Our People

Todd Aitken: Fire Chief

Career highlight: I feel honoured and privileged to have been given this remarkable opportunity to work alongside so many dedicated professionals and to be a member of one of the most respected professions in the world.

Specializations: Leadership, Incident Command, Officer Development, and Team Dynamics

Favourite thing about FESTI: Every day I am able to mesh three of my passions: firefighting, aviation and learning.

Portrait of Akilah Andall

Akilah Andall: Registrar

Career highlight: Witnessing the immense growth at Toronto Pearson airport over the last 15 years has been the most memorable for me. I have worked in various areas of the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, including Human Resources, Concessions, Engineering, Aviation Services and now FESTI.

Specializations: Key administrative liaison and ensuring integrity in the enrollment process.

Favourite thing about FESTI: The family environment. Everyone goes out their way to make me feel like a part of the family. I’ve never had a job I enjoy so much, from the smiling students and the funny instructors to the committed parents – I get a taste of all sides of what makes FESTI so unique and amazing.

Festi Dan Beaudoin Portrait

Dan Beaudoin: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: I started my career with the Canadian Armed Forces in 1981, where I provided 22 years of service. A personal career highlight happened when I graduated from the Fire Academy in Borden and became a professional firefighter.

Specializations: Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting, Special Problem Fires, Confined Spaces.

Favourite thing about FESTI: Meeting new people from different countries with different educations who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge – all while making new friends at the same time.

Phillip Bott: Division Chief

Career highlight: Throughout my career with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, I have worked as a co-op student, firefighter, captain and division chief. These roles have provided me with great knowledge and many memorable moments.

Specializations: Course and class management and management of the Ontario Fire Administration INC (OFAI) program.

Favourite thing about FESTI: Managing programs that impact the next generation of firefighters and sharing our knowledge worldwide.

Portrait of Alan Brody

Alan Brody: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: The number of firefighters that I have trained over my career is very rewarding. To succeed at FESTI, you need to arrive with questions and leave with answers.

Specializations: Heights, Structural Fires, Officer Development.

Favourite thing about FESTI: The student-instructor interactions.

Portrait of David Clarke

David Clarke: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: I assembled a team that provided real world hazmat and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) training to a multi-agency state emergency response team. A member thanked me for the training we provided because it kept them safe and mission focused.

Specializations: Hazardous Materials/WMD, Incident Command System, Exercise Design and Confined Space Entry.

Favourite thing about FESTI: The opportunity to deliver unique specialty programs across all emergency services.

Portrait of Randy Fleming

Randy Fleming: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: A professional firefighter with over 20 years of experience, I am a fire suppression specialist and to auto extrication expert. I taught auto extrication to the Peruvian Fire Service on a 10-day mission with Firefighters without Borders in 2005.

Specializations: Structural Fires, Incident Command, Pump Operations.

Favourite thing about FESTI: Our experienced professional instructors set us apart from other colleges. Here, our faculty’s career is training – it’s not a part time job like other colleges. Taking our students right through to the hiring process is our commitment, and our success is our students succeeding. The support doesn’t end once the certificates have been awarded; it carries on until our students become professional firefighters.

Festi Luciano Gentile

Luciano Gentile: Captain, Standards Officer

Career highlight: Eleven years of experience working with students. Assisted in the development and implementation of the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) accreditation at FESTI for all programs.

Specializations: Developing test banks and administering exams. Designing and developing fire fighter training plans and curriculums. Testing and scoring Canadian Adult Achievement Tests (CAAT).

Favourite thing about FESTI: FESTI provides excellent work/life balance which gives me time to be with my family.

Portrait of Carey Greenidge

Carey Greenidge: Manager of Finance and Student Services

Career highlight: Obtaining my professional accounting designation, which paved the way for a rewarding and progressive career providing financial management support to operations in the municipal sector, telecommunications and media industries.

Specializations: Ensure the integrity of information through best practices.

