So, come November 3 after you've had a chance to watch CNN, MSNBC or FOX for a post-election analysis, it would behoove you to start thinking about arranging meetings with your own members of Congress (both Senators and House members) to educate them about how they can address the needs of the fire service -- both locally and nationally. Visit the websites of the national fire service organization(s) that represent your interest on Capitol Hill for a listing of their legislative priorities.
Earlier this year, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) produced an educational video on the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (FIRE Act) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER). If you want to deliver a message to your elected officials about the efficacy of these two programs, visit our website to view the video. We can send you copies of the video in advance of your meetings so you can share it with your members to reinforce the importance of these programs.
If there was ever a time for the fire service to sound the alarm and become politically active, this is it. To get this point across during my speaking engagements, I often like to use the quote "the squeaky wheel gets the grease." But I came upon an Franklin Delano Roosevelt quote that I believe captures the sense of urgency for the fire service as we look ahead at the 112th Congress. When pressured by representatives of a special interest group for support of an issue, Roosevelt responded, "You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it." Let's go out in the 112th and make our elected leaders do it. If the fire service doesn't, no one else will.
BILL WEBB, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is the Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). Established in 1989, CFSI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute designed to enhance Congressional awareness about the concerns and needs of the fire and emergency services. In his capacity, Bill works closely with members of Congress and fire service leaders on developing federal legislation to improve the readiness of our nation's fire and emergency services. Previously, he served in the first Bush Administration as Director of Advance at the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor, traveling across the country and abroad organizing events for the Secretaries.