Each year, the Congressional Fire Services Institute and National Fallen Firefighters Foundation have the distinct pleasure of honoring organizations with the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The award recognizes organizations for outstanding leadership in advancing firefighter health and safety. The presentation takes place at the annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC. This year, CFSI and NFFF recognized your organization, the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, and the United Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute with the Sarbanes award.
We are witnessing significant strides in reducing the number of deaths and injuries in the fire service. Organizations like ISFSI are driving much of the progress. They are providing leadership to push the research agenda and encouraging their memberships to implement programs that teach safer decision-making and actions.
Funding is also driving much of the progress we are witnessing. In his acceptance speech for the Sarbanes award, ISFSI President Steve Pegram recognized the Assistance to Firefighters grant program that funded much of the work ISFSI has performed throughout the years.
Many organizations represent the fire service at the local, state and federal levels, and they all share the same mission: to ensure that our first responders have the necessary training, equipment, and staffing to execute their work safely and effectively. At the federal level, the national organizations have been able to preserve the AFG and Staff for Adequate Fire and Emergency Services Response (SAFER) grant programs through their collective work.
As ISFSI members, you should always take advantage of every opportunity to share with your members of Congress the impact these grants programs have had on ISFSI – and for that matter your local fire departments if they have received AFG and SAFER funding. Explain to them the emerging threats that we are experiencing across the country and the expectations of the public for local fire departments to respond when these crises occur. We need to remind Congress constantly that our first responders need federal support given the growing demands of their work.
CFSI values its relationship with the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, an organization that continues to be at the vanguard of firefighter training. I was recently asked to write a monthly column for your publication and quickly accepted. Hopefully, the insight I can provide on the work of the fire organizations in Washington, DC will incite your interest to become involved.
We’ve all heard the adage, strength in numbers. There are few places where it holds more meaning than in our National’s Capital.
Bill Webb, Executive Director
Congressional Fire Services Institute