newsharrisonburg fire department veteran earns fire officer designation

Harrisonburg Fire Department veteran earns Fire Officer designation

erin stehle harrisonburg fire department

A Harrisonburg Fire Department veteran has earned the designation of Fire Officer. The designation was announced at a Center for Public Safety Excellence conference held this week in Orlando.

Erin Stehle, a 12-year veteran of the Harrisonburg Fire Department and HFD’s Community Risk Reduction lieutenant, earned the designation conferred by the Commission on Professional Credentialing, a division of the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

The Commission on Professional Credentialing awards the FO designation after an individual successfully meets all the organization’s criteria. The process includes an assessment of the applicant’s education, experience, professional development, technical competencies, contributions to the profession and community involvement. Using a peer review model, candidates are evaluated to ensure they possess the requisite knowledge, skills and abilities required for the fire and rescue emergency services profession.

Stehle is known widely in Harrisonburg for her work with people of all ages on community risk reduction.

“Lt. Stehle is the complete embodiment of professionalism, compassion, and goal achievement,” Fire Chief Matthew Tobia said. “Erin represents everything that our organization strives to exemplify on a daily basis. She is an amazing leader and is making a tremendous impact on ensuring the safety of our community through innovative prevention efforts.”

Stehle oversees the Life Safety Education and Child Passenger Vehicle Safety programs within HFD’s Community Risk Reduction division, responsible for fire prevention education for all school-aged children and others at-risk from fire.

In 2018, she established Camp L.I.T. (Leadership, Integrity, Trailblazer), an all-girls camp for young participants to explore careers in the fire service, and in 2019, created the department’s inaugural community fire academy designed to engage civilians in learning more about the department and its mission.

Stehle leads HFD’s Pizza Night program, an award-winning community risk reduction strategy to increase the presence of functioning smoke alarms in homes. She also partners with city school art teachers during Fire Prevention Month to recognize and celebrate art projects developed by students around the subject of fire prevention and is a volunteer counselor at the Mid-Atlantic Burn Camp for Kids.

Stehle holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from James Madison University and Master of Science degree from Liberty University. She is certified as a Juvenile Youth Firesetter intervention officer and a child passenger safety seat technician and has taught extensively on the national level.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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