About Us

Dave Casey – EFO, MPA, Managing Partner, Co-Founder dave@ascendleadershipllc.com

Dave Casey is the co-author of Fire Engineering’s video series “The Right Seat – Officer Development Beyond the Textbook” (six volumes) and the lead author of NFPA/ISFSI/IAFC textbook Live Fire Training: Principles and Practice. He served as Louisiana’s State Training Director for Municipal firefighters and previously was the Superintendent of the  Florida State Fire College – overseeing the state curriculum leading to certification at the certified training centers and community colleges in the state and directing the Florida Firefighter OSHA program. He oversaw the certification testing and processes in Florida and then Louisiana in accordance with IFSAC and ProBoard accreditation. He was the Fire Chief of Clay County (FL) for 11 years.  He has a Master’s degree in Public Administration and is a NFA EFO graduate and was a CFO designee. A Florida Instructor III, he is a frequent presenter at the FDIC and state and provincial Fire Chief’s, and Training Conferences. He has been published in Fire Engineering and other regional magazines and is the co-author of “Live Fire Training Principles Practice to NFPA 1403”, published by Jones & Bartlett’s Public Safety Group.

Chris Niebling – Co-Founder

Christopher Niebling is an active officer with the Mantoloking Volunteer Fire Department and serves as the Operations Chief for the Office of Emergency Management for the Borough of Mantoloking, New Jersey. Prior to retiring as a career fire officer with 36 years of service in Florida he served as a company officer, training officer, paramedic, instructor, and as an IAFF union local President. He is a frequent presenter at the FDIC and state conferences, and the past Chairperson of the Florida Training Improvement Conference, and Vice President of the Florida Chapter of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors. Chris represented the Florida State Fire Marshal’s Office as a Standards Examiner, responsible for conducting state written and practical certification examinations. He is the co-author of the Fire Engineering video series “The Right Seat – Officer Development Beyond the Textbook” and has been published in fire service publications including Fire Engineering magazine. He recently retired as  a managing partner of Ascend Leadership, LLC.

Mark Watters – Associate mark@ascendleadershipllc.com

Mark Watters retired as Captain with 34 years at Sunrise Fire Rescue (Florida) and is an active Volunteer for 40 years and serving as the Training Coordinator for the Plantation Fire Department. Concurrently, he was an lead instructor and standards curriculum manager at Broward Fire Academy, implementing a  to technology blended curriculum. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership, Business Management with a concentration on Public Safety Organizations Education from St Thomas University, Miami, Fl. He is a Florida Instructor III and a frequent presenter at FDIC and Fire Rescue East and has been published in Fire Engineering and Fire Apparatus Journal.

Jeff Strickland – Associate

Jeff Strickland retired as the Division Chief of Training and Safety for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue after 32 years of service. Jeff has had leadership roles with the FEMA USAR Task FL-TF1, and had served as the commander of the Technical Rescue Bureau. He worked extensively as the Surfside collapse in his new role with the Florida State Fire Marshal as the liaison and representative of the State Fire Marshal, who coordinates Florida’s USAR system. He has presented at FDIC and other training conferences around the country. He has a Bachelor’s degree from St. Thomas University.

Frank Ennist – Associate

Frank Ennist retired in 2021 after 42 years in Florida’s fire service, having served as a city fire chief, a county fire chief, and the training program manager for the Florida State Fire College. He has  an MBA/PA from the University of Phoenix. Frank is currently working on his Certified Public Manager certification through Florida State University. He is currently the training and education coordinator for the Fire Rescue East Conference, which he has worked with for over 30 years.


Our History

For thirteen years Dave and Chris were the vice president and president (respectively) of Fire Service Technologies, Inc. (FST). FST was a provider of promotional exams and specialized fire service training programs in the US and internationally. FST’s methods of avoiding testing conflicts from differences in written procedures and actual practice made them popular with candidates and fire department administrations. Dave and Chris closed FST when Dave was appointed as Florida’s Chief of Fire Standards & Training, managing the state’s over 9000 state certification tests annually. In that role, Dave oversaw major testing process overhauls and improvements.