Of course, to be successful, we must be inclusive of not only all our traditional allies, but also find new non-traditional allies to win at the grass-roots levels. Private sector organizations such as the National Fire Sprinkler Association (NFSA), the American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA), and coalitions like the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition (HFSC) have played a major role in all our success in the past. Let me be very clear that there is absolutely no way that we can succeed without their full support and participation in the future.
In my mind, the "Unified Command" at the helm should be the fire service public sector. Then, just like the ICS approach, the planning, logistics, administration, and operations sections, and all other divisions, branches would need to be filled with all of our various ally organizations.
Fire service leadership organizations must step up to the plate and implement the ICS approach and establish the "Unified Command." We have the leadership strength. It is now time to establish command. Here are just some ideas and suggestions that we should consider in our IAP.
Educating the public officials - We must focus on educating the city/county administrators, mayors and all other state and local elected officials. All fire service organizations must focus on this very important task. We must participate at the local level to inform our elected officials and at the national level by educating the members of organizations such as:
- Council of State Governments
- United States Conference of Mayors
- National League of Cities
- International City/County Management Association
Based on their organizational mission, I believe that the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), under the leadership of Chief Randy Bruegeman, could be instrumental in leading such efforts. Leadership of the IAFC and IAFF and their strong support on this issue is of utmost importance. The Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) could play an instrumental role in educating our representatives on the Capitol Hill.
Common Voices - During the hearings, emotional testimonies were presented by along with the few other excellent testimonies from Firefighter Jo Brinkley from Green Bay, WI.; and Kaaren Mann, who lost her daughter, Lauren, in the Ocean Isle, NC, fire last year, spoke. You could hear a pin drop, and many of the couple of thousand present (including yours truly), were in tears.
There is not a more powerful voice than a grieved mother. No, it wasn't a mere emotional presentation. It was also logical because she was great in putting priorities in perspective. She stated: "the cost to put sprinklers into the home where my daughter died would have been less that what I had to pay for the flowers at her funeral."
The Common Voices Coalition that was started by the NFSA last year will definitely have a very significant impact in our future battles at the state and local levels. Just look at what the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have done, and how successful they have been in advocating their cause. Why can't we do that?
Environmental impacts - Green buildings and sustainability are now huge. We need the support of the green movement in our country. We need to do a study to show the positive environmental impact of suppressing fires at the earliest stages of progression by the residential fire sprinklers.
It would be good if we could get the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) to apply for a fire grant and work with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in conducting a series of tests, and measure the products of combustion released and pollutants emitted to the atmosphere.
We need to get all the non-traditional allies that we can, to support our cause. Since California has historically been the bastion of the environmental movement in our country, maybe our peers in there, particularly the California Fire Chiefs Association and the California Fire Prevention Officers, could lead our national efforts in this arena.
Fire service involvement in the code development - We need to find resources to have continued participation of the fire service in both the ICC and NFPA code development processes. We need to find a grant mechanism to allow for such participation. That would provide for even more participation than the past, because historically many of our peers were not able to participate due to the lack of funding.