FDSS. LLC was formed in 2008 by retired fire chief Alex McCurdy. Alex served in the fire service for 35 years as Firefighter, Training Officer, Instructor, Lieutenant and Chief of Department in two municipalities. The FDSS mission has been to deliver unique and highly effective training geared toward what is a widely recognized decline in pump operator tactile skill and experience. This mission is being fulfilled by combining highly experienced staff with cutting edge, world class technology. Since 2008 the FDSS programs have consistently received high praise at all levels and often declared by students to be the best training they have every had.
Highly respected, savvy and practical minded fire service veterans bring up to over 150 years of collective Instructional experience to FDSS. We work as a team to convey fast pace, enjoyable training that delivers noticeably higher levels of competency on the fireground.
Alex McCurdy, Founder & Owner
Alex became involved in the fire service in 1974 where he has served as Firefighter, Lieutenant, Training Officer and Chief of Department in two towns. Alex has extensive experience as an instructor that started in the late 1970’s with work as a field instructor for the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy. He is a credentialed fire instructor at level 1 & 2. He has specialized training related to Large Diameter hose, Pumps & Hydraulics and Rural Water Supply. He and retired Fire Chief Skip Sullivan coauthored one of the first formal LDH programs in Massachusetts. Alex, remains an active member of the Fire Chiefs’ Associations of MA, NH, Essex County and New England.
After his retirement as the Chief of the Littleton Fire Department, Alex formed FDSS, LLC. He recognized a need to address the declining experience and skill of pump operators. He also recognized that the outcome of many fire incidents have been negatively affected by pump operators unprepared for what they were facing. It was also clear that the number of experienced pump operators in the fires service was declining. In 2007 Alex connected with Jeff Clifton of FD International. Jeff had developed truly unique, cutting edge, technology that directly addressed the shortfall in pump operator training, skill and experience. In 2008 FDSS rolled out its training and pump service testing programs with the FD International technology front and center.
Today that technology and the benefit it represents to the fire service pump operator remains unsurpassed. In 2014 Alex, in conjunction, with PSEN’s Bob Colameta began rolling out supplemental programs also designed to more effectively prepare and integrate pump operators. Alex promotes a teaching style that is designed to focus on the learning and retention strengths of each student in a simple, fast paced and enjoyable training environment that delivers tangible results. Alex believes that all too often training falls short because its complexity leads to partial understanding and poor retention. This results in bad habits that are reinforced from that partial understanding. “Changing bad habits is far more difficult than starting with a few good ones. One serves as a foundation the other an undermine”
Mary started for the company in 2016 as our Assistant Administrator. She brings the speed and efficiency FDSS has needed to keep up with the growth of the company. Mary has worked in the office for several small businesses including her own and her husband’s. She has successfully started a 501c3 certified non-profit youth sports organization and has honed her computer skills from years of volunteer work. Mary assists Owner Alex McCurdy in compiling data and processing over 250 pump service test report, training rosters, certificates and all the other ‘paperwork” that goes along with our field work.
Don, a retired Chief, is considered a “senior” instructor, starting with FDSS in 2012. He brings a vast range of experience to FDSS. Don started his fire service career in the rural town of Princeton in 1974 as a Call Firefighter and has worked his way forward to serving as Chief of the Department in Townsend, Harvard and Maynard. Don has been an instructor for the department of Fire Services since 1981, certified at Level I & II.
Don is known and respected for his down to earth approach to things and his willingness to step up to make things better. These attributes, strong work ethics and vast experience around apparatus pumps and pumping in almost every setting makes him a great resource for students. Don collaborates well with other FDSS staff to consistently refine and improve program delivery. Don effectively translates old school experience into the new school mainstream of today’s fire service.
Steele has served on the Littleton fire department as Firefighter, Captain and Acting Chief; he now serves as Chief of the Groton Fire department. Although his current job demands much of his time, he often can be found working with call and volunteer department in our Weekender program. Steele represents the next generation of FDSS as we look at how the FDSS programs and fire training in general will evolve in the years ahead.
John joined FDSS in 2012 after an active career in the Lawrence Fire Department, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant. Before his retirement he was also active as an Instructor for the Department of Fire Services, certified to Instructor II. Much of that time was training newer firefighters seeking Firefighter 1/2 certification. John also conducts the majority of FDSS pump service testing, having done over 600 pump tests since 2012.
