Acting U.S. Fire Administrator Looks Ahead

EMMITSBURG, Md. --

Acting USFA Administrator Glenn Gaines said officials have been working on updating and adding courses.

"We need to make sure the next generation of leadership is prepared to guide," he said.

Gaines said the fire service is unique. "It's the only entity that considers itself a failure if it fails to reach its constituents in six minutes. Name any other"

In the past few weeks, Gaines has held strategic planning sessions with top management to discuss what needs to be done to keep the USFA mission going.

"We're taking a hard look at what we do," he said adding he isn't sure what his agency's own budget cuts will mean.

As far as on-going projects, recent improvements to National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) will make it easier for anyone interested in obtaining data.

"It's important to have one data base," he said, adding that officials are working to incorporate EMS information as well.

Gaines also said the USFA has partnered with a number of organizations including the NFPA, IAFF, IAFC. CDC and NIOSH on a myriad of issues from preventing residential fires to promoting home sprinklers and studying the link between firefighting and cancer.

He added that he was proud to represent the nation's fire service at the ICC hearings in Baltimore last year when the home sprinkler issue was debated.

It was the first time the USFA was allowed to be an active participant.

Now, they've also participated in state discussions as well.

In addition to saving civilian lives and preventing injuries, it's also a firefighter safety issue -- a top priority for the nation's fire chief.

"I'll do anything to prevent pain and suffering," he said. "Anything."

Gaines said he's pleased that the USFA has been able to get a seat at the table with other stakeholders. In addition to fire service gatherings, they're also participating in FICEMS.

The re-authorization of the USFA included EMS as one of its missions, and Gaines said officials at the National Fire Academy are adding more courses devoted to that field.

"We've not only attended EMS conferences, but we've been invited to present as well."

Gaines, the former chief in Fairfax County, Va., finds himself in a role he filled once before -- acting administrator.

He was in the position for six months prior to the selection of Kelvin Cochran.

Just nine months later, Gaines was again tapped to step up into the position when Cochran resigned to become chief of the Atlanta Fire Department.

Gaines said with the dedicated USFA staff, the work of serving the nation's fire service never waned.

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