On February 14, I had the opportunity to testify on the future of FEMA before the House subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications of the Homeland Security Committee. There were three panelists, a captain with the Michigan State Police representing the National Governors Association, a director from Save the Children and me, representing all of you. Each panelist was given five minutes to testify and then we took questions from the representatives themselves. Easy-peasy, done in an hour. But wait, there’s more.
That hour of testimony was preceded by hundreds of hours put in by many people to ensure our message was crafted correctly.
Ken LaSala, our director of Government Relations and Policy, has developed relationships with staff members throughout Congress to enable us to be invited to speak in the first place. Just before the meeting, many of the Congressional staffers came up and introduced themselves, thanking us for being there and thanking Ken for setting it up. Of all the professional associations that interface with FEMA, we were one of only three invited to testify.
Then there’s the written testimony that Ken creates and is reviewed and edited for weeks by Chief Kevin McGee, our Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee chair; Chief Kim Zagaris, Emergency Management Committee chair; Mark Light, IAFC CEO and executive director; Jim Philipps, assistant director of Communications; and me as IAFC president.
Together, we make sure the voice of the IAFC member is loud and strong.
After the hearing, there was direct follow-up to the legislative offices, and Ken and I visited the one congressman who raised questions during the testimony.
My point to you as busy fire chiefs is that a lot of work is going on in Washington on your behalf. The IAFC staff is filled with passionate professionals who are truly gifted. They’re working tirelessly on your behalf.
When asked, please reach out to your representative or senator and help on the specific bills. All politics is local.
Fire Chief John Sinclair
President and Chairman of the Board