MFT Instructor Biographies

Chris Volkle, MFT President

Chris Volkle, MFT President

Chris Volkle is an experienced mariner with a B/S degree in Marine Transportation, having served in various capacities (including Master) aboard freighters, tankers, container ships, commercial fishing vessels and a cruise ship.  He has worked ashore for commercial shipping companies in senior management positions including safety,  environmental compliance, training and operations.  Chris was a member of the team that designed and implemented the original marine firefighting program at the Washington State Fire Academy, serving as Lead Instructor for several years.  He is a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Instructor, a U.S. Navy Approved Instructor, and a U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Approved STCW Instructor and Accepted Instructor-Trainer.  As a Marine Transportation Safety Specialist with the Washington State Office of Marine Safety, Chris was the State On-Scene Coordinator for marine/ship related incident response for Western Washington. He was appointed by the USCG to their Marine Firefighting Technical Advisory Team to provide technical advice during marine fire incidents. Chris received a commendation for an at-sea rescue of a ship and crew in the Bering Sea during an extensive fire, as well as USCG, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and industry awards for design and creation of safety, environmental management, and training programs for the maritime industry.

Email: chris.volkle@shipfire.com

Earl Sodeman, MFT General Manager

Earl Sodeman began his public safety career with the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in May 1983, and recently retired as an Operations Division Deputy Chief with 29 years of service. Earl pursued and attained various assignments during his fire-rescue career including tours in Operations Division, Special Operations, Fire Prevention, and Emergency Medical Services. He excelled in the “special operations” arena, focusing heavily on the disciplines of marine emergency response and confined space technical rescue. Beginning as a firefighter with SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT), Earl advanced to MERT Company Officer, MERT Station Captain, Marine Battalion Chief, and ultimately Operations Shift Commander managing 32 fire stations and 212 on duty firefighters. In addition he served as the Medical Services Administrator for Seattle Medic One at Harborview Medical Center for 4 years. With a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication, Earl has drawn upon his educational background to focus on training and teaching. He developed and delivered numerous training programs throughout his fire service career. These included presentations on fire protection and detection systems, officer development, tactics and strategies, command and control, and marine terrorism response. Earl served as the senior exercise planner for the Marine Terrorism Response (MTR) series conducted around the Puget Sound in 2005. The series consisted of a number of planning conferences, as well as functional and tabletop exercises, culminating in a full scale two day simulated terrorism response across the region at multiple venues. Participants included over 30 local, state and federal agencies and departments as well as various representatives from private industry.  Marine Fire Training is proud to include his nearly 3 decades of fire service and leadership experience in our management team.

Email: earl.sodeman@shipfire.com

Bill Hall, MFT Operations Manager

Bill Hall, MFT Operations Manager

Lt. Bill Hall joined the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in 1982, assigned to the base station of the newly formed Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT), where he was trained and certified as a Marine Technician (MT) and Confined Space Rescue Technician (CSRT).  In 1985 Bill was selected (along with Marine Fire Training members Chris Volkle and Rick Colombi) by the Washington State Fire Academy (WSFA) to develop a 5 day course in Marine Firefighting for municipal firefighters, which was the first of its kind in the United States.  During his time at WSFA, Lt. Hall trained both shore-side firefighters and marine personnel as a US Navy and US Coast Guard Approved Instructor. After rounding out his career with assignments in administration as a “Basic-Skills” instructor for new recruit firefighters and serving on various engine and ladder companies, Lt. Hall returned to the MERT to lead a team of Marine Technicians. He was a qualified Fire Boat Officer, and a veteran of numerous large ship fires. Lt. Hall retired in 2016 after 34 years of service to SFD.

