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A Fire Service Wish List from the IAFC Board of Directors

 Gifts come in all shape and sizes: from gadgets to make our life easier to the blessing of family and friends. Some gifts are easy to give and receive, others are more difficult. They require some sacrifice to give—they may even be difficult to accept—but those gifts often give the most satisfaction of all.

As year-end approaches and readers consider the gifts they’ve received this year and the outlook for the year ahead, this article highlights some things members of the IAFC board of directors have added to their personal wish list for the fire and emergency service in 2012.

The Gift of Common Sense – For the public, a sprinkler in every home. For personnel, for every responder buckle up, every time.

The Gift of Inspiration – For senior personnel to share with new and potential firefighters/EMTs why the fire and emergency service is a calling and the humble honor each receives from their service to others. For new members to remind senior personnel of the passion and excitement for such service.

The Gifts of Humor and Imagination – To remember that laughter is not only OK, but also a valuable resource in supporting mental health, physical wellbeing and the power to believe nothing is impossible. Wouldn’t it be nice to get some Converse Chuck Taylor, NFPA-compliant wildland sneakers? How about a brand new Class-A pumper that washes itself?

The Gift of Creativity – Thought is the greatest power humans possess. Think of the possibilities if every officer, firefighter and EMT gave just one new, shiny idea to the service in 2012.

The Gift of a Sense of Self – For all fire departments and their members to fully embrace the spectrum of life-saving capabilities they provide. To gain an appreciation that EMS is a valuable and lasting part of who the fire service is. To focus on prevention as well as response. For the courage to self-define a new level of emergency service.

The Gift of a New Brand – Combining this new sense of self with a better understanding of its customer base leads to the gift of a new public image, or brand. Simply put, the wish is for the fire department to become the Apple Computers of public safety. Apple has built upon its iconic Mac, expanding its services, to become the quintessential, leading-edge technology company. So too can fire departments build on fire suppression, expanding its services, to become the quintessential, leading-edge emergency response agency. By creating synergies between the services fire departments offer that directly speak to the needs of our communities, elected officials and residents will see the fire department not as just fighting fires, but as the comprehensive emergency-response agency it is.

The Gift of Open-Mindedness – In today’s environment, the ability for fire departments, elected officials and the public to keep an open mind is critical to finding solutions that best fit a community—including the fire service that serves it. For example, consolidating fire and emergency service resources across jurisdictions has proven effective for many communities. Unfortunately, there are many roadblocks that stand in the way of success—or even approaching the situation—that must be torn down. An open mind can destroy roadblocks, find ways around them or find alternative paths to success.

The Gift of Gratitude – For fire and EMS chiefs and chief officers to know how much they are appreciated for the important and often thankless job they do. Today’s economic, political and labor climate has put infinitely more pressure on our fire service leaders, where they’re forced to make unpopular decisions. Let them know the support of their families, their communities and their brothers and sisters in the service.

The Gift of Knowledge – From resources that fully explain the issues impacting their communities to data and research that supports meaningful decision making. Because the gift of knowledge is best when shared, this combines the wish for resources and the ability to convey fire service knowledge to others, such as an excellent canned presentation for elected officials explaining fire service deployment, matching resources to risk and maintaining firefighter competencies.

The Gift of Wisdom – To support the application of knowledge and a proactive focus that utilizes limited resources on actions that are most likely to produce results for those we serve. To fully embrace the concept of internal evaluation and continuous improvement.

The Gift of Unity – Politically and economically, the fire service has never been as challenged as it is now. Fire service organizations must represent the specific needs of their members, but there are many common issues that the community should—and must—tackle together. With all that fire departments are facing, this wish is that the national fire and emergency service organizations would come together to identify common issues and unify their voices on issues relative to our collective sustainability.

The Gift of Communication – For firefighters from Key West, Fla., to Kodiak, Alaska, to have the capabilities to communicate on a common radio spectrum when deployed during catastrophic emergencies and for a dedicated public-safety broadband network.

The Gift of Professionalism – For the public to acknowledge that fire and emergency service is a calling on par with the professionalism of other highly sought fields like medicine and law. For members of the fire service to see the value in their professionalism, to aspire to higher levels of education and to seek national credentials.

Compiled by Ann Davison, CAE, strategic information manager, based on personal viewpoints from individual members. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of the IAFC.

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