Harrisonburg firefighters complete prestigious training programs

Hilley and Bauserman
Lt. Matthew Bauserman and Fire Chief Robert Hilley. The two recently graduated from the Virginia Chief Officer Academy and the Virginia Fire Officer Academy respectively. Photo courtesy of the City of Harrisonburg.

Two members of the Harrisonburg Fire Department recently graduated from one of the most prestigious firefighter training programs in the state.

Lt. Matthew Bauserman completed the Virginia Chief Officer Academy and Fire Master Robert Hilley completed the Virginia Fire Officer Academy.

Established in 2007, both courses emphasize leadership and personnel management, physical training, hands-on scenarios, team-building exercises as well as guest speakers from all aspects of the fire service.

The VFOA’s goal is to develop leaders in the fire service through scenario-based training emphasizing responsibility, education, safety and ownership. The purpose of the VCOA is to prepare officers to assume the responsibilities associated with a higher rank, usually focused on strategic leadership and management.

Both programs were held simultaneously at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg.

Bauserman has been employed by the department for over 16 years and is currently assigned to the Maryland Avenue Fire Station on the “C” Quarter. He commands tower-wide assigned personnel. Bauserman is cleared to serve as acting battalion commander and is on the eligibility list for promotion to captain.

Bauserman completed the Management Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and is a former VFOA graduate.

Hilley is also assigned to the Maryland Avenue Fire Station, but serves on the “A” shift. He has worked for the city for over eight years, serving as both a firefighter and a sworn law enforcement officer.

Hilley is a Certified Fire Investigator and Fire Inspector and works in the Office of the Fire Marshal, in addition to his primary responsibilities as a firefighter. Hilley is also a nationally registered and certified paramedic in Virginia. He is the primary relief officer on Engine 28 and recently participated in the promotion process for the rank of lieutenant, finishing first. (

“We are extremely proud of Lt. Bauserman and MFF Hilley, who continue the department’s tradition of sending talented current and future officers to these programs. Their investment in this intense week of training will pay dividends for years to come,” said Fire Chief Matthew Tobia. “We also express our deepest gratitude to the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association for implementing and supporting these instruction courses.”

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