Email: bill.hall@shipfire.com

Rick Colombi, MFT Project Manager

Rick Colombi, MFT Project Manager

Richard A. “Rick” Colombi, Jr. retired from the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in April, 2010 after 31 years of service. He was amongst the first Washington State certified Marine Technicians (MT), specializing in fighting fires aboard large vessels. Rick was a founding member of SFD’s ground breaking Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT) in 1982, and was a member of the panel that produced the original MERT technical certification program. He also held Washington State certifications including Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and Confined Space Rescue Technician (CSRT). As a senior Marine Technician, Rick played a direct role in battling many fires aboard vessels large and small. In recognition of his efforts, he was selected by his peers as Seattle Fire Fighter of the Year in 2005. A former US Coast Guard Damage Controlman and Coast Guard/Navy Approved Marine Fire Instructor at the Washington State Fire Academy (WSFA), Rick has authored and presented numerous training programs and articles on the control and suppression of ship fires by municipal fire departments and vessel crews.

Email: rick.colombi@shipfire.com

Greg Anderson, MFT Instructor

Greg Anderson is a 22 year veteran of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). He is a Firefighter/EMT currently assigned to the fire-boat unit of SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT), and serves as a fire-boat pilot. Greg is a Washington State certified Marine Technician (MT), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Adjunct Instructor and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) certified Fire Service Instructor. He has spent many years teaching Marine Firefighting, and Technical Rescue including the Confined Space, Structural Collapse, and High Angle/Rope disciplines. Greg’s state certifications also include Technical Rescue Technician (RT), and he has served as a member of the SFD’s Technical Rescue Team (TRT), and as a Dive Rescue Instructor. Prior to his fire service career, he was employed on various vessels operating mostly in Alaskan waters. Greg holds a U S Coast Guard “Master/ 200 Ton” license.

Email: greg.anderson@shipfire.com

David Busz, MFT Instructor

David Busz, MFT Instructor

David J. Busz has been in the fire service for over 25 years. He has been with the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) for over 24 years. David currently holds the rank of Lieutenant, assigned to Engine Company 5 located in the heart of the downtown Seattle waterfront. He is a member of SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT). In that capacity, David is a certified Marine Technician (MT), Confined Space Rescue Technician (CSRT), and MERT supervisor. During his career with SFD, he has also served in the Human Resources Division, and the Training Division as a “Basic-Skills” instructor for recruit firefighters. Concurrently, David is a Lieutenant and Training Officer for Montesano Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD). Teaching is a natural extension of his passion for his chosen profession, and he strives to focus the exchange of information with students on real life, relatable experiences, presented with humor and humility. David is known for providing technical information that is broken down into simple, logical and common sense concepts. He is committed to the idea that effective training is a two way street, and seeks to bring out the diverse knowledge of his students for the benefit of all.

Email: david.busz@shipfire.com

Brian Hart, MFT Instructor

Brian Hart, MFT Instructor

Brian Hart joined the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in 1995. He has been a Washington State certified Marine Technician (MT), and member of SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT) since 1999, working numerous major vessel fires. In addition to these duties, Brian is also a certified Confined Space Rescue Technician (CSRT) and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He is a veteran instructor for SFD, presenting department-wide shipboard fire, rescue training, and EMT re-certification programs. Brian served in the United States Army Reserves from 1985-2005. As a Pilot in Command of a CH-47 Helicopter and crew, he achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4. Brian completed many successful missions with the Army, including a 14 month tour in Iraq. He was the Aviation Life Support Equipment Officer and instructor for his unit, and a member of its safety council.

Email: brian.hart@shipfire.com

Don Henry, MFT Instructor

Don Henry, MFT Instructor

Don Henry Jr. has nearly 30 years in the fire service, with 27 years as a member of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). For the last 21 years he has been assigned to Ladder Company 7. This “special operations” unit is the core company of SFD’s Technical Rescue Team (TRT).  Don is a certified Confined Space, and Heavy Rescue Technician (CSRT/HRT). He is a veteran instructor, delivering both rescue and marine training to the SFD at large, as well as the certification programs for Rescue Technicians (RT) from SFD and other fire departments. Since 1998 Don has served as a marine firefighting instructor at the Washington State Fire Academy (WSFA). In this capacity he is an approved US Navy and US Coast Guard instructor.

