June 2nd - 4th 2023, Wolfville, Nova Scotia

keynote address

“Same Objectives, Different Tactics: Having the Courage to be Responsible and Realistically Aware”

Jim Silvernail

Fire Chief

Kirkwood Fire Department

St. Louis County, MO 

Saturday Morning Following the Opening Ceramonies -  Atlantic Festival Theater - Wolfville


Allow circumstances to influence and dictate your actions.  The fire service has been around for over 250 years with tradition impeded only by progress.  This comment and theme appears ironic and facetious; however, proven true by the actions and beliefs of many fire service leaders and influential members.We must have the courage to influence change.  As leaders and instructors, we must be realistic and responsible in our approach.  We have a responsibility to the communities that we protect and the industry that we serve with great passion and dedication.  The circumstances that make up our environments and influence our service delivery are constantly changing.  We must be progressive and adapt to change, having the courage to identify our individual agency capabilities in the delivery of our service objectives.

Fire service objectives have remained a constant over time.  However, our tactical delivery and decision making processes have evolved.  Our environments, both in the emergent and daily routines, have evolved.  As fire service leaders and instructors we have a responsibility to be aware of our specific circumstances, industry advancements, standards, and industry best practices and implement them into their organizational culture.  Be courageous.  Be realistically aware.  Be a responsible member of the fire service community.


Jim Silvernail is the Fire Chief of the Kirkwood Fire Department of St. Louis County, MO with over 23 years of operational experience and is a graduate of the National Fire Academy EFO Program and is international accredited as a “Chief Fire Officer” (CPSE). He is the author of Suburban Fire Tactics and the coauthor of Suburban Fire Tactics from the Right Seat video and has written numerous articles for Fire Engineering magazine. He is a workshop instructor at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) (2011-2020) and presents at various regional deliveries. 

Chief Silvernail served as a principle member of NFPA technical committee 1710 and is a Western Regional Director of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors.Jim was a lead instructor at the St. Louis County Fire Academy, specializing in truck company operations. He also served as a member of MO-TF 1 (a FEMA Urban Search & Rescue team), serving as a Planning Team Manager. 

Chief Silvernail’s formal education includes: an AAS in Fire Protection Technology, a BA in Business

Administration, and an MS in Human Resource Management.