TMCC Instructor Receives International Credential

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Sandy Munns Picture

Chief William "Sandy" Munns, TMCC Fire Training Coordinator and EMS instructor, is one of six Chief Fire Officers in Nevada.

Truckee Meadows Community College Fire Training Coordinator and Emergency Medical Services faculty member William “Sandy” Munns, has been awarded the title of Chief Fire Officer (CFO) by the Commission on Professional Credentialing (CPC).

Munns is one of only six CFOs in Nevada, and about 700 CFOs worldwide.

He also holds the credential of Certified Emergency Manager (CEM), the only person in Nevada with both credentials.

TMCC’s Fire and EMS Program Director Darryl Cleveland has achieved the CFO title, as well.

Chief Cleveland said that the CFO credential involves a comprehensive peer review by a panel of individuals from academia, federal and local government, and fire and EMS professions. The purpose of the title is to recognize fire officers who have demonstrated a consistent level of excellence – Cleveland said that for Munns, this is a well-deserved honor.

Chief Munns is proud of his work gathering, formatting and completing the entire packet of materials.

“You know you have the breadth of knowledge, education, experience, and capabilities—it’s a kind of ‘magnum opus’—my life’s work,” he said. “It’s a real accomplishment.”

Cleveland added that the process is rigorous. To be considered for the credential, candidates must submit a portfolio of accomplishments in areas such as professional development, education, certifications, professional contributions, professional memberships, and community involvement.

Chief Fire Officer Is an Honor Requiring a Comprehensive Array of Achievements

Chief Munns spent four and a half months compiling his package of experience and qualifications into a 110-page document to forward to the CPC for consideration to receive the internationally-recognized Chief Fire Officer (CFO) credential.

“You have to document your education, training and experience in 20 categories across 30 years, and then everything has to be documented by people who can verify achievements and experience in all of these categories, such as personnel management and emergency rescue operations,” Munns said.

“It’s a very comprehensive process, and then the package goes through peer review, where a team of professionals double-check everything in the 20 categories,” Munns added.

Following the peer review, candidates for the CFO are interviewed. Chief Munns said that his interviewer was very enthusiastic after reading the substantial application document.

“’You’ve got the whole package,’ said the fire chief in Michigan who called to interview me – he said ‘you’ve been very busy,’” Munns said.

Munns Has Served as a Fire Fighter, Instructor and Chief

Chief Munns is a 38 year veteran of fire service in Nevada, having started his career as a Pleasant Valley volunteer for two years, followed by 21 years with Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, and 13 years with Reno Fire Department, retiring as a Division Chief.

He holds a Master’s in Public Administration, with Disaster Management emphasis, and a B.S. in Fire Prevention Technology.

Chief Munns holds three associate degrees from TMCC:

  • Associate of Applied Science, Fire Science
  • Associate of Business, Mid-management
  • Associate of Applied Science, Auto Mechanics

“Having a working knowledge of auto mechanics has been very useful in knowing how a fire engine works, and has helped when I’m working with teams to design emergency vehicles such as ladder trucks and other fire vehicles,” Munns said.

He has been a member of the Fire and EMS faculty at TMCC for more than 30 years, and is currently the Coordinator for Wildland Fire Training Program and other non-credit fire training. Munns is also an Emergency Medical Technician Instructor.

Chief Munns has been active giving back to the community, as well. He has offered many volunteer hours with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northern Nevada, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) and other nonprofit organizations.

“When you’re in the fire service, your occupation is created by the community, and you are a real part of the community whether on- or off-duty … and I love that,” Munns said.

Jobs in Fire Service Will Increase in Nevada

He said that fire science is an extremely rewarding career because there are many facets and areas to learn about and gain expertise in. Areas include everything from wildland fire management to arson investigation to hazardous materials response to emergency medical service.

“In Reno, now about 70 percent or more of fire calls are emergency medical calls,” Munns said. “We do rescues – water rescues in the river have sometimes numbered as high as three per day.”

An aspect of fire service in Nevada is also managing waste dumping, because the desert is a place where some have dumped hazardous materials to avoid paying a fee at recycling centers, he said. Another unique need in the state is search and rescue in rural areas of the counties.

“There is always something to learn about in the fire service,” he said.

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)

Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the study of the transition zones between open land and human dwellings, and an especially expanding area of fire science. Munns predicts that it will be a growing field for employment.

“The things that are causing wildland fires to increase and make them more expensive to fight are population growth, prior fire suppression efforts, global warming and local droughts,” Munns said. “They create the need, or demand, for more fire service workers.”

Population growth means that more people will build houses among bushes and trees where in the past has been open space for periodic fires to thin fuel sources.

Munns said that fire suppression across the past 100 years or so, and especially since Smokey Bear, has had the unintended effect of allowing fuel to build up.

“Fires now burn hotter, more intensely and are difficult to fight – the fuel has been growing,” he said. “It will take more fire fighters.”

Global warming and local droughts have extended the fire season. The summer brush fire season now lasts almost the entire year, Munns said.

“We’re seeing the effects right here in the Great Basin,” he said. “And as population grows, the need for fire protection grows with it.”

For more information about the Fire Technology Program or Wildland Fire Training, call 775-789-5511. For Emergency Medical Services programs, call 775-789-5555.