Political leaders address IAFC conference attendees
Washington, D.C. was the site of the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ annual conference, and two political leaders addressed the chiefs on the need for a working relationship between the fire service and government.
Senator Daniel Quayle, the Republican Party’s vice-presidential candidate, praised the fire service for its “spirit of volunteerism.” He called for a doubling of the S 50,000 benefit paid to survivors of firefighters killed in the line of duty and backed federal support of the National Fire Academy and the U.S. Fire Administration. The Indiana senator also likened the obligation of national defense to the firefighters’ defense of their communities.
Quayle was the first candidate for national executive office to address the chiefs in the organization’s 115-year history.
Congressman Curt Weldon, leader of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, delivered the conference’s keynote address. The former volunteer fire chief from Pennsylvania encouraged attendees to flex their muscle by identifying needs and working the political process. He spoke of the fire service caucus, the fourth largest on Capitol Hill, which has a membership of 234 senators and representatives. State fire service caucuses are being formed in Texas and Pennsylvania, he said.
IAFC members voted at the conference to choose new officers. Those elected were Chief Ron Coleman, of the Fullerton (California) Fire Department, as the new president; first vice president, Chief M.H. “Jim” Estepp, Prince Georges County (Maryland) Fire Department; second vice president, Chief W.D. Hilton, Cobb Count)(Georgia) Department of Fire and Emergency Services; and treasurer, Chief Gary Nichols, Sedgwick County (Kansas) Fire Department.
More than 12,000 people were at the conference, setting an attendance record.