The Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association (Metro Chiefs), a section of both the IAFC and NFPA, held its 2011 annual conference in Charlotte, N.C., May 13-18. At the meeting, members elected new officers, engaged in educational sessions, recognized outstanding achievements and took a firm position on proposed U.S. federal budget cuts.
The theme of the 2011 conference was Tough Times – Tough Choices. Chief Kelvin Cochran of Atlanta gave the keynote address, followed by a panel discussion on economic issues and solutions on the last day of the conference. The theme was also reflected in serious discussions concerning the position of Metro Chiefs on issues critical to high-quality local and national public safety.
Resolutions on DHS Funding Proposal and Other National Issues
The association’s members voted to take a strong position against the efforts in Washington to cut federal funding for fire and emergency service-related programs within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including the AFG and SAFER programs, the Urban Areas Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Metropolitan Medical Response System.
The association passed a resolution on DHS Funding Proposal in which they state their strong support of working collaboratively with other fire service organizations to “explain and convey the critical importance of restoring existing funding levels to or increasing funding levels for all of these programs” to those on Capitol Hill.
In addition, motions were passed expressing unanimous support of other national-level initiatives, such as the NFPA fire-sprinkler initiative and Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the National Fallen Fire Fighters Foundation and the allocation of the D Block communications spectrum to public safety in order to create of a national public-safety broadband network.
Recognition of Leaders
Chief Richard “Smokey” Dyer of the Kansas City (Mo.) Fire Department was awarded the Metropolitan Fire Chief of the Year Award. This award is given to one member of the Metro Chiefs each year to recognize demonstrated leadership and accomplishments, as well as contributions to the organization and to fire safety in general. The selection is based on a majority vote by all members of the Metro in good standing with the organization.
Among the achievements listed in Chief Dyer’s nomination were his contributions to national efforts in the fields of homeland security, fire and emergency service education and improving labor-management relations.
Chief Glenn Gaines, acting administrator of the U.S. Fire Administration and former chief of the Fairfax County (Va.) Fire and Rescue Department, was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award. This award is presented to a past or present Metro Chief based on a history of accomplishments, contributions to the organization, contributions to fire safety, demonstrated leadership, challenges overcome and similar considerations.
Chief Gaines’ contributions to the fire service—particularly in the areas of education, safety and adequate support for fire and emergency service operation—were citied. He was commended both for his leadership on these issues over his 37-year career with Fairfax County, as well as for dedication in sharing his knowledge and experience at the national level.
New Officers Installed
In addition to recognizing these veterans of service, the association installed its 2011-2012 slate of officers and board members:
- President: Chief Ned Pettus, Jr., Columbus (Ohio) Division of Fire
- Vice President: Chief Steven Dean, Mobile (Ala.) Fire and Rescue Dept.
- Secretary: Chief G. Keith Bryant of the Oklahoma City Fire Dept.
- Treasurer: Chief Larry Few of the Fulton County (Ga.) Fire & Rescue Dept.
- Board member: Chief Ken Block of the Edmonton (Alb.) Emergency Response Dept.
- Immediate past president Chief Gregory Frederick, Louisville (Ky.) Division of Fire
- Senior board member: Chief William Bryson (Ret.), Miami (Fla.) Fire & Rescue Dept.
- Alternate board member: Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Austin (Tex.) Fire Dept.
A comprehensive program featured lessons learned and success stories to inspire and educate leaders at the local level. It included topics ranging from economics to electric vehicles and from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico to the latest innovations in fire and emergency response from Europe and China.
The program also offered perspectives on the importance of working together toward shared goals at the national and international levels. These perspectives were provided by such speakers as Chief Gaines; Jack Parow, IAFC president and chairman of the board; Mark Light, IAFC CEO and executive director; Jim Shannon, NFPA president & CEO; and Chief Peter Holland, president of the Chief Fire Officers Association of the United Kingdom.
More than 90 Metro chiefs from the United States, Australia, Canada and the Peoples’ Republic of China attended the conference.
Congratulations to the Charlotte Fire Department for hosting an outstanding conference. Next year’s Metro conference will be hosted by the Louisville (Ky.) Fire Department on May 18-23, 2012.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders.