Kevin D. Zumwalt


Kevin Zumwalt serves as the director of the University of Missouri Extension's Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI). The Institute’s mission is the delivery of fire and emergency service training that will enable emergency responders to better protect lives and property within their communities.

The institute's director is responsible for the administration and management of all Institute and field training programs for Missouri’s fire and emergency service personnel statewide. Following the University’s extension model, the program serves the training and educational needs of Missouri’s fire and emergency service responders along with students from across the United States through local outreach and distance learning. The director interacts with state and national organizations and agencies, and oversees the delivery of a diverse range of training programs. The director is responsible for budget development and meeting cost recovery requirements.

Zumwalt began his fire service career as a volunteer with the St. Clair Fire Protection District in 1975. In 1984 he became a part-time field instructor for the Fire and Rescue Training Institute; and in 1986 was asked to coordinate the Winter and Summer Fire Schools. He served for five years as a paid firefighter with the Mehlville Fire Protection District before taking a full time position with MU FRTI in 1994. Kevin served as Technical Rescue and Conference Programs Specialist from 1994 to 2008, Assistant Director from 2008 to 2013, and Associate Director from 2013 to 2017.

Zumwalt holds an Associate degree in Fire Science from East Central Community College.

Program Managers and Specialists

Mark Lee

Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Specialist

Mark Lee is originally from Philipsburg, Montana, and joined the Air Force after high school. During his twenty-one year fire protection career in the Air Force he worked in all positions from firefighter to fire chief. In 1996 he changed careers and started working with the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI). Where he has diligently coordinated industrial emergency response training. This includes training for hazardous materials, confined space rescue, industrial incident management system, fire brigade principles, and site specific needs. 

His current position at MU FRTI is Program Specialist for Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Training. Lee is a member of the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Working Group (ARFFWG) and is assisting the ARFFWG to review the Federal Aviation Administration Regulations that pertain to aircraft rescue operations and training. Lee is the primary coordinator for the FAA Central Region Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer (MAFT). The MAFT supports airport firefighter training in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. The MAFT has traveled and conducted training from Portland, Maine, to Las Vegas, Nevada, and from Pierre, South Dakota, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Lee is currently on the National Fire Protection Association committee for the NFPA 1081: Standard for Industrial Fire Brigade Member Professional Qualifications and the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting manual committee.

Bruce Bjorge

Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Specialist

Bruce Bjorge is the program specialist for the Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training program. He joined the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Trainning Institute in 2018. He is the primary coordinator for the FAA Central Region Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Trainer (MAFT). The MAFT is dedicated to supporting airport firefighter training in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. However, the MAFT and ARFF program also travels and conducts multiple trainings in various airports across the United States.

Bruce Bjorge is a fire service professional who has served in a number of different fire services agencies including military, volunteer, career, and combination departments. Most recently he was employeed with the Western Taney County Fire District in Branson, Missouri, before joining the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute. His fire service career began in 1984 and he has served as a fire service instructor since 1993. He has completed the National Fire Academy Training Program Management course in 2012 and currently holds ISFSI Training Officer Live-Fire Fixed Facility Credentials. Bruce most recently served with the Western Taney County Fire Protection District where he was the assistant chief of training for six years before serving as a volunteer captain and battalion chief. Bruce began his fire service career as a public safety explorer in Verona, Wisconsin, in 1984 and is a USAF fire protection veteran who served during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Bjorge has also served as a part-time program manager and adjunct faculty with MU FRTI since 2001 and been an adjunct faculty with the College of the Ozarks Fire Science Program.

Conne Burnham

Emergency Management Specialist

Conne Burnham is the Exercise Program Manager for the MU Exercise and Evaluation Program (MUEEP). This program is designed to assist governments, businesses, schools, and volunteer organizations in the development and delivery of disaster simulation exercises and evaluation tools to test disaster plans and response capabilities and is tailored to the individual needs of the organizations. Through a combination of training events and disaster simulations, organizations can determine strengths, deficiencies, and an improvement plan to enhance their organizational capabilities. 

Prior to joining the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute, Conne managed the exercise programs for the State Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Senior Services and comes to MU FRTI with an extensive background and expertise in exercise design and evaluation. She is trained in the Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP), which is the evaluation program required for all exercises funded through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Gail J. Hagans

Field Extension Specialist

Gail Hagans-Reynolds serves as the Field Extension Specialist for MU FRTI. She is responsible for the field programs and the MU FRTI administrative reporting within the Institute. Hagans-Reynolds served the University of Missouri in the Printing and Records Management Department for nearly four years before being recruited by MU FRTI in 1989. Hagans began at MU FRTI as a senior clerk and later served as the Institute's first point of contact for all field programs. She acts as the Institute's liaison to the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri (FFAM) and serves as the editor of their bi-monthly newsletter, which is produced in partnership with MU FRTI.