Email: don.henry@shipfire.com

Rich Milligan, MFT Instructor

Rich Milligan, MFT Instructor

Richard M. (Rich) Milligan joined the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in 1991, following a tour in the US Navy. During his navy time, Rich served as a shipboard firefighter. In consideration of his training and experience he was assigned to SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT). As a senior Marine Technician (MT) and veteran instructor, Rich has played a direct role in the development and delivery of training programs for the SFD at large, as well as those specifically for MT certification. He has also worked on program development for Washington’s Marine Emergency Response Commission (MERC). Rich has worked as a shipboard fire instructor for the fishing industry, and has taught On Board Fire Firefighting and Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) classes on Holland America Line (HAL) vessels around the world. In addition to his service as a Marine Technician, Rich is a State of Washington Certified Instructor, Emergency Medical Technician, and Confined Space Rescue Technician.

Email: rich.milligan@shipfire.com

Justin Mitchell, MFT Instructor

Justin Mitchell, MFT Instructor

Justin Mitchell began his career with the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) in August 1999.  As a certified Marine Technician (MT) with SFD’s Marine Emergency Response Team (MERT) since March 2005, he is responsible for providing technical support to Incident Commanders at marine incidents involving fires aboard vessels, confined space rescues, hazardous material releases, flooding, and pollution incidents. Justin has worked as a member of all of the “special operations” units that constitute the MERT, including the SFD fireboats Leschi, Chief Seattle, and Fire 1, as well as the fast attack zodiacs. He is a veteran marine firefighting instructor within SFD, teaching numerous fire tactics and shipboard firefighting classes. In addition to his departmental duties, Justin has been active in teaching Basic Cardiac Life Support (BCLS) and use of the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to select staff, officers, and petty officers aboard the ships of the Holland America Line (HAL) fleet.

Email: justin.mitchell@shipfire.com

Bill Simpson, MFT Instructor

Bill Simpson, MFT Instructor

William “Smokey” Simpson is a veteran firefighter in both federal and municipal fire departments. He currently holds the rank of Captain in the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) and is assigned as the supervising officer in the Technical Rescue Team (TRT). Smokey is a former US Coast Guard (USCG) Damage Controlman and served as a Marine Fire Coordinator during his military service. He has also served as a US Navy (USN) fleet training evaluator. Smokey is certified as a Fire Service Instructor in the states of Washington and California, and is a USCG and USN Approved Instructor, as well as an International Maritime Organization (IMO) certified Shipboard Firefighting Instructor and Marine Fire Instructor for the Washington State Fire Academy. In addition, Smokey is a member of Washington Task Force 1 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Urban Search and Rescue Team (USAR) where he is a Rescue Manager and instructor.

Email: bill.simpson@shipfire.com

Dan Trippel, MFT Instructor

Dan Trippel, MFT Instructor

Firefighter/Engineer Dan Trippel joined the Bellevue Fire Department (BFD) in 1978. He has been a driver/engineer for the past 34 years.  In 2009, Dan was selected by his peers as BFD’s Employee of the Year. He is currently a member of the department’s water rescue team, and has served in the past as a member of BFD’s Safety Committee and as an Executive Board Member for the Bellevue Firefighters Union, Local 1604. Dan has been a Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)/Defibrillator instructor for the City of Bellevue, presenting training for both business and citizen’s groups for 30 years, and has been a Citizen Emergency Response Training (CERT) instructor for the past 6 years. He is an instructor for “Approach First Aid and CPR”, which has contracts to teach Coast Guard Approved first aid and CPR to Crowley Maritime Corp., and Foss Tug Inc. Dan received certification from the State of Washington as a “Shipboard Firefighting Instructor” for the Washington State Fire Academy (WSFA) in spring 2009.

Email: dan.trippel@shipfire.com