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Members Answer the Call to Action: Grassroots Advocacy

When talking about IAFC’s government relations efforts in Washington, people will often speak broadly of the association or specifically about the current leadership.

Members who are elected leaders certainly play a central role. This year, IAFC leadership was called to testify at multiple Congressional hearings and participate in high-level discussions with both Congress and the Obama Administration on critical public-safety issues like emergency communications, federal funding, volunteer issues and EMS oversight and regulation.

During CFSI week alone, the executive committee of the IAFC board of directors participated 56 meetings over the course of three days with such national policymakers as:

  • Janet Napolitano, secretary of Homeland Security
  • Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate majority leader
  • Senator John McCain
  • Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller IV
  • Their own members of Congress
  • Congressional staff to advocate for the IAFC’s legislative and budgetary priorities

The real strength of the IAFC efforts is even broader. It comes from the thousands of fire chiefs around the country who educate their senators and representatives about America’s fire and emergency service. The same is true beyond Washington, where your efforts to fight for industry-wide improvements or against threats to public safety make a significant difference in the daily lives of responders and those they protect. Because of IAFC members:

  • Funding of the FIRE and SAFER Grant Programs was restored.
  • The Administration and many in Congress understand the criticality of priority access for public-safety to access to wireless communication tools. Necessary legislation was introduced to create a national public-safety broadband network.
  • The federal government knows fire-based EMS is concerned with conflicts between the reimbursement policies outlined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and recommendations made by the Negotiated Rulemaking Committee in 2000.
  • Local fire departments had a voice in the creation of the Cohesive Wildfire Management Strategy.
  • The fire and emergency service has clear direction on the importance of sound public-policy decisions surrounding subscription-based fire protection and the criticality of fire protection as an essential government service.
  • Proposed changes to the ICC bylaws that would have had an adverse effect on the voice of emergency responders in the code process were struck down.
  • NIOSH has begun incorporating information and recommendations for sprinkler and automatic fire-suppression system use in LODD investigation reports.
  • Volunteer EMS responders who are officially authorized or licensed to provide EMS response as part of the emergency response system in their communities are now eligible for federal PSOB benefits.
  • Local fire departments have a voice on national policy discussions concerning the development of a state regulatory-framework template to govern helicopter EMS operations.

The IAFC can provide the tools and information to help you succeed. You are the IAFC, and you’re making a difference.

Take action now. Visit the IAFC’s Government Relations webpage to learn more about what issues are hot and how you can help.

Ken LaSala is the IAFC’s director of government relations and policy.

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