The IAFC at 140: Helping Responders Help Responders

One of the benefits of any association is taking the lessons learned from any specific knowledge base or interest group and sharing it with the larger community.

The National Hazardous Materials Fusion Center is a good example of how the IAFC facilitates the sharing of resources across departments and communities.

The Fusion Center was created in 2007 to enhance hazmat responder safety and improve decision-making at hazmat incidents. The creators of this resource developed a very important motto from the outset: "Responders Helping Responders."

The slogan and goal of the Fusion Center aligns with the mission of what the IAFC has aimed to do since its beginning in 1873 by providing vision, information, education, services and representation to the fire and emergency services.

The idea of shared resources passing from first responder to first responder continues. As technology continues to advance in leaps and bounds, similar information sharing and educational resources like the Fusion Center will continue to pop-up, as people and departments yearn for expanding their knowledge base on the incidents most important to their communities.

Another example of where the IAFC takes the educational lead in this particular discipline is administering the International Hazardous Materials Response Teams Conference. This annual conference was originally offered by the Montgomery County (Md.) Fire and Rescue Department then in 1994, the IAFC began managing this event.

This conference brings together hazmat responders to share technology, techniques and lessons learned from around the world. Thirty years later, the conference—and hazmat training generally—remains one of IAFC high-demand special operations areas.

While there is no replacement for some face-to-face connections, technology is allowing for even quicker, more efficient information sharing, enabling more departments to contribute to the ongoing conversations in their particular fields.

The IAFC will continue to play the role of both expert and connector, pairing local conversations on the national level, to ensure that all departments have access to the same materials to help their communities be better prepared for any incident that may come their way.

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