So, where do you turn when assistance is needed?
Where I live, we have a regional organization that meets every other month and naturally, local issues will become a part of the meeting records.
If you are plugged in at the state level, several organizations, such as the state fire chiefs association, an association of fire protection districts and a state firefighters association are there to address state issues.
Beyond that, you may be fortunate enough to have a working relationship with your state representatives.
When you study this political structure, it is easy to feel that a solution to your particular problem is beyond your reach. But, it shouldn’t be.
Where do you go-who do you turn to-to get your issue resolved?
You know; there was a time some years ago when volunteer fire departments had the single, largest voting block in their respective communities. It may feel uncomfortable to some who are reading this, but “old school” also meant “old school politics”, where connections in a community wielded power and fire departments had it.
Continue Reading Volunteers; Who Is Listening?
Do you ever ask yourself “why does the smaller demographic in the fire service yield the most power? Career firefighters in this country make up less than 30% of the nation’s firefighters; yet, they pack a powerful voice. It is most likely because of their affiliation with the IAFF.
What do the volunteers have besides the National Volunteer Fire Council?
Will the NVFC come in and arbitrate a local disagreement?
I mean; it took them TEN years to issue a white paper
(http://www.nvfc.org/files/documents/Volunteer_Training_White_Paper.pdf) on volunteer firefighter training. When I say that it took ten years, I mean that, many of us have been voicing concerns about training, recruitment and retention since at least the year 2000.
It is a very good paper and I don’t want to come off as overly critical. They are very blunt in the paper. They identify three critical areas: Time Constraints, Resource Constraints and Leadership as critical areas of impediment to training objectives. My favorite phrase from the paper is:
Unfortunately, a large number of volunteer fire departments are still operating with personnel who are not trained to a level consistent with national consensus standards for basic firefighting preparedness. This can lead to ineffective and unsafe responses that put lives and property at risk.
Have we not discussed this many times on the many fire website discussion pages? Are any of the organizations “browsing”? Or do they need an email shot right to their inbox?
So, NVFC is calling for volunteer firefighters to be trained to a national consensus standard that is known as NFPA 1001. I have a suggestion for them…
If they want departments trained to this standard-and many of us already are-then they should offer a free membership into NFPA if they are currently using NFIRS.
If the information from NFIRS is so critical to our fire service-and for the record, I believe that it is-then; it should be worth the price of admission into the NFPA.
My fire department is a member of the NFPA, but let’s face it; it’s pay as you go.
Anyone who is willing to meet NFPA standards should be incentified and I don’t mean by the threat of jail for not doing so.
Small, volunteer departments need help and it shouldn’t have to cost them money that they don’t have. They cannot afford consultants, membership fees and training programs at $1500 a pop.
Our national organizations want compliance from volunteer fire departments. Are they willing to fund their mandates?
What about equipment manufacturers? Maybe instead of wining and dining prospective customers, they can cut back there and instead, offer a ten year membership in NFPA if the fire department purchases equipment from them. Or they could offer IFSTA training programs as an alternative.
What about the scholarship programs where only one firefighter benefits from the money? Instead of offering a scholarship, sponsor a fire department for NFPA membership.
Most of us know what the problems are and I understand that, in many cases, simply throwing money at it won’t fix it.
But, like we found out in Illinois, if you take it to the fire departments, they will respond…and in record numbers. Illinois uses up every training program dollar allocated every year.
If you don’t want to take my word for it, then contact Dave Clark, Deputy Director of the Illinois Fire Service Institute (IFSI).
They have been listening to us for years.
Who is listening to you?
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