Favourite thing about FESTI: As a finance professional, putting out fires is a daily task. Nothing beats coming into work through live fires and smoke-filled buildings and seeing students’ dreams being fulfilled. I have the pleasure of seeing K9 units in action, witnessing family and friends’ pride and joy at graduation, seeing drones flying overhead and occasionally watching a film crew. The action never ends.

Portrait of Kelly Holden

Kelly Holden: Manager of Planning

Career highlight: I am honoured to lead this team of exceptional individuals. I am committed to the ongoing growth of FESTI, the success of our instructors, students, and partners. I cannot wait to see what the next chapter brings for FESTI in the future.

Specializations: Online learning, EQi, Crucial Accountability, leadership and team dynamics.

Favourite thing about FESTI: Every day is different at FESTI, I love the excitement.

David Hollett: Deputy Fire Chief, Operations

Career highlight: Spending the last two decades in a variety of emergency service portfolios and to be able to bring that experience that I have learned to the next generation of emergency responders at Toronto Pearson International Airport and to new students of the fire service.

Specializations: Emergency management, leadership and team dynamics.

Favourite thing about FESTI: It is an incredible opportunity to be involved as part of the leadership team of one of the best firefighting schools in Canada. To have a fire service at one of the world’s busiest airports working together with FESTI gives our students access to staff with a perspective unlike any other.

Festi Frank Lafond Portrait

Frank Lafond: Chief of Standards & Administration

Career highlight: In the past 45 plus years with the fire service, I have served in many capacities from firefighter to deputy fire chief, fire investigation, fire prevention, fire service instructor and standards officer. I am currently responsible for overseeing policies and procedures such as safety, dress & deportment, remote test site regulations and procedures, and the standards division. I also work closely with our internal and external stakeholders.

Specializations: Management/leadership and staff mentoring role.

Favourite thing about FESTI: We have a great team of professional staff and leaders. We are in a unique situation having FESTI as part of a full time Fire & Emergency Services department.

Festi Rob Lenders portrait

Rob Lenders: Division Chief

Career highlight: After 20 years serving in the military, I decided to take on the position as a fire service instructor in 2005. I develop and design career programs and manage staff in various capacities.

Specializations: Leadership and development of the Ontario Fire Administration Inc. (OFAI) Testing.

Favourite thing about FESTI: Being a part of a successful fire training college is rewarding, especially when I see our elite training team aid in the successful development of our future fire fighters.

Portrait of Marion Madden

Marion Madden: Office Administrator

Career highlight: Receiving the “Reach for the Stars” award for dedication to excellence. I started working with the Greater Toronto Airport Authority as an administrative assistant in 1999. I worked in the engineering department during the construction of the new Terminal 1 and the redevelopment of Terminal 3.

Specializations: Customer service.

Favourite thing about FESTI: It has got to be the food!

Portrait of Shawn Mainville

Shawn Mainville: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: I’m a former instructor with the Canadian Armed Forces, and I joined FESTI as a Fire Service instructor in January 2017.

Specializations: Pre-Service Firefighter Program, EMR and Hazardous Materials.

Favourite thing about FESTI: When the students you have taught achieve success and graduate, it is a very rewarding feeling to know you have had a part in helping their future. I also love using our on-site gym. Fitness is important to me and I enjoy being a part of a team that encourages that.

Portrait of Theresa Mariner Festi

Theresa Marinier: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: Assisting with medical care during Hurricane Katrina. Coordinating the public access defibrillator program at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Increasing the survival rate from sudden cardiac arrests. Formerly a medical professional with the Department of National Defense, I joined FESTI in 2004.

Specializations: Emergency Medical Response, Mental Health Training, First-Aid.

Favourite thing about FESTI: It’s what the students benefit from. Knowing that what we mentor and coach them with, will be used one day to potentially save a life; we are setting them up for success.

Festi portrait of Milan Popara

Milan Popara: Lieutenant, Fire Service Technician

Career highlight: I have been employed at FESTI for 10 years. I am a technician for various equipment and a qualified MSA technician. I ensure all equipment, including non-power items like axes and ladders, are properly maintained to keep students safe.

Specializations: Maintenance and testing of all equipment.

