Capitol Hill Success: Start By Building Partnerships and Saying “Thanks”

The first half of the 108th session of Congress is history. By most accounts, it was a successful session for the fire service, perhaps one of the best.

Shortly before the Holiday season, I had an opportunity to witness a great illustration of a fire service organization's respect for an elected leader. Former Senator Bill Roth, former Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, died at age 82 of a heart attack. Senator Roth rarely missed a Delaware fire service event and always availed himself to the DVFA. His funeral service was held on a Sunday on the University of Delaware campus. Over 400 individuals attended to pay their last respect to the Senator, including the Governor, the congressional delegation, his former Senate colleagues and other distinguished guests. Sitting directly behind the Senator's family were 75 members of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen's Association in dress uniform. They were there not out of necessity but out of respect and admiration for one of their most ardent supporters.

So the message I want to impart is one of gratitude. We, as a fire service, should never take for granted the support we receive from our friends on Capitol Hill or in our state capitals. We were successful in 2003 because of members like Congressman Etheridge, and of course the mainstays of the Fire Caucus including Congressmen Weldon and Hoyer, Senator McCain, Sarbanes and others. It is our responsibility, as organizations or as individuals, to say thanks to them. That is how you sustain partnership, and in doing so, cultivate future success.