Erin McGruder

Curriculum Specialist

Erin McGruder serves as the MU FRTI Curriculum Specialist. She is responsible for creating, reviewing, and updating courses. In addition, McGruder provides program management for the Simulated Incident Management and eLearning programs. McGruder began coordinating the annual Missouri Emergency Services Instructor Conference in 2017.

In addition to her role with MU FRTI, McGruder has been a volunteer firefighter/EMT-B with Boone County Fire Protection District since 2003  and a Technical Information Specialist with (FEMA) Missouri Task Force Once since 2009. She maintains two Type I Disaster Live Find (SUSAR) certified canines and has been rostered as a handler with Kansas Task Force since 2012. Furthermore, she is certified as a Project Management Professional, an FAA Part 107 sUAV pilot, and holds numerous IFSAC and ProBoard certifications.

Tracy Gray

Conferences and Special Projects Assistant

The Special Projects Unit is charged with coordinating annual statewide conferences and projects that fall outside the normal realm of the Institute. These include the Winter and Summer Fire Schools; the State Instructor Conference; the Special Operations symposium; and Practical Water Rescue Conference. 

Tracy started helping with Summer and Winter Fire School operations in July 2002. 

Tracy started his fire service career as a volunteer with the Fulton Fire Department in 1990. In 1993 he started working full-time with Fulton. Tracy started several public education program when he was with Fulton Fire Department. Tracy received the "Excellence in Education Award" from Fulton Public Schools for his dedication in providing education programs within the school district. Tracy is now a firefighter with Columbia Fire Department.

COL (R) William P. Johnson

Military Programs Coordinator

The Military Programs Coordinator was established to more effectively coordinate the respective activities of University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI) with military units and agencies at the local, state and national level. The position reports to the Institute Director and provides advice and assistance to the Director in the coordinating objectives of Extension training and education mission with enhancing military agencies readiness and capabilities. COL Johnson serves as the primary liaison with the Military in Anti-Terrorism Force Protection program management. His extensive experience and background in emergency response and special operations is well suited to instruct numerous courses for the Institute from ICS courses to HAZMAT and Methamphetamine Operations to name a few.

COL (R) William Johnson served over 30 years in the military working with all branches of services both here in the United States and Internationally. He has commanded Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team and CBNRE Enhanced Response Force Program (CERF P) Team while assisting in the development of basic doctrine and training which is used today. He is nationally recognized as a subject matter expert on Department of Defense Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological, and High Yield Explosives/ Weapons of Mass Destruction (CBNRE/WMD) response teams. He is branch qualified militarily as Infantry, Military Police, Military Intelligence, Chemical and Ordinance. He has over 12 years of experience working in the civilian emergency response in fire fighting, hazardous materials, law enforcement, incident management and emergency medicine.

Office Support Team

Karen Palmer

Office Support Assistant

After spending five years in Jacksonville, Florida, Karen returned to Mid-Missouri and started with the Fire and Rescue Training Institute on July 7, 2003. Some of her daily duties and responsibilities are routing incoming telephone calls, class enrollment registrations, printing certificates, and processing transcript requests.

Tim Hartz

Instructional Support Associate

Tim Hartz joined the MU FRTI staff in 2014. He is currently the Instructional Support Associate and is responsible for shipping and ordering class materials and other class related logistics. He maintains and services the MU FRTI fleet of vehicles and trailers and completes other duties as assigned. Hartz has been a Firefighter with the Boone County Fire Protection District since 2006 and is currently assigned to station four in Harrisburg. Tim has been married to his wife Andrea since 2013 and together they have a beautiful daughter named Hadlie. When away from work, Tim enjoys spending time with his family and being outdoors.

Travis Johnson

Multimedia Specialist

Travis Johnson is the Multimedia Specialist for the University of Missouri Fire and Rescue Training Institute (MU FRTI). He is in charge of managing and designing a variety of publications such as brochures, fliers, ads, posters, illustrations, logos, and catalogs, as well as photographing and filming MU FRTI events and personnel.  Travis is also in charge of maintaining the MU FRTI website and its many social media accounts, and creating and distributing electronic newsletters. He also contributes when updating course curriculum packages for the institutes faculty and students.

Travis has been with the MU Fire and Rescue Training Institute since January of 2008 after working as a graphic designer for Maximum Media Inc. of Columbia, Missouri. There he worked on numerous commercial publications in the areas of real estate, sales, and promotions. He has a long list of freelance work as well and continues to enjoy all things related to design.