South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs

Conference Speakers

Gordon Graham

GGordon Graham is a 33 year veteran of California Law Enforcement. His education as a Risk Manager and experience as a practicing Attorney, coupled with his extensive background in law enforcement, have allowed him to rapidly become recognized as a leading professional speaker in both private and public sector organizations with multiple areas of expertise.

Mr. Graham is a product of “The Greatest Generation.” Raised in San Francisco in the 1950s, he not only learned that love of God, love of Country, and love of family was critical, but he was also taught the immense value of continuous learning, hard work and the importance of always doing the right thing. These beliefs and values have become a constant and a catalyst in his busy life. 

After his first twelve years of formal education in the Catholic school system, Gordon began his undergraduate work at San Francisco State College during the tenure of S.I. Hayakawa who further reinforced those basic values and beliefs. He was graduated in 1973 with a B.A. in Business.

 In 1973 Gordon was selected as a candidate for a major west coast law enforcement agency. Thereafter, he proudly served as a motorcycle officer for most of his first ten years in the Los Angeles area.  In addition to his patrol work, he helped design the first DUI task force, assisted in the development of the DRE (drug recognition program), was an instructor in the initial “Mod I and II” Haz Mat program, and wrote his first of many technical papers: “PCP–An Officer’s Survival Guide.”

Simultaneously he was furthering his formal education during his off hours. Spending two years at Long Beach State College under the tutelage of Dr. Richard Kaywood led to his receiving a Lifetime Teaching Credential. 

Following this degree, he attended University of Southern California in their Institute of Safety and Systems Management.  He will quickly tell you that this was the best education he ever received from the best and the brightest people in the field.  His professors included Chaytor Mason, Ted Ferry, Bill Petak and Harry Hurt.  His relationship with Professor Hurt led to his being selected as a team member collecting data for The Hurt Report.  Published in 1980, this report on motorcycle fatalities was and is recognized as the single greatest treatise on motorcycle safety.

After completing his Masters, his off duty time was then spent at Western State University School of Law, where he was graduated in 1982 with his Juris Doctorate.  He passed the California Bar Exam the same year and opened his law offices in Hollywood, where he focused his efforts on family law, immigration and personal injury work. 

In his law enforcement life, Gordon was promoted to Sergeant in 1982 and supervised his former unit–the motorcycle cops of his agency assigned to Los Angeles.  He and his fellow Sergeants on "B” shift stressed the values and beliefs and built the most productive team of motorcycle officers in the history of the department.

 During this time period, he saw deficiencies in how officers were trained, and revolutionized law enforcement training in California with his SROVT program: Solid, Realistic, Ongoing, Verifiable, Training. This daily training bulletin concept resulted in his later being awarded the California Governor’s award for excellence in law enforcement training.

His personal life took a definite change for the better when he met his lovely bride, Reneé, and they were married in 1983. In 1992 Gordon was transferred to a staff position and assigned to headquarters where he continued his work in law enforcement training. He also sharpened his focus on how his education and training in systems and his legal background could work together to improve the quality of law enforcement operations by incorporating real risk management into police operations.

During this time window he commenced delivering his training programs to private sector organizations, including those involved in commercial real estate, hospital operations, manufacturing companies, aerospace operations, nuclear power plants, auto racing operations and many others.

 He also expanded his efforts to assist other public safety organizations and in 2002 worked with Chief Billy Goldfeder to develop which is now recognized as “the source” for information about fire fighter safety.  This effort led to his assisting the International Association of Fire Chiefs with a similar effort–and the development of their safety site.  In 2005 the IAFC awarded Gordon with the Presidential Award for Excellence for his lifelong work in improving firefighter safety and performance.

 In 2002, along with Bruce Praet, Gordon became a founder of Lexipol–a company designed to standardize policy, procedure and training in public safety operations. Today, most of the law enforcement agencies in California are using the Lexipol Knowledge Management System and nearly half of the States are now using this approach to law enforcement operations. This effort has greatly improved the safety of police personnel while also influencing a dramatic reduction in claims, settlements and verdicts adverse to law enforcement agencies.


Battalion Chief John Jones

Chief John Jones is a 20-year veteran of the South Carolina State Fire Service. His tenure includes 15 years at Columbia Richland Fire Department where he served at the rank of Captain before joining the West Columbia Fire Department in 2015, where he continues to serve as a Battalion Chief.

