F.O.O.L.S. International Executive Board & Support Personnel

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President - Ben Fleagle

University Fire Department, Alaska

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Ben entered the fire service in October,1990 and
has been both paid call and a career firefighter for 27 years.  His time on the job began
in Southern California, but has been spent in Fairbanks, Alaska since 1996.  In 2001,
just after 9/11, Ben accepted a lateral into the University Fire Department, Fairbanks,
Alaska and continues to serve there as a company officer.


Ben came to love Alaska as he learned to perform and teach technical rescue in the
rugged Alaskan landscape alongside his teammates in Tim Kelehan’s “the Rescue
Company”, formerly of Fairbanks, Alaska. Since then, Ben has served as an instructor
for the Community Technical College, University of Alaska Fairbanks, teaching Building
Construction, Technical Rescue, Rapid Intervention Company Operations and
performed as the Senior Drill Instructor for the summer Firefighter 1 Academy from
2011- 2014.  Currently he has finished his Bachelor’s Degree, is focused on his family
and the F.O.O.L.s. International. He is married to his wife Paula of 24 years and
together they have four children.


Ben is a past President of the Farthest North F.O.O.L.S., recipients of the John Mickel
Award in 2007.  Ben was the recipient of the F.O.O.L. of the Year Award in 2013.  He
joined the International E-Board in 2015 as the International Secretary. His blog
“Leatherhead109.com” has been an avenue for him to pursue his favorite topics,
leadership in the fire service and the life of a Leatherhead.  He is enrolled in the
National Fire Academy EFO program and will be finishing in 2022. He remains a
student himself, pursuing excellence in service and leadership in the constantly evolving
and ever challenging American Fire Service.

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Vice President - Bob Faas

Montgomery County Fire Rescue, Maryland

Bob is a 30-year veteran of the fire service currently serving as a Captain with Montgomery County Fire Rescue where he is also a member of the FEMA USAR team, Maryland Task Force 1, as well as a Hazardous Materials Technician and Officer for the county HIRT.

 

Bob is currently the Vice President of the Central Maryland F.O.O.L.S.  He is also a certified MFRI & WVPST Instructor as well as an instructor for Montgomery County Fire Rescue. He is an instructor with On Scene Training Associates and is currently working on his Master’s Degree in Business Administration.

 

Bob and his wife Heather currently live in Charles Town, West Virginia with two of their four children Anna and Bobby.

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Secretary - Dave Dubowski

Spanish Lake Fire District, Missouri

Dave began his journey in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter in 1984 with the Riverview Fire District. After graduating the St. Louis County Fire Academy in 1985 Dave was hired as a paid career firefighter. Dave has been with the Spanish Lake Fire District in north St. Louis County since 1988 and has been an engine company captain since 2004. He holds an associate degree in Fire Protection Technology. Dave is also an accomplished fireground
photographer and the recipient of the I.A.F.F. 1st Place Award for an outstanding fire service photo.


Brother Dubowski is a charter member of The Muddy River F.OO.L.S. which was founded in 2006. Dave has served as President of Muddy River since 2009.


Dave has been married to his wife Peggy since 1995. He is the proud father of 4 sons, Michael, Matthew, Daniel, and Joseph.

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Treasurer - Dana Larkin
Camano Island Fire and Rescue, Washington

Dana is currently a Lieutenant for Camano Island Fire and Rescue and works in the training division. Dana started with Camano Fire in 2001 as a volunteer and was hired as Camano Fire’s first part-time firefighter in 2004. In 2006 he was hired full time. He was involved with the training division from early on and assisted as a company officer, assistant Drill Master, and Drill Master in about a dozen department run fire academies. Over the last four years he has been the lead instructor for training all of Camano’s new part-time and full-time firefighters.

Dana has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Western Washington University and a bachelor’s Degree in Fire Science Administration from Eastern Oregon University. He is also an ISFSI certified live fire instructor and has conducted live fire training for multiple departments, but search, along with Firefighter safety and survival, are his favorite training topics. In addition to training firefighters, he also been the lead instructor for the Stanwood High School Cadet program the past 3 years.

In 2019 Dana started a new chapter of F.O.O.L.S. International, The Cascade F.O.O.L.S., and still maintains his position as chapter president. He lives on Camano Island with Michele, his wife of 28 years, and has 3 sons – Maverick, Jax, and Chase.  

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Public Information & Technology Chair - Chris Bednarek
South Chicago Heights Fire Dept., Illinois

Chris is a veteran of the E-Board, having served two terms as Treasurer and is transitioning into the newly-formed position of Public Information & Technology (PIT) Chair.  The PIT Chair is a combination of the Education Chair and Social Media Chair positions.  Chris would like to thank Robbie Fisher and Rob Mitchell for all of their hard work and effort developing those positions into what we currently see today.

Chris is the Deputy Fire Chief of the South Chicago Heights Fire Dept., where he has been since 2021 following a 20-year career with the Chicago Heights Fire Dept.  Chris is also the Fire Certification Specialist Supervisor with the Illinois Office of the State Fire Marshal's Division of Personnel Standards & Education.  During his 25+ year fire service career, Chris has worked as a Paid-On-Call firefighter, contract firefighter/paramedic, company officer, and training officer.  Chris also spent several years as a rescue specialist and safety officer with Illinois Task Force 1, the state's Urban Search & Rescue team.

Chris has served as an instructor for various academies throughout the north-central region of Illinois, but most notably with the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI), where he has worked primarily in the rope, confined space, and vehicle & machinery rescue programs.  He was also instrumental in the development of the IFSI's online basic firefighting programs.

Chris currently lives in Flossmoor and is a proud member of the SouthSide F.O.O.L.S.  His wife Natalia and dog Jessie are kind enough to share their home with him.  His daughter Teagan has just completed her freshman year at the University of Illinois.

F.O.O.L.S. International Support Staff

North Central Representative - Mike Buhrow
Cedar Falls, Iowa

Mike retired after 38 years as an engine company Captain.  He is the co-founder of the Cedar Valley F.O.O.L.S. (2010) and served as the chapter's president until January of 2022.  Mike currently lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa with his wife of 42 years Rozanne.  He has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.  In his spare time, he enjoys golfing, fishing, and travel.

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Chaplin - Father James E. Swarthout

Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Illinois

The Rev. James E. Swarthout is the Director of Clergy and Alumni Relations at Rosecrance.  In addition to his longtime experience as an Episcopal priest for the Diocese of Chicago, he has professional credentials in social work and addiction counseling.  Fr. Jim has over 30 years of recovery work as a priest with addiction and mental health support.  His resume of community service is lengthy.