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President's Letter: Continuum

... Continuing the work started by the previous IAFC presidents.

Imagine if your fire department had a new fire chief each year. Imagine the ongoing challenge to identify organizational goals and stay on course to complete a mission. Imagine the coordination, teamwork and support you would need to keep a department running smoothly over a continuum of nearly 140 years.

It’s hard to imagine, yet as I wrap up my year as IAFC president, I've seen firsthand the effort required to do this and the success the effort can create. I can say, unequivocally, that the IAFC is highly effective at defining its goals, staying on task and achieving its missions. It is a well-oiled machine in which each member is a cog in the wheels that propel the organization forward.

For the past year, I have had the privilege and opportunity to serve as a big cog on a big wheel. As I rotate onward toward a new role, there will be another leader to take my place, as members elect officers who progress through the officer ranks, growing from their leadership experiences and contributing them back again.

During my year serving as your president and chairman of the board, we accomplished some great milestones, all of which were started before I was sworn into the office of president and all of which will continue to move forward under our future presidents:

  • We were successful in getting the D Block for the development of a public-safety broadband network. We must continue to press forward with development.
  • We began to bring fire service leadership from around the world closer together through the first Fire Service Global Leadership Summit in Zurich, Switzerland. We'll continue this dialog at the second summit in Australia later this year.
  • We testified in front of Congress on a number of issues, including telecommunications, funding for the USFA, the national drug shortage, the continuity plan for first response in case of a biological incident and more—important policy issues that must continue to move forward.
  • We began to tackle the work of improving the image of the fire service.

The cogs of the machine that allow the president to fulfill the associations’ mission are many: the executive committee and the IAFC board of directors, the executive director/CEO and staff that fulfill the direction provided by the board of directors, our component leadership and the President’s Council, family and department team members. I thank each of you. It has been an honor and privilege to work beside you and to get a unique view of how the IAFC became and remains so strong.

Of course, the center of it all is the members. I thank the members of this great organization for placing your trust in me to lead this organization that has represented the leadership of the fire and emergency service since 1873. I thank you for your support, ideas and new perspectives.

I'll be turning the reins over to Chief Hank Clemmensen, who is extremely capable and will do a wonderful job as president and chairman of the board. Chief Clemmensen will incorporate his own priorities while …

Chief Al H. Gillespie, EFO, CFO, MIFireE
President and Chairman of the Board

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