Transformative Partnership Formed Between IAFC and Columbia Southern University


Kansas City, MO – Today the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and Columbia Southern University (CSU) proudly announced a groundbreaking collaboration that delivers on one of the key goals – to EDUCATE - in the IAFC Board’s new Strategic Initiative Plan (SIP) adopted earlier this year.

Through its partnership, CSU becomes the "Officer Development Program (ODP) Educational Partner of the IAFC." Both organizations are committed to empowering aspiring and seasoned fire service professionals through a new, comprehensive, virtual learning platform, making education more accessible to all IAFC members. IAFC members and their immediate families are also eligible for a 15% discount on academic courses at CSU.

At the core of this partnership is the newly developed ODP - Leadership Development Certification Series (LDCS). This cutting-edge program is designed to nurture visionary leaders who will adeptly navigate the challenges of modern fire service. Embracing a multidimensional approach, the series draws from the expertise of IAFC's industry leaders and CSU's renowned educational background, combining best practices from both academia and real-world experience. Courses are delivered online and onsite at IAFC Fire-Rescue International (FRI) and through IAFC Division and State regional delivery programs. Each IAFC ODP-LDCS program level can be completed 100% online or through a combination of online and onsite course completion after the successful completion of an online examination. Graduates of these new programs will, for the first time, be eligible to receive undergraduate college credit hours.

The ODP Leadership Development Symposium Series (LDCS) builds on the previous IAFC ODP through new competency-based minimum standards and stands as a testament to the unwavering commitment of the IAFC to advance training and education in the fire service profession. Through this new structured professional development process, ODP-LDCS students can continue to build their leadership skills, decision-making abilities, and strategic expertise, while also receiving continuing education units to validate their professional development efforts.

The IAFC-CSU collaboration promises to redefine the landscape of fire service education. The ODP Leadership Development Certification Series and Symposium Series sets new standards of excellence, empowering a new generation of fire service leaders, and securing a safer and more resilient future for communities worldwide. Together, we ignite the spark of progress and pave the way for a brighter tomorrow in the fire service profession.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)

The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials response, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest best practices and services available for first responders. In 2023, the IAFC proudly commemorates its 150th anniversary.

About Columbia Southern University

As an innovator in online education, CSU was established in 1993 to provide an alternative to the traditional university experience. CSU offers online associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, fire administration and occupational safety and health. Visit or call (877) 347-6050 to learn more.