Favourite thing about FESTI: I love working at FESTI and the GTAA, it is a great company that takes care of its people; working here has given me and my family many opportunities.

Festi Portrait of Jean-Francois Rousseau

Jean-Francois Rousseau: Captain, Fire Training Officer

Career highlight: I have travelled the world serving my country as a firefighter. I have had tremendous exposure to working with Multi Coalition Fire Services and am passionate about serving my country and community.

Specializations: Structural Fire, Officer Development, Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting, Hazardous Materials.

Favourite thing about FESTI: The success rate of our students and seeing the children of senior officers coming into the classroom. Trusting us with their own children means so much.

Festi Leonard Sanders portrait

Leonard Sanders: Acting Division Chief Planning and Support

Career highlight: I began my Fire Service career in 1990 and still recall the highlight being the day I first received the offer for the position of Fire Fighter. The exhilaration I felt that day is the one thing all emergency responders share. I have been privileged to be part of such a great career.

Specializations: Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting, Medical Training, Leadership, Incident Safety Officer and Program Development

Favourite thing about FESTI: My favourite thing about FESTI is seeing the excitement and enthusiasm the next generation of fire fighters are bringing to the Fire Service. At FESTI it is not only our role to educate it is also our responsibility to inspire.

Hear From Our Students

Meagan, March 2020

“Recently graduated from the 4 week blended program at FESTI. The 4 weeks of practical training was absolutely amazing – especially week 3 of live fires. The facility itself doesn’t compare to anywhere else. The staff were extremely helpful and were constantly going above and beyond for us. I would highly recommend FESTI.”

Aaron, March 2020

“When I walked through the doors of FESTI I had no idea what I was in for. After 4 dynamic weeks of battling through cold winds and burning buildings I have walked away with a group of friends that feel like family and all of the skills and knowledge for the next big step. I need to thank all of the incredible instructors, my amazing team and my family. Most of all I want to thank Diana. She pushed me to go after something that I never thought I’d be able to do and supported me the entire time. Thank you.”

LeeAnn, August 2019

“Loved my experience at FESTI, I was in the blended class that finished mid July. I did a lot of reading up on the schools in the area, what they had to offer and success rate post grad and FESTI definitely passed with flying colours. The instructors, the atmosphere and especially the facility is incredible for what you need in preparing you for a career as a Firefighter. Highly recommended!”

Katrina, August 2019

“Recruit class of the department I got hired on was practically identical to the training we received at FESTI. The institute prepared me very well for my career.”

Rodrigo, August 2019

“I attended the FESTI Blended that started June 2019 and it was a great experience! The facility is very student friendly, with a bay where you can come in early to practice skills before class. The instructors are clearly passionate about firefighting and that makes for great teachers – they are able to push you to do your best but also understand that you are still learning. A great bonus is the student mentors they have on the grounds, past students who assist in helping current students learn and are an amazing asset to the faculty. FESTI left me with a confident feeling and has given me the foundation I was looking for in a career as a firefighter!”

Devon Jones, August 2017

“My favourite FESTI memories are all people related. I really enjoy the camaraderie that came with being a student here. There are lots of people here supporting and willing to help you advance, and who want you to succeed. It’s a very encouraging atmosphere.”

Matthew Citta, February 2014

“One of the big reasons I chose to go to FESTI was because of word of mouth. A lot of people were talking about how great the program was. The facilities are second to none and the instructors are top notch. I knew that there were programs in the U.S., but I wanted to go to school in Ontario because that’s eventually where I wanted to work. I established a great social network and made connections that would help me with my goal of becoming a firefighter.”

Jen Gould, February 2012

“I feel like I grew so much from being at FESTI and a big part of me feels like I was born and raised as a firefighter at FESTI. I really credit my FESTI education to the reason why I was successful in becoming a firefighter. The name FESTI is so well respected by so many fire departments that it really stood out on my resume. The paramilitary environment, the dress and décor, how the classroom runs — the general fire hall environment — ingrained everything in me from the start.”

Hear from a former FESTI student and mentor

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