Andrew started working for FDSS in 2016 but has over a decade of experience in the fire service as both a call and career firefighter. Serving for many years as a chauffeur/engineer before his promotion to Lieutenant, Andrew is also the training officer for his department.
A certified Fire Instructor I and II, Fire Officer I and II and Paramedic, Andrew enjoys teaching firefighters from all backgrounds and levels of experience, often spending his days off teaching pumping and other skills to small focused groups for more hands-on time. While there is a lot to be learned in the classroom, Andrew is a more hands-on firefighter and instructor believing the best way to understand how something works is by doing and practicing. With FDSS Andrew is able to put this philosophy to use with his students by giving them the tools to understand what is happening and how to overcome the challenges we face on the fire ground.
John was literally brought up in the fire service as a 3rd generation firefighter. He began his career in 1980 serving in Boxborough, Harvard, Shirley and since 1995, Lexington where he has held the rank of Lieutenant since 2013. In 2000 he became a certified fire instructor and began his long time work with the Department of Fire Services, eventually becoming the A Program Assistant Coordinator.
John is highly respected by his colleagues who will say he is “all in”. He believes that training never ends, no matter what your position in the fire service. He considers himself a senior firefighter and vows to do his part in seeing new firefighters get to become senior firefighters as well. His friendly yet professionally calm and reassuring demeanor make him a perfect fit for FDSS. John has been with FDSS since 2010.
Another 3rd generation firefighter Al retired as Chief of Department for Georgetown in 2015. Al brings 40+ years of experience as a firefighter, line officer and Chief starting as a volunteer firefighter outside of Philadelphia (PA), then migrating north and serving on a fire department outside of NYC where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant and Captain serving on a Rescue Company and Engine Company. One last move north brought Al to New England where he eventually served as the Town of Georgetown’s first career Fire Chief retiring in 2015.
After retirement Al continued to remain active in fire service as a trainer for the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy teaching in a variety of programs and is currently the Assistant Coordinator for the Advanced Fire Skills Division. He also teaches as an adjunct Professor in the Fire Science programs at North Shore Community College in Danvers and at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown. Al holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Management and worked on his Masters in Labor Relations. As well he holds NFPA Pro-Board certifications as Firefighter I/II, Fire Service Instructor, Fire Officer and is a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer program given by the Donohue Institute of UMass, just to name a few. His passion for teaching and the fire service are deeply entwined in his life and family having several of his children serving in fire and EMS positions both past and currently.
Coming to FDSS has given Al the opportunity to take his experience in the field and translate it to the needs of the 21st Century fire service, and as Al has repeated many times “the need for educations and re-education never stops.”
Jim began working with FDSS in 2015 and has become one of our most active instructors. He is considered a “senior” instructor in that he brings a vast range of firefighting and instructional experience to FDSS. He is certified at Instructor level II. Starting his fire service career as a call firefighter in 1983, He was appointed fulltime in 1988 where he rose through the ranks and became Chief of the City Of Marlborough Fire Department. Jim retired as Chief in March of 2015. In addition to his work with FDSS, Jim remains an instructor for the Department of Fire Services.
Joseph Guarnera, M.Ed., CFO, EMT-IC, One of the things we are proud of at FDSS is unmatched pump training technology. Another is the high level of instructor expertise and experience. Joe brings 37 fire service years with a high level of instructional experience and remarkable education. He is a true Fire Service professional who will help us not only maintain but improve upon the high quality that has come to be expected from FDSS. Joe is a Massachusetts Credentialed Fire Chief, Fire Service Leader, CFO Graduate, strategist, tactician, and local and national instructor with extensive street experience. Joe is currently serving as the Fire Chief in Athol (Massachusetts), former Assistant Fire Chief in Berlin (Massachusetts), and firefighter in Revere (Massachusetts). Throughout his years, Joe has gained extensive experience in motor pump operations as well as truck operations.
Joe is an instructor at the National Fire Academy in Emittsburg Maryland, a Chair of the National Fire Administration Professional Development Committee, former Program Coordinator at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, a Manager with the Massachusetts Task Force One FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team. Joe holds multiple degrees including a Master’s degree in Education and is a member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 1041 committee on Fire Service Instructor Professional Qualifications. He is an adjunct professor at multiple colleges and universities including Southern Illinois University and Mt Wachusett Community College. All the education and experience has not changed his down to earth, respectful, easy going and friendly instructional demeanor. Skills FDSS strives for every day.
