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Our Cadre

TODD SHEPHERD

Todd is co-owner of Forge Fire and Company. A firm that specializes in building custom fire training simulators as well as hands on fire training. Forge Fire and Company provides over 150 years of firefighting experience between 10 instructors! Todd is designer/fabricator of Forge Fire and Company Forcible Entry Simulators. Todd serves as lead instructor for many of FFI's training classes including forcible entry, flammable liquids & ARFF. Currently a career firefighter in suburban Central Ohio city for nearly two decades. Holding certifications as a State of Ohio Fire Instructor/NFPA 1403 Instructor as well as being a member of the (COST/USAR) Central Ohio Strike Team/ Urban Search & Rescue.

JD VASBINDER

JD (Jack) Vasbinder is a decorated 17 year veteran of the Fire service, JD currently serves a large municipal department and is assigned to the In Charge position on a heavy rescue. JD has particular expertise in RIT/FF Survival and Vehicle and Machinery Rescue as well as general fire ground operations and technical rescue operations. JD is a dedicated educator and instructs personnel ranging from recruits to advanced rescue technicians. He currently instructs for the OFA, CSU, BGSU, Howell Rescue, and Rescue Methods.
- Firefighter II, Fire Instructor II, Certified Rescue Specialist, HazMat Tech, EMT P
- DLA Director’s Coin for Life Safety, Joint Meritorious Unit Award for humanitarian assistance ops and disaster relief

GREG LASH

Captain Greg Lash has recently retired after serving a large municipal Fire department for almost 40 years. During his illustrious career, he spent the majority of his time as an officer assigned to Rescue 2 and Ladder 1, and assigned to the Training Academy as a rescue training specialist, a fire grounds instructor, and an officer development and tactics instructor . Captain Lash is a driving force within the training community as a recognized expert in high rise ops, aerial ops, and general truck operations. He is also a revered provider of leadership training from tactics to character development. Captain Lash is a mentor, instructor, and beloved example to the Fire Service and particularly Forge Fire and Company. The awards, citations, and accomplishment of Captain Lash's career cannot be accurately described in this bio but here is a sample.
- Division Safety Officer, Rescue Training Specialist, Aerial Operations subject matter expert.
- Authored Division Rescue Operations manual
- BS - Education
- CISD Team Member
- Instructor - BGSU, CSU, RM, CFD
- 3 Battalion Chief Commendations, 2 Distinguished Service Awards, 2 Fire Service Awards of Merit, Badge of Honor Award

CHAD THOMPSON

Chad has over 20 yrs of experience serving with the City of Westerville FD. He is a great asset to Forge Fire and Company having extensive discipline in Forcible Entry as well as strengths in Rescue and Fire Attack. Also, Chad is a long standing member of the COST/USAR Team and an NFPA 1403 instructor. Chad currently instructs for Forge Fire and Company, Columbus State College and BGSU.

JEFF STIVER

Jeff Stiver has over 22 yrs of experience serving the last 19 and counting with the City of Westerville FD. Jeff is an extremely well rounded firefighter holding strengths in all Rescue diciplines, Forcible Entry and Fire Attack. Jeff's no nonsense down and dirty approach to fire training makes him a great asset. He is a long standing member of the COST/USAR Team as well as teaching with FFI for last 5 yrs.

Mitch Huner

Mitch has served 19 years in the Fire Service. His career started in SE Michigan beginning of 2004. He has served in a multitude of department structures including contract positions in Iraq and Curacao as a Firefighter, Crash Rescue D/O, and Company Training Officer. He has been with the Chicago Fire Department for the past 10 years and is assigned to Truck 30 on Chicago’s south side. Mitch started Fire Maul Tools with the mission to produce job oriented and purpose driven tools for the fire service. Refusal to accept the industry norm of adopting both tools and accessories brought about the core mission of FMT to make the Fire Service better. Mitch has developed and patented a range of tool systems and accessories to improve firefighter performance and safety. He specializes in the implementation of modern tools and tactics to maximize effectiveness and outcome on the fire ground. His passion for teaching is driven by the knowledge passed on from both fellow instructors and students alike. Always forward and always improving sets the foundation for the class, company, and the Fire Service.

Nick Watling

Nick Watling has 20 years of experience 15 have been fulltime at West Licking Fire District. He currently holds the rank of Captain of a ladder company. Prior to his current assignment, Nick was assigned to a rescue company. Nick has an undeniable passion for search, technical rescue and physical fitness.
- FF2
- EMT-P
- Fire instructor 1
- Rescue tech
- Peer fitness trainer

Les George

Les has over 27 years in the fire service and is currently serving as an officer with Zanesville Fire Department. Les has rode in charge of an Engine/Rescue crew for over 20 years. Les has a passion for training in all disciplines of the fire service and has trained many firefighters from new recruits to the seasoned firefighter. He is also the Fire training Coordinator at Mid-East Career & Technology Centers.
-Firefighter II
-Fire/EMS Instructor
-Haz-Mat Tech
-EMT-P
-Fire Inspector
-Fire Investigator II
-NFPA 1403 Instructor
-Degree in Fire Science

Chris Sturtz

Chris Sturtz is a Captain at West Licking Fire District with 17 years in the fire service. He is dedicated to the mission of the fire service and believes we are here for THEM. He believes firefighter fitness is a must and competes at a high level in the Firefighter Challenge.

Justyn Fraize

Justyn has been a husband to his wife Angela for 21 years, has a son in college and a daughter in high school. Justyn is a 24 year veteran of the fire service and is currently a Captain assigned to Squad 18 in The Colony Tx. He is an adjunct instructor for the North Central Texas College fire academy and has taught at various fire conferences around the country. Justyn has an A.A.S. in Fire Science Technology, is certified as a Master Firefighter and Instructor, an active member of the H.O.T. FOOLS and Georgia Smoke Diver Association.(GSD #950).

Robert Welch

Robert Welch retired from the Manchester Fire Department in March of 2021 after a 34 year career. He is still an active Senior Staff Instructor at the NH Fire Academy. Bob is a well-rounded, experienced firefighter/instructor with strengths in forcible entry tactics.