This article serves two purposes:
- To showcase and celebrate the work of our members in improving the industry, furthering the profession and making communities safer and stronger
- To measure the progress of the association's strategic plan and the organizational goals to lead, educate and serve
In 2012, the IAFC board of directors adopted five position papers intended to provide guidance to the fire and emergency service. These positions statements demonstrate IAFC members as providing a leading and authoritative voice on issues directly impacting fire departments, first responders and those they serve.
The IAFC's adoption of a National Drug Shortage position paper (PDF) highlighted the work of the EMS section in its drive to get federal agencies and pharmaceutical industry action in addressing the growing problem of national drug shortages and to provide directions to fire-department officials facing life-threatening shortages.
The work of the EMS Section to collaborate with others in the industry and educate stakeholders on the real and growing danger of drug shortages played a major role in ensuring the passage of the FDA Safety and Innovation Act also this year.
The Safety, Health and Survival (SHS) section brought forward the position paper Addressing the Need for Annual Occupational Medical Exams and Fitness Evaluations for All Firefighters (PDF).
The IAFC updated two existing position papers to keep pace with the changing environment and ensure fire chiefs have the most current guidance available. The Fire & Life Safety Section brought forward the Use of Residential Smoke Alarms (PDF). While the core of the position, recommending a mix of ionization and photoelectric technology, remained unchanged, it captures recent research and provides a broad perspective on smoke-alarm education.
The SHS section authored the Drug and Alcohol-Free Awareness position statement (PDF) and updated the existing alcohol policy to address controlled substances and offer guidance on the growing challenges posed by prescription and over-the-counter medications.
The IAFC board also voted to lend the IAFC voice to the Standard for Public Safety Telecommunicators when Responding to Calls of Missing, Abducted, and Sexually Exploited Children (PDF). The IAFC was among the first fire service organizations to adopt this APCO standard typically directed to law enforcement.
Programs and Initiatives
As part of our goal to lead, educate and serve, the IAFC manages nearly 20 programs that provide no or low-cost resources directly to fire departments. These programs not only have a direct boots-on-the-ground impact, but also contribute to national and international data collection and analysis that can be applied to further learning and policy development. Here are some milestones for this year.
The Volunteer Workforce Solutions initiative, produced in partnership with state chiefs associations, is mapping new territory in its innovative approach to volunteer recruitment and retention. This year, departments in Virginia and Connecticut provided valuable insight into the challenges facing volunteer fire departments and learning some important lessons. These state-based programs are relatively new; they're already revealing similar trends in the importance of leadership in recruitment.
The IAFC celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery program in 2012. Energizer, the IAFC and 25 departments across the country hosted community events celebrating the occasion and more than 6,000 departments participated in the annual program.
The Hydrogen Response Consideration training was launched as a free online learning program for firefighters to teach individuals the hazards associated with hydrogen in their community. The Electronic Learning Community was created to provide a flexible, inexpensive means for emergency responders to receive high-quality training. Since it was introduced, more than 3,000 people have completed hazmat training through the program.
In an effort to support the reduction of home fire fatalities, the IAFC introduced an online toolkit, Smart Choices for Smoke Alarm Placement. The toolkit provides fire chiefs, fire officials and public fire educators with materials to educate themselves and their communities about the different types of residential smoke alarms and how the placement of alarms may maximize their utility. The kit was developed in conjunction with Kidde, the largest manufacturer of residential fire-safety products and with the support of the IAFC's Fire and Life Safety Section.
Just last month, the IAFC received a grant for the creation of the Collaborative Planning for Community Response Program to provide national training to enable whole-community collaboration in efforts related to inclusive emergency planning. Watch for more details on this three-year program in 2013.
The IAFC issued several new publications and resource guides this year:
IAFC members also authored two federal-level resources under cooperative agreements with U.S. government agencies.
The IAFC is a long-standing champion of fire and emergency service issues in Washington, and this year was no exception. While the highlight of the year was the landmark passage of the Middle Class Tax Relieve and Job Creation Act, which included the federal allocation of the D-block spectrum to public safety and the pathway to a national public safety broadband network, there were many other success stories as well.
- Successfully preventing the inclusion of provisions that that could have prohibited public-safety agencies from being able to perform Helicopter EMS missions in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.
- Congress passed the MAP-21 Act to authorize funding for the nation's highway system. The act includes IAFC-backed provisions to improve hazmat training for first responders and establishes a pilot program for testing a new, paperless hazmat shipping system.
- FDA Safety and Innovation Act contained solutions for preventing and responding to drug shortages in the EMS community.
IAFC officers testified before congress many times, addressing such issues as medical countermeasures for responders, building codes, the benefits of homeland security grants and the USFA reauthorization.
What People Are Saying
This [EMS webinar] has been one of the most relevant … webinars I've attended. It provided a tremendous amount of information. Thank you.
—Ashland (N.C.) Technical Rescue Member
The class was fantastic and people are still talking about it.
—Participant in VCOS's Beyond Hoses & Helmets program
It's a tremendous accomplishment to have 120 communities empowering their residents with the [Ready, Set, Go!] program's important preparedness messages. We hope that the use of programs like this one will continue to grow and allow Texans to be as prepared as possible for the next wildfire.
—Texas Forest Service official. As of December, there are now more than 200 RSG! Program participants in the state of Texas
You should call it the New Wow!
—Participant of the New Now conference
The experience at Harvard taught me a new meaning of humility as I learned from some of the most brilliant minds of our time and participated with other students who share remarkable insight. Without question, it was one of the most challenging academic endeavors I have experienced.
—Harvard Fire Executive Fellowship winner in a thank you note to the IAFC
I have been a volunteer firefighter for 32 years. After hearing and signing up for it, the near misses shared have saved my [!&&] as well as my fellow brothers and sisters.
—National Fire Fighter Near-Miss Reporting System end-user; the IAFC thanks everyone who rallied support for the Near- Miss program in 2012
I attended the last pilot last week and found the [Training for Regional Collaboration program] exceptionally well developed.
—FEMA Region official
You're just awesome! I'll write [our] release tomorrow…
—Member who was able to use the information in an IAFC member alert to deliver a public-safety message and educational resources to her community
I needed a little people guidance and was not sure what direction to go. One phone call to [the IAFC] and the keys to the solution are quickly in front of me.
It's outstanding when the Chief's association and industry works together for a common good. Kudos to both organizations.
—Member's reaction to the launch of the Smart Choices for Smoke Alarm Placement campaign