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Valerie Leitschuh selected into 2021 Fire Service Executive Development Institute

By Fort Myers City PIO, Correspondent | March 19, 2021 | FLORIDA

Story No. 031921103

FORT MYERS, FL - In March, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) announced that Assistant Chief Valerie Leitschuh of the Fort Myers Fire Department has been accepted into the Fire Service Executive Development Institute (FSEDI). Valerie Leitschuh competed with new fire chiefs and chief officers from across the country and Canada to become a member of the 2021 cohort program.

Leitschuh currently holds the rank of Assistant Chief with the City of Fort Myers Fire Department, serving the citizens of Lee County, Florida for nearly 30 years. In the 120 years of Fire Service, Fort Myers, like many fire departments, had few women in their ranks. None moved past the rank of firefighter until January 2000, when Leitschuh became the first female Engineer.

Leitschuh continued to advance as Captain, Battalion Chief, Division Chief, and now Assistant Chief. In 2018, Valerie was the voted by her peers as the City of Fort Myers Employee of the year. Her father and grandfather were both Fire Chiefs in her hometown of Litchfield, Illinois.

The Fire Service Executive Development Institute is a yearlong leadership development program created and implemented by the IAFC to provide new and aspiring chiefs with the tools they need to have successful and productive tenures. The members of the cohort will meet virtually until they are allowed in-person sessions. The group communicates between sessions using an online community.

“Our Fire Department is proud of this landmark accomplishment in the career of such a trailblazer,” said Chief Tracy McMillion. “We are eager to experience the enhanced development this program will have in the life of Assistant Chief Leitschuh, our Fire Department and the City of Fort Myers,” said Chief McMillion.

This is the ninth year that the Motorola Solutions Foundation has provided the IAFC with a grant to fund the program. The IAFC's Fire Service Executive Development Program is the premier career- and leadership-development program in the fire and rescue services thanks to the generous support of the Motorola Solutions Foundation. Many officers from the previous programs have been successful in achieving fire chief positions and are effectively leading fire departments throughout the country.

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.