The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held its annual Spring Board Meeting in Arlington, Virginia from April 2-6. The meeting focused on topics of critical importance to the fire and emergency services, including key legislation, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG), and the role of EMS in the fire service. The Council also expanded its Executive Committee, created a new Health and Safety Committee, and solidified partnerships with several organizations.
The Honorable Gregory B. Cade, Administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), gave the keynote address at the Chairman’s Luncheon on April 4. He emphasized the need to work together in order to make a difference and the importance of gaining support from the local level. “I think it’s the strength of the fire service that makes our country great,” Cade said. “On behalf of the President, Secretary Chertoff, and [FEMA] Administrator Paulison, we thank you for what you do.”
Cade stressed the importance of starting the process to select a new Fire Administrator now so that the job can be filled when the new Administration takes office. He encouraged the NVFC Board to create a list of qualified candidates and present this to the final presidential nominees to make sure the right person is in place February 1. He also spoke on issues such as residential sprinklers, the AFG program, disaster reserve work force, the National Incident Management System, the National Response Framework, getting fire prevention messages out to the public, and the dangers of toy-like novelty lighters.
In addition to Cade, several prominent speakers addressed the NVFC Board during the meeting. Dr. Dennis Onieal, Superintendent of the National Fire Academy (NFA), spoke about the training offered by the NFA, current initiatives of USFA and NFA, and retention and recruitment. Brock Bierman, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Small State and Rural Advocate and Director of the Community Preparedness Division, a component of the FEMA National Preparedness Directorate, talked about Citizen Corps and noted the importance of continuing this community preparedness initiative into the new administration. The NVFC administers Fire Corps, a Citizen Corps program that connects community members with their local fire/EMS departments to assist with non-emergency tasks.
Glenn Gaines and Tom Harrington of the Department of Homeland Security discussed the AFG program and answered questions from the NVFC Board regarding which departments are receiving these grants. The Board expressed concern regarding small rural fire departments not receiving AFG awards.
Other distinguished speakers included Drew Dawson, Chief of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Department of Transportation (DOT); Jeffrey Jacobson, Co-founder of the Wills for Heroes Foundation; Bill Jenaway, Vice President of VFIS; George Sifakis, Government Relations Representative of Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA); Ryan Paquet, Assistant Director of the Office of Hazardous Materials Safety, DOT; and Jerry Johnston, President of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.
The NVFC presented its Fire Prevention Award to Donald Dalrymple during an Awards Banquet on April 5. The Council also recognized the Dunkin’ Brands Community Foundation with a special appreciation award for its support of the organization and the National Junior Firefighter Program. The Foundation recently awarded the NVFC a $389,000 grant to help build the Program and provide scholarships and grants to outstanding junior firefighters and their departments.
The NVFC Board also voted to support and partner with the Wills for Heroes Foundation, HOSA, and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network in order to further mutual goals. The Wills for Heroes Foundation provides free estate planning services to first responders, including wills, living wills, and powers of attorney. HOSA has a mission to promote career opportunities in health care and to enhance the delivery of quality health care to all people. Common goals between HOSA and the NVFC include service to the community, empowering youth, and preparing for the unexpected. The Firefighter Cancer Support Network aims to provide timely assistance to all fire service members and their families in the event of cancer diagnosis.
AIG, a world leader in insurance and financial services, increased its support of the NVFC during the meeting by presenting a donation to the NVFC’s Heart-Healthy Firefighter Program. The NVFC Foundation also held its bi-annual auction to benefit the Foundation.
More NVFC: www.nvfc.org