building.  This reinforces the importance of our work over the past 10 years and will improve the safety of the fire service.

Jerry Knapp -  The highlight of any firefighter's career are the successful rescues and good fire attack operations we have been able to participate in as a member of your company.  After 40 years in the fire service my highlight now is being able to share my experiences with brother and sister firefighters and to learn skills and techniques from them so I can be more effective at the next fire or emergency.

Chris Flatley - There is no single event that I can consider a highlight of my career. There have been many more highs than lows, thankfully. But as I reflect, the challenges that have been presented to me as part of my FDNY career have been life changing. They have made me a better person, leader, and mentor. Remember challenges equal opportunity. What you do with each opportunity is a personal choice. My recommendation - embrace everyone. You never know what you are capable of until you are pushed.

What’s one piece of advice that you can give to Firehouse Expo attendees to make it a great experience?

Do some pre-planning on what classes you would like to attend so you have some daily plan to guide you. Get the education you want and need for your department. Make a "shopping list" of vendors you need to talk to for current and future purchases. Talk to as many instructors you can, ask them questions and network for the future. They are all willing to discuss their work and love for the fire service.

Lastly, enjoy the show! You will be surrounded by some of the best minds and newest concepts in the fire service. Extend your hand, introduce yourself, you never know who that other guy is and how he will help you become a better firefighter unless you meet him! If they are in the same class as you, begin with a shared concern. The person with the answer you seek may be sitting next to you!

The 31st Firehouse Expo will take place in Baltimore, MD, July 15-19, at the Baltimore Convention Center. This year's conference offers over 90 education sessions, including hands-on training, in-depth workshops and classroom sessions. Find out more about Firehouse Expo, the exhibitors who will be showcasing their products and learn how to register go to: FirehouseExpo.com.