It’s Going, Going, Gone! A Fire & Emergency Services Home Run!

The week of April 15, 2002, was a special time in Washington, D.C. Some dreams of many who are part of (or attached to) the American fire and emergency services were celebrated. Our light in Washington shone brighter than ever before. Yes, the fire...


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The week of April 15, 2002, was a special time in Washington, D.C. Some dreams of many who are part of (or attached to) the American fire and emergency services were celebrated. Our light in Washington shone brighter than ever before. Yes, the fire service was wounded by the terrorist attacks of the past year, but we are moving forward - even though we still have a long way to go. In fact, we will never complete the journey. Progress through politics is an ongoing process.

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Photo by Chuck Snyder
President George W. Bush was the keynote speaker and Firehouse® Magazine Contributing Editor Hal Bruno was the master of ceremonies at this year's 14th annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner.

As you know, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) has been in existence for a decade and a half. For the past 14 years, the CFSI has conducted an annual dinner in Washington to acknowledge fire and emergency services professionals, raise funds to operate the CFSI, and thank those who serve in Congress and various federal agencies for their support. The Congressional Fire Services Caucus has over 340 members of the Senate and House of Representatives, making it the largest congressional caucus.

The CFSI is led by a board of directors, an executive director, Bill Webb, with a small staff, and a National Advisory Committee (NAC) consisting of representatives of over 45 organizations involved in the fire and emergency services industry. Most of you are members of one (or more) of these organizations, so you are directly connected to the CFSI through the memberships.

The primary mission of the CFSI includes educating Congress and federal agencies, providing information, serving as a conduit to join fire service organizations around common issues and legislation, and to communicate with members of Congress, federal agencies, and with others inside and outside the fire and emergency services community.

It has taken many years, and a lot of work by those associated with the CFSI, to build a process that has evolved from everyone's past and present efforts. I have never been to a CFSI event or a National Advisory Committee meeting that made me more proud than the ones conducted in April. Following are a few examples of what you enjoyed if you attended and missed if you didn't:

  • Thursday, April 18, was packed full of interesting, well-attended workshops dealing with the FIRE Act, legislative processes and other critical elements of CFSI involvement.
  • The Chair's Reception (held before the dinner) was honored by the attendance of many dignitaries, including Israel's homeland security director.
  • The theme of the dinner this year was "Protecting Our Nation." Over 2,000 people attended the dinner, which was keynoted by President George W. Bush, who delivered an exceptional speech that included his pledge of support for the fire and emergency services.
  • Hal Bruno did an outstanding job moderating the dinner program. Speakers included caucus leaders such as Congressmen Curt Weldon, Steny Hoyer and Robert Andrews, as well as Senators Paul Sarbanes and Joe Biden. Many other members of the Senate and House of Representatives were also in attendance.
  • The CFSI "Fire Service Organization of the Year" award was presented to the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). It was a very moving tribute to a very deserving organization.
  • I had the privilege of announcing a new addition to the CFSI family of awards, "The Educator Hero Award," sponsored by the Lowe's Home Safety Council in cooperation with the CFSI and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). It will be presented for the first time at the 2003 CFSI dinner.
  • It was also my honor to present the CFSI "Legislator of the Year" award to Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia for his tireless work this past year to increase FIRE Act funding.
  • The CFSI/Motorola "Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership " award was presented posthumously to Chief Raymond Downey of the FDNY. Ray's wife and children accepted the award on his behalf. Their comments touched everyone in the audience, especially those of us lucky enough to have known Ray as a friend and fellow firefighter.
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