The Leadership Track
Welcome to the NVFC Leadership Track, designed for fire and EMS department leaders, including chiefs and officers. This specialized program consists of 10 meticulously crafted courses instructed by prominent subject matter experts. Each course will equip emergency service leaders with the essential skills, knowledge, tools, and mindset required to strengthen their leadership abilities and effectiveness. This program is for new and established leaders looking to continue learning and growing in their roles. The Leadership Track will take an estimated 10 hours to complete from start to finish. Progress will be saved each time a student logs out, ensuring students are able to complete the track at their own pace. Attendees will be provided with a certificate of attendance for each completed course as well as a final certificate indicating completion of the full track.
David W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, is an organizational consultant with more than 15 years of experience as a non-profit executive. His emphasis is on promoting employee well-being and organizational performance through the integration of psychology and business. He has provided research, consultation, and training services to government agencies, industry groups, corporations, medical schools, and universities. Dr. Ballard is the co-editor of the book, The Psychologically Healthy Workplace: Building a Win-Win Environment for Organizations and Employees (APA, 2016).
Travis County Emergency Services
Chris Barron currently serves as the Fire Chief of the Travis County Emergency Services District #5 /Manchaca Fire/Rescue department located just south of Austin, Texas.
Chief Barron has worked diligently in the fire service for over 33 years, serving as Chief for 23 of those years, to increase service delivery performances in the local area and around the state. He has used several performance improvement programs to lead ESD#5 from and all volunteer department, ISO Class 7/9, to a fully staffed ISO Class #2 department.
Barron retired from the State Firefighters’ and Fire Marshals’ Association where he served almost 15 years as the Executive Director. Barron was responsible for the administration and oversight of the 23,000-member organization representing first responders in Texas and central and south America. While serving as Executive Director, he was responsible for several initiatives benefiting Texas first responders including the Texas wildfire fund and Hurricane Harvie relief programs, authoring and successfully awarded three Department of Homeland Security SAFER grants and oversight of the construction of the new headquarters building.
In 2019, Chief Barron started his own consulting company to assist emergency services across the nation on their challenges, improving performance and recruitment/retention efforts. His focus with his business is to assist fire departments facing challenging times with staffing, volunteer workforce reductions, organizational changes, and leadership challenges. He is also working with departments on performing fire department assessments, funding resources, and developing marketing and strategic plans.
Barron has received numerous leadership and organizational awards for his leadership including the John Buckman Leadership Award, the IAFC/VCOS Recruitment/Retention Award and in 2014, Chief Barron was awarded the International Association of Fire Chief's Chief of the Year Award amongst a nationwide group of colleagues.
Barron holds numerous fire certifications, and an Associates in Fire Protection, Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Business Administration.
Battalion Chief of Operations
City of Shelby
Chief Cash has been in the fire service since 1995 starting as a junior volunteer firefighter and currently serving as Assistant Chief of Training and Safety with the Cherryville Fire Department in Cherryville, NC. He began as a career firefighter with the City of Shelby, NC in 2005, where he currently holds the rank of Battalion Chief of Operations over C-Platoon since 2015.
Chief Cash holds a Master’s of Business Administration from Columbia Southern University, a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science concentrating in Town, City, and County Management degree from Appalachian State University, and an Associate’s degree in Fire Protection Technology from Cleveland Community College.
He is a graduate of the North Carolina Association of Fire Chief’s Executive Development Program in October 2015. He received the NCSFA Firefighter of the Year in 2015, NCAFC Volunteer Officer of the Year in 2019, and he was awarded his Chief Fire Officer Designation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence in 2019. He currently serves on the Executive Board of the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association.
Chief Cash currently serves on the Cleveland County United Way as a Board Member and on the Fund Distribution Panel, as well as serving as Co-Chair for the City of Shelby’s United Way Campaign. He is a volunteer with the Cherryville Little League program serving as a Board Member and Umpire Coordinator in the past. He is a member of First Baptist Church in Cherryville.
