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Only 1,350 chief fire officers exist worldwide, and now Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Battalion Chief Doug Bissette ranks among them.
Bissette was awarded the designation by the Center for Public Safety Excellence, a nonprofit with a mission to “lead the fire and emergency service to excellence through continuous quality improvement process of accreditation, credentialing and education,” according to the center’s website. Bissette grew up in Wilson County’s Rock Ridge community and is a graduate of Hunt High School and Wilson Community College. His first high school apprenticeship was with Wilson Fire/Rescue Services.
“Achieving this designation signifies Battalion Chief Bissette’s commitment to his career in the fire and emergency services,” reads a letter from Debbie Sobotka, chief operating officer for the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
Experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement and more are evaluated as part of organization’s stringent criteria for chief fire officer designation — which also includes proving technical competence in a wide array of subjects.
“You have to show proficiency in 20 technical competencies, and they range from employing resources, emergency management, communications systems, training, public education and community relations, fire investigation, reporting process, how they hire and fire, administration — there’s even some financial stuff in there,” Bissette said.
Bissette is currently attending a two-week training at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Maryland, aiming for his next designation of executive fire officer through the National Fire Academy’s four-year program.
While it’s rewarding to be recognized by his peers with the CFO designation, Bissette said the real goal is continuing education and being able to share what he’s learned with his fellow firefighters.
“We continually want to grow our department, and we want our firefighters to grow,” Bissette said. “To continue to grow and have pride not only in ourselves, but in our department.”
Bissette also serves as captain on the Pinetown Volunteer Fire Department squad in Beaufort County.