Earlier this month members of the Department of Public Policy (DPP) community facilitated workshops at the CT Fire Service Summit 2025. The workshops were coordinated by the Connecticut Fire Service Summit 2025 Committee, which includes City of Torrington Fire Chief and DPP alum Peter Towey.
The goal of the Summit was to provide pathways for sustainable Fire Services, through options and models, to local fire departments, groups of departments and regions. Through the efforts of DPP facilitators, workshop participants were able to express their viewpoints.
Facilitators underwent training at UConn Hartford in late November. Training discussed how to facilitate topics and how to address situations where conversations went off track. During training facilitators were encouraged to focus on the process over content. They were instructed to not insert their own opinions or biases into the conversation. DPP Students were selected to facilitate because they were not involved with the Summit and had no prior knowledge of participant dynamics. On December 3rd they facilitated workshops on a variety of topics.
Master of Public Policy (MPP) student Jackie Riberdy was partnered with Towey to facilitate the data workshop. Towey provided support as needed. This workshop focused on conversations around what data should be collected, how it should be collected and expectations on what the data should be used for. Riberdy said:
We had a fruitful conversation and there was rarely a moment of silence! I kept the conversation on track and moving forward, making sure we had time to cover the necessary topics and making sure everyone was involved. Peter said the only thing we should have done differently was add more time!
At the end of the Summit partners presented their findings, as facilitators did not have the full context. Facilitators were then asked to share their experiences. Riberdy noted that the experience allowed both sides to grow, and that she feels more comfortable with her facilitation skills.
Towey adds, ” As an UConn DPP Alumni, I could not have been prouder to see these young professionals in action. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them.” The DPP students were provided with “Challenge Coins” for completing the summit.