In 2017, Chief Jones was selected into the South Carolina State Firefighter’s Association Leadership Institute, with the purpose to ascertain where and how he could best serve the State Fire service and its members. In 2018, he formed a diversity consulting firm centered on improving diversity and inclusion in the state fire service and various institutions around the state.

Today, Chief Jones continues to lecture at Universities, Fire Departments, State and Local conferences on the subject of workplace diversity and inclusion. Chief Jones has studied Fire Administration at Columbia Southern University and Diversity and Inclusion at Purdue University while continuing to further his development and serve as an HR consultant for another firm. He says his passion for the fire service and other endeavors can be summed up in one sentence. “We have to be better”.


Chief Christopher Naum


Fireground Leadership and Operational Excellence on Today’s Fireground

An engaging and thought-provoking program that challenges conventional fire service paradigms and explores leading edge fire service discussion points from across the American Fire Services with new strategic, tactical and operational considerations due to building construction, extreme compartment fire behavior and escalating occupancy risks and varied resources proficiencies associated with today’s evolving and demanding fireground. The program will explore emerging concepts and methodologies related to fireground tactical theories and provide an integrated model approach for fire suppression and command operations and to achieve improved firefighter safety and operational excellence

A 47-year fire service veteran and a highly regarded national and international instructor, author, lecturer and fire officer, a distinguished authority on building construction sciences affecting fireground operations, command and tactics, he has traveled extensively throughout the USA and globally delivering training programs on building construction & architecture sciences and firefighting, fireground leadership, command management and operational safety. Additionally, he has over twenty years of direct experience in Behavioral Based Safety Program management, Human Performance (HU), Operating Experience within the High Risk-High Consequence Nuclear Generating industry. He is the Chief of Training for the Command Institute (NY|DC) is a Technical Consultant and Subject Matter Expert to NIOSH (USA) Firefighter Fatality Investigation & Prevention Program and a well-respected Fire Protection, Management and Operations Consultant.   




Battalion Chief David Laird

David Laird is a 34-year veteran of the Fire Service and currently serves as a Battalion Chief with the Columbia Fire Department.  David is a graduate of Clemson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Industrial Management.  He is an Adjunct Instructor with the South Carolina Fire Academy, a Lead Instructor for the Columbia Fire Department Promotional Academies, an Adjunct Instructor for CFD Recruit School, and has taught at other conferences throughout the southeast, to include a Disaster Response Exercise in Miami, Fla. and MAFFC.  He has previously served on the South Carolina Fire Academy Advisory Committee and the South Carolina State Firefighters Association Training and Education Committee.  David is married and has 2 sons


Battalion Chief Philip Yarchuk

Battalion Chief Philip Yarchuk grew up in Savannah, Ga, and has fond memories of the local fire department and their presentations to his class.  This experience eventually led to his chosen career in the fire service.  Starting as a volunteer in 1992, Philip quickly realized that serving in the fire service was what he wanted to do with his life.  He began as a career firefighter with the Columbia(SC) Fire department in 1997.  Throughout his career he has served on all apparatus, however, his passion lies with the Engine Company.  He has assisted in developing and presenting his department’s promotional academies, driver/operator programs, and served as an Adjunct Instructor for numerous recruit schools.  Philip is married to his wife, Katie, of 20 years and they have 2 children, Marie and Patrick.

2020 Conference Agenda


Wednesday, January 6th

Early Registration/Check In


                Thursday, January 7th                       

Registration/Check In

Battalion Academy (Day 1)

Vendor Hall Move-In

Opening Ceremonies

Keynote Presentation – Gordon Graham (Sponsored by Lexipol)

A.T. Hagood Fundraiser Golf Tournament – International Club of Myrtle Beach

Evening Event - Luau 


Friday, January 8th

Vendor Hall Opens

Battalion Academy (Day 2)

Training: John Jones, Christopher Naum

Lunch with Vendors

Evening Event - Dinner with Vendors & Carnival Night

Door Prize Giveaway


Saturday, January 9th 

Vendor Hall Open till Noon

Battalion Academy (Day 3)

SC State Association of Fire Chiefs Business Meeting & Updates

Banquet/ Awards / Transfer of Command Ceremony