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President's Letter: Let's Reduce Fire Deaths Together

It is an honor to serve as your new president, especially as the first woman to lead our great organization. I don’t mind being the first, but I hope I won’t be the last—or the only.

As I look forward to the upcoming year, there are three areas I’ll be focusing on: Building upon the Past, Responding to the Present and Preparing for the Future.

We can continue to learn important lessons from the past by reducing firefighter deaths—including line of duty deaths and preventable medical conditions—and by focusing on the wellbeing and safety of our firefighters through positive change.

The fire service has made great strides in adopting successful business practices. There are three areas we need to remain steadfast in as we respond to the present: developing sustainability as both a global organization and as individual departments, building relationships in the community and exploring and addressing our medical mission.

Active-shooter events, management of the wildland-urban interface and the impact on service delivery by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are all examples of the present-day challenges we must continue to meet head-on.

As we prepare for the future, we need to focus on embracing cutting-edge technology, such as the proliferation of rescue robotics in emergency management, and on reducing the impact of fire. This reduction is critical to my overall vision of Zero Fire Deaths; the installation of working smoke alarms in at-risk neighborhoods, residential sprinklers, stricter code enforcement and incorporating research into operational best practices—these are all examples of proactive steps we can take to enhance firefighter and resident safety.

I want to challenge each of you to do your part to reduce fire deaths. I won’t presume to tell you what that means in your department. But what I do know is that there is at least one thing you can do to help. Can you:

  • Conduct a smoke alarm drive in a particular area of your community?
  • Lobby before your local government entity for residential sprinklers?
  • Ensure your firefighters get their physicals every year and stay healthy?

Whatever it is, there is something you can do. Now is the time to do it! Promise them, promise me, and promise your brothers and sisters in the fire service that you will do your part to ensure that “Everyone Goes Home.”

Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, EFO, CFO, MPA
IAFC President & Chair of the Board

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