NVFC Holds 2012 Spring Meeting

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Board of Directors met in Alexandria, VA, from April 27-29, 2012. Representatives from 42 states attended the semi-annual meeting to conduct NVFC business and discuss issues and initiatives supporting the volunteer fire and emergency medical services. 

2012 NVFC Board of Directors

During the meeting, the board voted to approve a strategic plan that will guide the organization’s direction through 2015. The board also voted to advocate the establishment of state and/or regional traffic incident management organizations where appropriate throughout the United States. 

Committees met on a variety of topics, including recruitment and retention, legislation, volunteer advocacy, and health and safety. In addition, the NVFC’s EMS/Rescue Section met to discuss issues specifically relating to EMS.

A prestigious line-up of guest speakers addressed the board on a variety of topics. A shared emphasis among the speakers as well as throughout the meeting was the importance of the entire fire service community working together towards common goals.

U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr.

U.S. Fire Administrator Ernest Mitchell Jr. was the keynote speaker at the Chairman’s Lunch. He noted that priorities in the fire service include firefighter health and fitness, saving civilian lives, and preventing the preventable loss of firefighters. He addressed the issues of wildland firefighting, the EFO program, and the deployment strategy for national preparedness. He concluded by stressing the need to keep raising the level of the fire service.

Timothy Manning, Deputy Administrator for Protection and National Preparedness, FEMA, focused on the Assistance to Firefighter Grant and Homeland Security Grant programs and took questions from the board regarding the grant process. He stressed that it is very important that departments apply for the AFG and SAFER grants as justification for funding is crucial to maintain or grow grant program appropriations.

Paul Jodoin, Traffic Incident Management Program Manager, Emergency Transportation Operations Team, Department of Transportation, spoke about changing traffic incident management through training. He stressed that traffic incident management is a safety issue for emergency responders. “Responders are getting killed on the highway,” Jodoin said. “Firefighters are getting killed, police offers are getting killed… We’re all vulnerable out there.” He finished his presentation with an overview of the new Traffic Incident Management Responder Course, a two-day course that is broken into modules and will be available online for convenience. Implementation of the course will begin soon.

NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg (left) and IAFC President Al H. Gillespie

Chief Al H. Gillespie, President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), emphasized the importance of the NVFC and IAFC working together and highlighted some of the current partnership efforts, including International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week. He also reviewed some of the new volunteer-focused programs and trainings available through the IAFC web site. Cynthia Cox, IAFC Program Manager, Volunteer Workforce Solutions, provided information on the Volunteer Workforce Solutions program, which helps departments explore new and innovative ways to recruit and retain volunteers.

Ken Willette, Division Manager, Public Fire Protection, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), discussed the partnership between the NVFC and NFPA, changes being made to the NFPA code development and review process, the Electric Vehicle Safety Training program, and “Sparky’s Wish List,” a new initiative that helps fire departments get funding for life-saving fire safety educational materials. He also promoted the video contest that the NFPA, NVFC, and IAFC are holding in conjunction with International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week.

Bruce Johnson, Director of Fire Service Activities, Government Relations, International Code Council (ICC), provided an overview of several ICC initiatives, including the Sound the Alarm program partnership with the NVFC. He also noted that May is Building Safety Month, and the focus of Week 3 (May 21-27) is fire safety and awareness.

PSOB Roundtable

In addition to the speakers, two informative roundtable panel discussions were presented to the board. The first focused on the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program (PSOB). Hope Janke from the Department of Justice, Ron Siarnicki, Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and NVFC Vermont Director Bob Kilpeck, who serves as the LAST team leader in Vermont, provided information about the PSOB process and how LAST teams can help departments and families file a claim. NVFC Maryland Director Lee Sachs facilitated the discussion.

The second roundtable provided information on how emergency response organizations can best utilize social media as a tool for public safety. Panelists included Bill Delaney, Program Manager, Community Safety Education and Social Media, Office of the Fire Chief, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Greg Licamele, Fairfax County Public Affairs, and facilitator Joy Swain, Support to DHS First Responders Group, Science and Technology Directorate. Additional resources provided by the panel for further assistance on the subject were www.FirstResponder.gov, the DHS First Responder Communities of Practice, and www.SM4EM.org.

Ken Knipper (right) receives the Director Award from 1st Vice Chair Jeff Cash

On Saturday, April 28, the NVFC held its annual awards banquet to honor the recipients of the 2012 awards. NVFC Kentucky Director Ken Knipper was presented with the prestigious E. James Monihan Director Award for his extraordinary dedication and service on behalf of the NVFC, especially in the area of EMS.

“I’m deeply honored and humbled. I thank the board and the Executive Committee,” said Knipper, who had been unaware in advance that he was chosen for the award. “It’s been a real pleasure to represent this organization, and I’ve found it easy to go out there and pitch this organization and represent the volunteer EMS providers in this country. They need a voice.”

Chief Lawrence Plumer of Wisconsin received the NVFC Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Rosenbauer America. James Conomea of Clay County (FL) Fire Rescue was presented with the Fire Prevention Award, sponsored by First Alert. The Cherryville (NC) Fire Department was named the Junior Firefighter Program of the Year and Katherine (Kassie) Brierley of the Coventry (CT) Volunteer Fire Association was named Junior Firefighter of the Year.

Left to right: Chief Lawrence PlumerKassie Brierley, James Conomea, and Chris Cash (head of the Cherryville junior firefighter program)

In addition, a separate award presentation was made on April 26 to bestow the Legislator of the Year Award to Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) for his leadership in introducing and passing legislation to create the first ever nationwide broadband communications network to connect public safety officials and first responders during emergencies.

Left to right: NVFC WV Director Tom Miller, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg, NVFC Legislative Committee Chair John Lyman

The 2012 spring meeting was sponsored by ESIP, Motorola Solutions, Treatment Solutions, First Alert, Rosenbauer America, Tyco International, NFPA, Virginia State Firefighter’s Association, Maryland State Firemen’s Association, California Casualty, Provident, and The Pennsylvania Fireman. The NVFC thanks these supporters for their ongoing commitment to the NVFC and the volunteer fire and emergency services.

The NVFC Board of Directors is comprised of representatives from 49 state fire service associations. The group meets in person twice a year. The next NVFC board meeting will be held in Fairbanks, Alaska, from September 5-8. Learn more about the NVFC at www.nvfc.org. Find more photos from the spring meeting on the NVFC page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nvfc1.