Even More Important Now

We must be unified in our stance and focus all our efforts on reviving the AFG program.My past few articles have been focused extensively on the issues of public education and advocacy. Educating the public and our elected officials about the menace of...

From 2001 through August of 2008 Oklahoma fire departments and nonaffiliated emergency medical service organizations have received over $58 million through nearly 850 grants. These funds have provided critically needed equipment, training and personnel to provide the protection and safety that both our citizens and our first responders deserve.

Continuous support for the USFA and NFA is of utmost importance. The USFA is America's fire and emergency services leader. The 1974 Public Law 93-498 stated "the purpose of the Academy shall be to advance the professional development of fire service personnel and of other persons engaged in fire prevention and control activities". The NFA is mission focused in the training of current and future emergency first responders to foster a solid foundation for local fire and emergency services' prevention, preparedness and response to fires and all-hazards. This type of training assures a smooth integration with State or Federal organizations in times of disaster."

DiPoli has very similar views and for the past few years has focused extensively on educating the elected official in his State.

Under Bob's leadership back in 2002, the Fire Chiefs Association of Massachusetts (FCAM) started a tradition of going to Washington D.C. during the Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) events to meet with their members of Congress and US Senators.

Bob explains "originally I planned a luncheon event. It was attended by both of our US Senators and all of the 10 Congressmen. We had 68 chiefs attended as well. It was a great success. In the evening, we attended the CFSI Dinner as a group and still remain the largest contingent of chiefs of departments from any state attending the dinner.

In 2003, we had about 100 in attendance. We changed to a breakfast in 2006 as we found there were several conflicts with roll call votes etc. at lunch time. We present a national legislative agenda to the Massachusetts delegation, and then meet with the individual members and the chiefs to discuss the state and local issues. In addition, FACM has visited wounded members of the Military Walter Reed Hospital and laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington Cemetery as part of our visit."

With the current economic challenges that our country is battling, and with the budget cuts that the fire service is facing all across the land, today it is even more important than ever before for us all, to intensify our efforts to better educate our public about the menace of fire.

Look at it this way; just like salesmen need to work harder to make the sales during the tough economic times, we must work harder to sell fire prevention. When the economy is good and there is plenty of money to go around, there is not as much competition for the market. Jobs and sales come around effortlessly and everyone gets their share of the pie.

But, when the economy is bad (like for example now); it is a "dog-eat-dog world" out there. The resources are scarce and infrequent to come about. During these times, a good salesman must make cold-calls; pound the streets and work really hard for long hours just to keep the trickling flow of income. Scarcity of resources demands that. And, at these times, the past connections made, can come in very handy; and continuous lobbying is even more important.

Bob recognizes the importance of strong advocacy and effective lobbying; especially during these challenging economic times. He knows that it is very important for us to keep up our lobbying efforts and fight for the desperately needed resources such as the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) and the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG).

Back in the March 15, 2009 issue of the IAFC's On Scene, in an article titled "Effective Lobbying on a Tight Budget" Chief DiPoli stated:

"Early in my career as fire chief, I learned that nothing comes our way without some effort. I was privileged to be elected to lead my state chiefs' organization in the early 90s. At that time, the fire service in my home state as well as nationally was largely under-recognized and under-funded.

As leaders, we rolled up our sleeves and began to advocate for our profession at the State House. Utilizing grassroots lobbying, testimony at public hearings and visibility at fundraisers and events held for politicians, we soon began to tally our successes.