Don started in the fire service in 1974 as a call firefighter with the Stoughton Fire department and moved to the career department in 1987. He moved up the ranks and retired as a captain in 2014.
Don is also an instructor with the Department of Fire Services, serving in that capacity since 1989. He has taught in many divisions at the academy such as recruit, fire officer program, gas program and impact. He is also a former coordinator of the Impact program. Don is a certified Firefighter, Fire Officer and Fire instructor I/II.
Michael has been involved in emergency services for 35 years. He started in the fire service as a call firefighter in Lynnfield. He has worked as a career firefighter in Amesbury, then in Lynnfield as a Captain. In Lynnfield, Michael served as the training officer for the department. He is currently the Fire Chief in Nahant. He is a credentialed Fire Instructor I/II and also currently teaches at the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy working with the recruit, call/volunteer recruit and various specialty programs.
Michael is a Massachusetts Credentialed Fire Chief, a graduate of the Chief Fire Officer Management Program and is currently completing the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. He holds a Master’s Degree from Eastern Kentucky University in Safety, Security and Emergency Management (Dual concentrations – Fire and Emergency Services; Emergency Management).
Paul came to FDSS as a well-established fire service veteran and accomplished instructor. Paul was a member of the Southbridge Fire Department for 33 years. Paul is also an experienced instructor of over 14 years. He is currently a certified Fire Service Instructor 2. Paul contributes to our knowledge with his straight forward style. He is a responsively mined team player and collaborator both with his peers and students. His dedication to the advancement of fire service remains unwavering.
Tom is an original at FDSS, he was there when we first rolled out our training and pump testing technology. He is known for his wit and humor, yet strong passion for good training. He was always the first to think out of the box and was instrumental in our success of today. Tom is currently serving as Deputy Chief of the Littleton Fire Department. From time to time he will take on special projects with FDSS, often bartering to get training for his LDF staff. Tom also spent some time oversees conducting firefighter training programs for FD International.
Greg also is an original with FDSS. He was there when we first started. Greg is known for his hands on approach and sometimes overwhelming enthusiasm. Greg’s father served with Owner Alex McCurdy on the Harvard fire department, Greg has picked up where his father left off and is now a Lieutenant on that department as well as a firefighter on the Devens Fire Department.
Frank spent quite a bit of time with FDSS in the early days. His training approach was unique yet effective. Frank believed that students basically know what to do and with a little help and patience, they will get there. He was also one to be found in the middle of a prank or two. He currently is serving on the Somerville Fire department as a District Chief.
Jeff Clifton, FD International
Jeff is where it all started. He is the designer and builder of the simulator technology. Moreover Jeff is a highly experienced and imaginative fire service instructor and CEO of FD International. His coaching, early on in the life of FDSS was invaluable. His ongoing advice still is.
Bob sought to join and came on the rolls at FDSS in 2010 after participating in the pump operations program with his department. Firefighter (retired) after 30 years of service. He is the creator and Owner of the Public Safety Education Network (www.psenonline.com). Robert has a unique background. As a young firefighter he became a licensed commercial pilot flight instructor logging over a thousand hours as flight instructor. Eventually he transitioned to a fire instructor for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Fire Services.
He has worked as an instructor, assistant coordinator and coordinator for Massachusetts Firefighting Academy as well as a curriculum developer. In addition, Bob worked as curriculum developer and managed hundreds of instructors across the country for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 16 Life Safety Initiatives, Courage to be Safe Program. He was awarded the George D. Post Instructor of the Year from the International Association of Fire Service Instructors and Fire Engineering in 2010. He speaks across the country regarding the value of “thinking safety.” As an FDSS instructor, he helped create the FDSS instructors manual. He also teaches pump operators to identify, evaluate, control pumping operations utilizing the FDSS pump simulator. He believes that without vision we cannot change, without change we cannot grow and without growth we cannot succeed.
The cornerstone of our training and pump testing is our training simulator. This advanced technology, built by FD International, allows us to venture where others cannot go, all with a higher degree of safety, proficiency and efficiency.