Stempien, Holland First CFO’s in Goldsboro Fire Department History

Stempien, Holland First CFO’s in Goldsboro Fire Department History

Leave it better than you found it.

That’s the mindset that Goldsboro Fire Department Chief Ron Stempien and Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Holland bring to work with them every day. It’s also the mentality that motivated Stempien and Holland to pursue a designation that sets them apart from any other employees in the department’s 142-year history.

Stempien and Holland both recently received the designation of Chief Fire Officer from The Commission on Professional Credentialing® (CPC®).

Stempien and Holland are the first internal employees since the inception of the Goldsboro Fire Department in 1881, to earn the Chief Fire Officer designation.

Currently, there are only 1,882 Chief Fire Officers worldwide.

“The way I view it is I want to leave it better than I found it,” Stempien said. “So, if I can put the chief on a path, if (Holland) becomes the next chief, he doesn’t have to do the groundwork. It’s done for him. When it comes time for (Holland) to retire, we already have a plan and we’re moving.”

The designation program is a voluntary program designed to recognize individuals who demonstrate their excellence in seven measured components including experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement, and technical competence.

In addition, all applicants are required to identify a future professional development plan. The CFO designation program uses a comprehensive peer review model to evaluate candidates seeking the credential. The Commission on Professional Credentialing awards the designation only after an individual successfully meets all the organization’s stringent criteria.

The Chief Fire Officer designation is valid for three years. Maintaining the designation requires recipients to show continued growth in the areas of professional development, professional contributions, active association membership, and community involvement as well as adhere to a strict code of professional conduct.

“A lot of times when you think about a Fire Chief, you think about standing in a yard and telling people what to do at a fire,” Holland said. “Obviously, this is a lot different than that. This looks at your human resource management, your emergency management, fire investigation, budgeting, local government law, finance, codes and inspection. It goes through a wide range of things that a good Fire Chief needs to be proficient in. The model is built around continuous improvement.”

The paths that both Stempien and Holland took to the fire fighting industry were not without challenges. Stempien, who has been with the Goldsboro Fire Department for 28 years, began his career in the United States Air Force, and initially anticipated a career in law enforcement.

“The United States Air Force made me a fireman,” Stempien said. “It wasn’t my career path. I went into the Air Force wanting to be in law enforcement. The Air Force saw it differently, and when I got into (fire fighting) I really enjoyed it. So much so, that when I got out of the Air Force, I was here at Seymour Johnson, I applied to the fire department here in Goldsboro, and I was fortunate enough to be hired. It’s provided a good living for me and my family, and it’s really a good career.”

Holland grew up admiring his father who was a fireman. He vividly remembers running to the end of his street to watch fire trucks drive by each time his dad would leave on a fire call. However, those dreams of following in his father’s footsteps, were met with plenty of adversity along the way.

Hollands first two attempts to get hired by the Goldsboro Fire Department were unsuccessful. Undeterred, by those setbacks, Holland completed his college degree and began a career in law enforcement, before ultimately being hired by the Goldsboro Fire Department on his third try.

“As far back as I could remember I knew I wanted to be a fireman,” Holland said. “I spent my high school career day here at the Goldsboro Fire Department. I applied here and I didn’t get hired. I applied here again, and I didn’t get hired. I applied again, and fortunately I got hired then. I was mentored by some of the best that I think our department’s got to offer. Those individuals are the reason that I’m where I’m at now. It’s been a very rewarding career for me and my family”

For experienced Fire Chiefs like Stempien and Holland, the opportunity to pursue other positions within the fire fighting industry will always be available. The family-like atmosphere and their commitment to the Goldsboro community, have been what’s kept them both as integral parts of the Goldsboro Fire Department.

“People here are a name and not a number,” Holland said. “I know his (Chief Stempien) son’s name is Kenny, and he knows my son’s name is Gavin. I know his wife is Patty, and he knows my wife Valerie. He doesn’t know that because we’re both Chiefs. He knew that because when I was a fireman and he was a Captain, we crawled down the halls together at fires. When you come through a smaller organization, everybody knows everybody, and you have a relationship with them.”