I’m humbled to stand before you this morning and share this stage with some of the best leaders in our business. Chief Sinclair has been a formidable mentor and I’m honored to follow him as President of the IAFC. Chief Curmode, Chief Eggleston and Chief Carrizzo – I’m excited to work and serve with you in the coming year. I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize Chief Kerr and Chief Bryant for the time they spent mentoring and guiding me as well. Thank you for your guidance and friendship.
Serving as both 1st and 2nd vice president over the past couple years has been a challenging and rewarding experience. I’m grateful for the support of the association’s members, board of directors and staff as I embark on this journey as president. I’m prepared and committed to making a difference. The IAFC has made me a better and more effective chief. Any success I celebrate at my department back home can be attributed in part to the knowledge and connections I’ve made in this association.
The fire and emergency service has many issues before us. My focus this year is simple: finding ways to help fire chiefs make our communities and citizens safer. I’ve often said that the job of today’s fire chiefs is more challenging than it’s ever been. The scrutiny for our performance and decisions is systemic and the pressure to “do more with less” is a battle cry many of us are familiar with. The threats that complicate our job are seemingly endless – from the conventional fire, rescue, EMS and hazardous materials categories – to terrorism and everything in between. Our business is to solve problems that vary greatly in scope and complexity – and to do so quickly and efficiently.
Over the next year, we will undertake efforts to better lead, educate, and serve fire chiefs across the world. We will do this through improved outreach, better social media interaction, strategic political advocacy and by continuing to elevate OUR annual conference, Fire-Rescue International. Research, data, and technology are tools that must be harnessed by fire chiefs to be successful. We cannot be allergic to change and evidenced-based decisions. Therefore, our association will push forward in finding ways to harness, disseminate, and improve these cutting-edge initiatives.
An area of emphasis for this coming year will be in terrorism and domestic emergency preparedness. While the attacks of 9/11 were 16 years ago, we can’t become complacent to the threat posed by domestic and international terrorists and the preparedness levels we need in the fire service. Therefore, I’m calling on our Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee to help the fire service battle complacency and mediocrity in this important and evolving area and to produce initiatives that we can build upon in the years to come.
In closing, I want to recognize and thank some people for their encouragement and support during my service to the IAFC. Here today in the audience is my boss, Rogers Mayor Greg Hines. While many of you may have city managers or mayors who support public safety, I can assure you that none of them rival my mayor. He’s an unwavering supporter of the fire service who is both a “hands off” leader and someone who has always had my back – even when it wasn’t in his best interest to do so. Thanks Mayor Hines for your leadership and friendship.
My family, including my saintly parents, youngest son, and wife are here as well. I hope they don’t come to enjoy my haphazard absences over the next year! I appreciate your support and tolerance for these endeavors. For those of you that haven’t had the pleasure of meeting my wife, Amanda, she is one part super MOM and one part super MODEL. Thanks for juggling your own demanding career, three kids, and my career with seemingly little effort. I love you and look forward to hanging out sometime in 2019.
To the 132 members of my department both here and back at home, thank you for the work you do. If it wasn’t for your professionalism, get-it-done attitude, and work ethic, I wouldn’t be standing here. I’m proud to wear our department’s patch and will do my best to represent you well as I serve in this capacity.
To all the members of the IAFC – I just have one “ask” of you this coming year. Strive to not just be a card-carrying member of this association. Get involved; be engaged. Attempt to share your questions and lessons and participate in all that our association has to offer! Be involved in your division, join a section, apply to serve on a committee and get the next generation of leadership involved. Sign them up and galvanize our association.
Now let’s get to work! Thank you.
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more