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Instead of devoting this column to a single issue, I thought it might be helpful to discuss four of the many current political opportunities that the fire service is facing this month. They are all important and each has its unique political realities: the recent National Firefighter Line-of-Duty Deaths Summit; the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) Dinner and Seminars; the American Fire Service Position Paper on the FIRE Act; and a fire service senior executive in the Department of Homeland Security.
National Firefighter Line-of-Duty Deaths Summit. On March 10 and 11, a very special event took place in Tampa, FL. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation brought together 200 fire service leaders to develop strategic initiatives designed to reduce the annual number of firefighter line-of-duty deaths by 25% over the next five years and 50% over the next 10 years.
This was no doubt the first time that this particular group of high-profile members of the fire service had ever assembled to formulate a single plan to deal with the issue of firefighter fatalities. It was impressive. They worked hard and concluded the summit by creating strategic initiatives that will become the basis for specific action plans that must come to life throughout the fire service if we are to meet the goals of the summit.
We all know that there will be cultural and political challenges to overcome if the work completed at the summit has a chance at success. It will take each of the summit participants and others in our industry to do their part when opportunities to lead present themselves. Some of the summit initiatives are bold in scope and will surely rock some boats as they surface, but they are boats that need rocking.
Let’s work together to use the internal fire service political process to help reduce the number of firefighters killed in the line of duty each year. We owe that to our firefighters – and we owe it to their survivors.
Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) Dinner and Seminars. On May 5, CFSI will host the 16th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars in Washington, DC. The theme this year is “Preparing for the Alarm.” Your support for CFSI and participation in this event are very important.
CFSI is the sole organization with the specific mission of building coalitions among the various fire service organizations so that issues of common interest can gain the support of Congress, the White House, and Federal Agencies. CFSI educates and provides information that helps federal legislators and their staffs to better support our nation’s fire service as a whole. When something good happens for the fire service in Washington, you can bet CFSI played a key role in it.
I hope you are in Washington for this event. You will enjoy a full day of exceptional seminars on Capitol Hill and a tremendous dinner that will make you proud to be in attendance. If the fire and emergency services hope to exert collective influence at the federal level, CFSI will be front and center helping to make it happen.
CFSI is about building the capability for the fire service to speak with one voice on issues of common concern and interest. The institute is critical to the success of fire service politics at the federal level. Support it in whatever way you can; you are certainly the beneficiaries of its work.
The American Fire Service Position Paper on the FIRE Act. In February, CFSI facilitated the development of The American Fire Service Position Paper on The Reauthorization of The Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (the FIRE Act). Ten major fire service organizations signed off on this collectively developed “White Paper.” The FIRE Act is up for reauthorization during this congressional session and it’s sure to be a significant political challenge to get it passed and signed by the President.