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It was April 25-26, 2012, at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC. Front and center was the 24th annual Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) seminars and dinner. Nearly 2,000 representatives of the fire and emergency services were in attendance to celebrate the efforts of our nation’s firefighters in their ongoing commitment to protecting lives and property. The audience included leaders from the fire and emergency services community, as well as elected officials and other supporters. It was truly the place to be at that point in time and was indicative of efforts to bring members of the vast fire and emergency services community together to work on behalf of the industry overall.
The CFSI encouraged attendees to meet with their elected officials on Capitol Hill about current issues and needs of the fire and emergency services. In addition to making these visits, seminars were conducted throughout both days. A cadre of excellent speakers covered these topics:
• Automatic Fire Sprinklers
• Public Safety Communications Systems
• Adopting Model Codes and Standards
• Wildland Urban Interface Fires
• Responding During the Economic Downturn
• Fire Service-Based EMS
• The Role of FEMA and USFA
• Firefighter Roadside Safety
• Transitions in Volunteer and Combination Departments
• Working Together on Capitol Hill
• Vision 20/20
• Congressional Roundtable
• Budget Priorities for DHS Programs
• Everyone Goes Home Town Hall Meeting
This curriculum of seminars offered something for everyone and provided many sessions to choose from, depending on a person’s specific areas of interest.
The theme of the dinner this year was “Legacy of Leadership.” This theme recognized the tremendous contributions of those who have led the American fire service since its beginning. The program was dedicated to all of those who have led – and continue to lead – our fire departments, major fire service membership organizations, state fire offices, affiliate organizations and, of course, the CFSI.
The dinner program was highlighted by a tribute to Hal Bruno, a tremendous fire service leader and Firehouse® political columnist who passed away in November 2011. The touching tribute was delivered by Honorary Fire Service Caucus Co-Chairman Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). Other speakers on the dinner program included:
• Chief Ernest (Ernie) Mitchell Jr., the U.S. Fire Administrator
• Louis J. Amabili, America Burning commissioner
• Congressman Peter King (R-New York), honorary Fire Service Caucus co-chairman
• Senator Tom Carper (D-Delaware), honorary Fire Service Caucus co-chairman
• Congressman Rob Andrews (D-New Jersey), honorary Fire Service Caucus chairman
The dinner program also included presentations of the following national fire service awards:
• CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award presented to Marcine Goodloe, president of the Montgomery County, MD, Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association (see page 20)
• CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award presented to the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training for its Skid Avoidance for Fire Apparatus Drivers (SAFAD) program
• CFSI/IFSTA at Oklahoma State University Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education presented to Meri-K Appy, former president of the nonprofit Home Safety Council and an advocate for public safety education
• CFSI/Medicalert Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Awards presented to the Mesa, AZ, Fire Department; Center Point, AL, Fire District; and Selden, NY, Fire Department.
Speakers throughout the evening made it clear it is through strong leadership, as well as the unwavering commitment of fire service members and partners, that fire organizations continue to innovate and perform well in all aspects of their missions. In keeping with the leadership theme, it was noted that all aspects of fire and emergency services are being significantly challenged by reductions in fire department budgets created by the nation’s ongoing economic struggles.