Fire Politics: Advocating on Behalf Of Fire Service-Based EMS

Many fire service leaders from management and labor strongly advocate the importance of effectively representing fire service-based EMS systems in the political arena. This includes focusing those efforts at the national, state and local levels of government where decisions are made that significantly impact the EMS service delivery capabilities of fire departments.

This issue is in the spotlight now because of changes being implemented throughout the country with the phase-in of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Educating elected officials and other policy-makers about the advantages of fire service-based EMS will be even more critical as fire departments consider whether to engage in emerging opportunities and options.

Tool kit overhauled

To help the fire service with these challenges, a group of major organizations have significantly overhauled the Fire Service-Based EMS Electronic Tool Kit, originally developed in 2010. These partners included representatives from the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs); International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA); International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC); and Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). This new electronic tool kit can be accessed on the websites of each of the above organizations. Other organizations will provide links from their websites to the tool kit.

This second edition is intended to provide fire service managers and union officials with a great deal of current information on fire service-based EMS. Section one provides information and tools related to fire service-based EMS in general, while section two provides specific information and tools directly related to the impact of the federal act on fire service-based EMS, as well as opportunities that the PPACA may present to fire departments as it is phased-in. Both sections include “talking points” and electronic links to documents described within the tool kit. There are also links to other resources, including websites and videos. Users may access these links and download resources at any time.

The information provided in the kit covers many facets of fire service-based EMS. The “talking points” can be used when communicating inside and/or outside of fire departments, including during presentations to the public, the media, elected officials, public mangers, the medical community and others. The links provide information covering issues such as the historical background of fire service-based EMS, including an overview of deployment and service delivery models. Also included in the tool kit are documents that stress the importance of effective interaction with the medical community, as well as EMS system components such as training and certification and billing and collection. Information about the operations of private EMS providers and other important areas are also stressed within the tool kit.

New and enhanced partnerships between fire departments and the healthcare community, as well as others, are sure to be important as the PPACA is more clearly defined and implemented. This tool kit will provide information and tools to assist fire departments in so many ways.

Some of the decisions made regarding the future of fire service-based EMS will be made by leaders on the inside of fire departments, but many of the decisions will also be made or approved by leaders on the outside of the department. These include a broad group of people, including elected and appointed public officials. Having good information, data and other tools will be critical to fire departments when making their case for maintaining and enhancing fire service-based EMS systems in the near term – and long term – future.

Thanks to the Metro Chiefs, IAFF, IFSTA, IAFC and CFSI for dedicating the resources, knowledge, motivation and leadership necessary to create this kit. Now it’s up to leaders within the fire service to make good use of it. n


Dennis Compton presents “If You’re an Officer, Be a Leader” and “Critical Fire Department Challenges Can Have Political Solutions: What Are They?” and moderates the “Chiefs Panel” at Firehouse World 2014.