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When our residents call for help they are expecting well-trained and competent firefighters to assist them. They really do not care if those showing up are being paid or volunteering to help them out. Isn't it fair to expect those showing up to help are dedicated professionals delivering a professional service representing a professional organization? Don't you expect professionals to be teaching your children? Working on your car? Showing up when you need Police assistance? Our residents expect it from their local fire department as well. We cannot say “But we’re just volunteers” and use that as an excuse for poor performance, inappropriate behavior, or treating citizens, or our own members, in a bad way. We can’t blame being a volunteer firefighter for not having our ship in order at the firehouse either, and when a community member steps forward to join their local volunteer fire department, they are looking to be part of a professionally run organization. They want to be accepted into a membership that treats them with respect, cares for their welfare and are interested in developing them into productive and competent member.


This website, my podcasts, articles and presentations are all dedicated to helping  firefighters earn the title "Professional Firefighter" and help guide their department in professional direction and achieve a professional reputation. Think of it as professional development for the professional firefighter. Our fire service is the greatest profession in the world. The ranks are filled with hard working, dedicated, caring and extremely competent members. At all times, those members should strive to be professional firefighters, whether paid or volunteer.


Our residents are owed professional service, delivered by professional firefighters, representing professional organizations. 

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Developing, displaying and maintaining a professional image and reputation are the duty and responsibility of ALL firefighters-paid or volunteer!

Tom Merrill - Fire Commissioner/Past Chief of Department

Tom Merrill is a 39-year fire department veteran and serves with the Snyder Fire Department, which is located in Amherst, New York (first ring suburb of the City of Buffalo). He served 26 years as a department officer including 15 years in the chief officer ranks. He was chief of department from 2007-2012 and currently serves as a Fire Commissioner for the Snyder Fire District. Tom has conducted various fire service presentations throughout the country including FDIC, The National Volunteer Fire Council Training Summit, VCOS and many other national, state and regional conferences.

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My Programs

Professional Development for the Volunteer Firefighter

I offer a variety of programs, presentations and keynote addresses that are designed exclusively for the volunteer fire service. We all know times are changing fast, and we are facing challenges like never before. But, our world today dictates that we run a professional operation in our volunteer firehouse. I would be honored to come to your firehouse, conference or department banquet to discuss what it takes to earn the badge of a true, professional firefighter.

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