Chief Cash currently resides in Ranlo, NC with his lovely bride Erin. They enjoy traveling around the country and the Caribbean together.
Director of Risk Management
Emergency Services Insurance Program
As Director of Risk Management for Emergency Services Insurance Program with McNeil & Co, Dave works with emergency service organizations across the US . He is the Past Chief of The Cortlandville Fire Department in Upstate New York and A Fire Commissioner in the Virgil Fire District. Dave serves Cortland County as a Deputy Fire Coordinator and is a Director for the Association of Fire Districts in the State of NY. Dave served as the Foundation Secretary for the NVFC. His experience also includes being Treasurer of several non-profit organizations and a Board Member for the First National Bank of Dryden.
Fire Chief (ret.)
Odenton Volunteer Fire Company
David is an active member of the Odenton (MD) Volunteer Fire Company, having served for over 40 years as a volunteer firefighter/EMT and past Chief Officer. He is also NVFC's Maryland Director and the NVFC representative to the AFG, SAFER, and FP&S criteria development process. He is a Past President of the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association and of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association. He is recognized lecturer on many fire service topics and teaches on behalf of the National Fire Academy and the MD Fire and Rescue Institute around the nation. David is a Maryland Director of the National Volunteer Fire Council. David Lewis’s expertise not only includes fire ground operation, he also is a subject matter expert on strategic planning, fire service reputation management and behavioral health issues among other topics.
Snyder Fire District
Tom Merrill is a 37-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. His popular presentation "The Professional Volunteer Fire Department" is based on the series of articles he has written for Fire Engineering regarding developing and maintaining a professional reputation in the volunteer fire service. In addition Tom delivers keynote addresses and other presentations focusing on leadership, officer development, engine company operations and fire service history, heritage and pride. Tom also hosts a regular podcast sponsored by Fire Engineering titled “The Professional Volunteer Fire Department” and he is employed full time as a fire dispatcher for the Town of Amherst Fire Alarm Office.
West Barnstable (MA) Fire Department
Joe Maruca was appointed chief of the West Barnstable (MA) Fire Department in 2005. Prior to 2005 he served as a volunteer firefighter/EMT, lieutenant and captain for the West Barnstable Fire Department for 10 years, and had 18 years of prior service as a volunteer firefighter with the Sandwich Fire Department and Longmeadow Fire Department. Chief Maruca is an attorney. He has his BA in Business Administration from Boston University’s Questrom School of Management and a BS in Fire Department Administration from SUNY Empire State College. He is a member of the NVFC Board of Directors, serves as chair of the FCAM Call/Volunteer Chief Committee, and is chair of the NFPA 1917 Technical Committee on Ambulances.
Jefferson Township Fire Department
A three-decade pupil of the fire service, Chief Brad Shull is the fire chief of the Jefferson Township Fire Department in the metropolitan Columbus, Ohio area. A credentialed Ohio Fire Chief, he holds an associate degree in fire and emergency services from Hocking College and is a graduate of the Ohio Fire Executive Program.
Serving many volunteer, part-time and career fire departments, he continues to serve the community where he grew up with the Richland Township Fire Department in rural eastern Fairfield County, Ohio.
Chief Shull has been an instructor with the Ohio Fire Academy for over 20 years, delivering numerous courses, including the full fire officer series. He is also a founding member of the Phoenix Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending first responder suicide through education and supporting other safety services mental health support non-profits.
West Barnstable Fire Department
Captain Kim Sylvia has been with West Barnstable Fire Department for 13 years now. Her primary roles include Shift Commander Group 2, EMS Officer, and Community Education Coordinator. She finished her bachelors in Fire Administration from Liberty University in March 2022 and is currently a graduate student Boston University for Healthcare Emergency Management. Capt. Sylvia has a passion for firehouse culture, and the majority of her undergraduate was spent researching "Ethical Cultures" and leadership. She has attended a wide variety of leadership classes geared towards the fire service and management in general to add leadership skills, tips, and tricks to her toolbox. In the fire service we are tactical athletes mentally and physically, and it's our responsibility to be ready when the bell goes off.