NVFC Holds 2014 Spring Board Meeting

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) held its annual spring board meeting in Alexandria, VA, on May 2-3. Representatives from 38 state fire associations attended. The NVFC Board of Directors meets in person twice a year to conduct Council business and address issues of critical importance to the fire and emergency services.

One focus of the spring 2014 meeting was first responder behavioral health. During the meeting, the NVFC launched the new Share the Load campaign, which provides resources, tools, and information to help first firefighters, EMTs, departments, and families address critical behavioral health issues in the emergency services. The campaign features the Fire/EMS Helpline, a free, confidential helpline first responders and their families can call anytime day or night for assistance with behavioral health issues; an online resource center; an informational newsletter; and outreach materials.

In conjunction with the launch, a roundtable was held to provide the board with an overview of behavioral health issues and challenges in the fire and emergency services, as well as resources and methods for overcoming these challenges. Jeff Cash, North Carolina Director to the NVFC, facilitated the roundtable. Speakers included Dr. David Ballard, Director of the American Psychological Association; Jeff Dill, Captain of the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District and founder of the Firefighter Behavioral Health Alliance; and Mike Healy, Treatment Consultant with American Addiction Centers.

L-R: Jeff Dill, David Ballard, Mike Healy, and Jeff Cash participated in the behavioral health roundtable.
Fire Engineering Editor-In-Chief Bobby Halton spoke at the Chairman's Lunch.

Additional guest speakers at the meeting addressed a variety of topics. Fire Engineering Editor-in-Chief Bobby Halton spoke during the Chairman’s Luncheon about the strength and character of the volunteer fire service. Rob Freese, senior vice president of marketing at Globe Manufacturing Company, then spoke about the Globe Gear Giveaway Program and other partnership opportunities with the NVFC.

In the Friday afternoon session, Chief Bill Metcalf, President of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, gave an update on IAFC initiatives and legislative activities as well as big issues currently facing the fire service. David Gudinas, Section Chief of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program, FEMA, and Maggie Wilson, Director of the SAFER Grant Program, FEMA, provided an update to the board regarding these key fire service grant programs. Denise O’Donnell, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, spoke about the Public Safety Officer’s Benefits Program.

The NVFC board meeting also provided an opportunity for the NVFC’s committees to meet and discuss items of importance to the fire and emergency services. Fourteen committees met on issues including legislation, standards, health and safety, recruitment and retention, and international relations. Meetings were also held for the NVFC Foundation and the EMS/Rescue Section.

Many board members arrived early to the DC area to attend the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s (CFSI) National Fire & Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars on May 1 as well as spend time on Capitol Hill to encourage their congressional representatives to support legislation important to the volunteer fire service.

In conjunction with the meeting, the NVFC board held an awards banquet on May 2 to present its annual fire service achievement awards. Recipients were:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by Rosenbauer America:  Chief Charles Singleton (VA)
  • Fire Prevention Award, sponsored by First Alert:  Jim Pickett (AK)
  • Junior Firefighter of the Year, sponsored by Tyco: Jennifer Schaefer (ND)
  • Junior Firefighter Program of the Year, sponsored by Tyco: Washington County High School Fire and Rescue Academy ( MD)

Click here for more information about the award winners.

Robert “Red” McKeon was awarded the E. James Monihan Director Award for his longtime commitment and outstanding achievements as a member of the NVFC Board of Directors. Click here to learn more.

NVFC 2014 award winners (L-R) Jim Pickett; Jennifer Schaefer; Red McKeon; Journie Bartles, Jamie Drawbaugh, and Phil Rowe from Washington County High School Fire and Rescue Academy; and Charles Singleton.

In addition, the NVFC named Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Representative Lou Barletta (R-PA) the 2014 Legislators of the Year for their leadership in helping volunteer fire and EMS agencies avoid tax penalties under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for failing to furnish nominally-compensated volunteer responders with health insurance coverage.

NVFC Chairman Phil Stittleburg presented Sen. Mark Warner (left) with the Legislator of the Year Award at the welcome breakfast on May 2. NVFC board members Bob Timko, Phil Stittleburg, and John Lyman presented Rep. Lou Barletta (second from left) with the Legislator of the Year Award at his office on May 1.

The NVFC board will next meet on September 17-19, 2014, in Lafayette, LA. The NVFC thanks all of the sponsors of the 2014 spring meeting: Provident, Fire Engineering, IFSTA, McNeil and Company, Motorola, National Fire Protection Association, Virginia State Firefighter’s Association, American Addiction Centers, California Casualty, MSA, and The Pennsylvania Fireman.

2014 NVFC Board of Directors