Italian Organization Joins the NVFC as First International Member

Italian fire service organization Associazione Edelweiss has joined the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) as the Council’s first International Member. International outreach is an important focus of the NVFC, and the new International Membership option creates a way to facilitate additional collaboration, communication, and involvement.

The NVFC has a long history of fostering international relationships and promoting idea-sharing and communication among the global fire and emergency services community. Recently, the Council expanded its international outreach by forming an International Relations Committee and creating an International Membership option for fire service organizations from other countries.

“We are very pleased to welcome Associazione Edelweiss into the NVFC membership,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “International collaboration and idea-exchange is beneficial to all involved as it enhances all of our capabilities, knowledge, and experiences. By opening up NVFC membership to our partner organizations across the world, we can work together to expand these efforts and create a stronger network among the international fire service community.”

Founded in 1996, Edelweiss is active in the field of civic protection and operates in the areas of EMS, wildfire, logistics, and special rescue, including one of the few trained urban search and rescue (USAR) units in Italy. USAR is an especially important role for the association, as there are no other USAR teams in the Calabria region where they are based and of the few other teams that exist nationally, none are certified by the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group. 

Stittleburg and NVFC Executive Committee Member Kevin Quinn attended an international urban search and rescue training exercise hosted by Edelweiss in Italy last summer. During the event, Edelweiss was informed that the NVFC was creating a new International Membership. “USA has the best USAR teams in the world, and to be among the best we must learn by the best, so our organization decided to join,” said Francesco ‘Narda’ Viscomi of Edelweiss.

“We think that we can learn a lot of things from an organization that has more experience than us,” Viscomi continued. “We are faithful that this partnership can be good for us from the point of view of international relationships and training.” Representatives from Edelweiss plan to attend the NVFC’s fall board meeting in College Station, TX, in October, and hopefully spend a few extra days of training at the nearby facility at TEEX.

In addition to Italy, the NVFC has relationships with fire service organizations across the globe, including Australia, England, Finland, Germany, Greece, and Japan. The NVFC is also a member of the Organización de Bomberos Americanos, which consists of representatives from fire service organizations in North and South America including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, and Uruguay.