NVFC Appoints CEO, Celebrates 45th Anniversary at the 2021 Fall Board Meeting

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held its annual fall board meeting in Jackson, WY, on October 13-15. A total of 67 directors representing 43 states met at the event, most in person while others opted to attend remotely through live streaming technology. Also in attendance were 22 additional fire service representatives and NVFC partners.

“After a difficult year and a half of strictly virtual meetings, the NVFC was happy to once again have the opportunity to meet in person to reconnect and further the business of the Council,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “We had a successful three days of committee meetings, educational presentations, and general sessions while also celebrating the organization’s 45th anniversary and honoring our 2021 award winners.”

The NVFC board is comprised of up to two representatives from 47 state fire associations who meet twice a year to conduct Council business, discuss and vote on issues of importance to the volunteer fire service, and guide the direction of the organization. This year marks the 45th anniversary of the NVFC, which was celebrated in a special reception organized by meeting host Wyoming State Firemen’s Association.

The below provides a recap of the 2021 fall board meeting.

Appointment of CEO

The general session kicked off with a tribute to the NVFC’s longtime CEO, Heather Schafer, who passed away in March after 27 years with the Council. Sarah Lee, who had served as deputy CEO for 15 years, took on the role of interim CEO in May. The board voted during the fall meeting to officially make Lee the CEO of the NVFC.

Council Business

During the in-person meeting as well as via Zoom the week prior, NVFC committees met to discuss issues ranging from legislation and wildland, to recruitment and retention and health, safety, and training. The EMS/Rescue Section also met.

The general sessions featured discussions on current and emerging issues in the volunteer fire and emergency services. The board also voted to establish the Heather Schafer Memorial Scholarship to help individuals attend NVFC training. ADT has agreed to sponsor the first year of scholarships.

In addition, the board voted to appoint a representative to the NFPA’s Electronic Safety Equipment Technical Committee, establish a working group to help individuals and fire departments establish plans for disaster resilience, and support reducing the minimum volunteer staffing percentage for eligibility for Volunteer Fire Assistance funding from 80 percent to 70 percent.


The schedule included a prestigious line-up of speakers and panels that discussed a wide variety of topics of importance to the fire and emergency service community. These included:

  • A welcome to Wyoming by Jackson Hole Fire & EMS Chief Brady Hansen
  • Training on “DISC Leadership – Succeeding in Your Style” by Milla Austin of IDEX Fire and Safety
  • A presentation on “State Fire Association Role as a Volunteer Advocate” by NVFC directors from Oklahoma Sheri Nickel and Cliff Davidson
  • A drone roundtable discussion and demonstration
  • A presentation on “Media Relations and How to Get the Most Out of It” by Brandon Sansone of Praytell Agency

Special Events

The Wyoming State Firemen’s Association hosted a 45th anniversary reception for the NVFC on October 13 as well as a dinner on October 14, which included an auction that raised $8,649 to support the NVFC’s health and safety initiatives. The NVFC recognized winners of its 2021 fire service achievement awards during the Chair’s Lunch on October 15. Read more about the awards ceremony and this year’s winners here. Also at the lunch, the NVFC was presented with the TRANSCAER Chairman’s Award in recognition of the Council’s ongoing partnership with TRANSCAER and the efforts of the NVFC’s Hazmat Response Committee.

Meeting Sponsors

The NVFC thanks fall meeting host Wyoming State Firemen’s Association and all of the sponsors of the fall meeting: 3M Scott Fire & Safety, Anheuser-Busch Foundation, California Casualty, Columbia Southern University, Clarion Fire & Rescue Group, ESIP, FirstNet Authority, FLAIM, IDEX Fire & Safety, Josh Cellars, Lincoln Financial Group, National Fire Protection Association, OnStar, Provident, and Verizon Frontline.

The next NVFC board meeting will take place in Arlington, VA, on April 7-9, 2022.