As your president, I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together over the past 11 months. Our focus has been on providing tools for fire chiefs, such as continuing the AFG and SAFER Grants. I’ve had the opportunity to testify three times before Congress about our priority issues.
We have created the Women Fire Chiefs Council and the International Diversity Executive Leadership Program. Both programs will give voice to people we need to hear from.
Together, we—that means all of us—took action that will strengthen our association by reaffirming our federation of divisions. We made permanent board seats for three important sections: Safety Health and Survival, Fire and Life Safety, and Emergency Medical Services. Our association is strong and growing stronger by listening to many voices.
It has been a great honor to serve as your president. It has allowed me to see many of the members and talk to them about their daily work.
Each of you make a difference in your communities and with your firefighters. You provide critical services such as EMS, fire suppression, prevention, hazmat, specialized rescue, emergency management and more.
We still have many challenges ahead for us. To be prepared, we need to be life-long learners. The fires we go to now are more dangerous than when I started 40 years ago. Toxic smoke and contaminants are giving our firefighters cancers at a rate 14% higher than the general population. We have drugs—Fentanyl and Carfentanyl synthetics—that a simple brush against causes unconsciousness.
We need to question our practices: “Attack from the unburned side.” … “No, transitional attack from wherever you can get water on the fire.”
What are you teaching your firefighters about flow path and air management of fires? What is the best way to decontaminate firefighters? Will we ever get true funding for our role in healthcare?
There are many unanswered questions and challenges. We have much work ahead. Thank you for your support and friendship. Stay safe.
Fire Chief John Sinclair
President and Chairman of the Board