Anyone who knows me knows that they can count on me to lend a helping hand when it’s needed most, and I plan to prove that during my service as IAFC president.
Every day I talk with fire chiefs facing the most challenging issues of their careers. Be it funding shortfalls, the impact of federal and state mandates or preparing for disasters that cross jurisdictional boundaries, a fire chief’s role is more complex than ever. For that reason, I am particularly committed to ensuring that the IAFC is a valuable and viable resource for fire chiefs well into the future.
Although the IAFC will address many initiatives in the coming year, I see the following as key steps toward this vision.
Vertical Integration: Many of you have heard me use the phrase “vertical integration,” but what does it mean exactly? Simply put, I believe that our focus must be aligned at all levels, from the local fire chief to the national board. Significant effort is underway to tie the vision, goal and activities of the IAFC’s board, sections and committees to those of the divisions to ensure we’re working cohesively to achieve what’s most important for the fire service.
The IAFC’s 2009—2010 Strategic Plan is the cornerstone of this endeavor. As we are faced with competing demands and interests, the plan clearly identifies and prioritizes strategies that will yield the best results and most value for the membership and our partners.
It will also be important for the IAFC to initiate and maintain direct contact with the new federal administration to strengthen relationships and educate national leaders as to what is needed for the nation’s fire departments to serve with the most efficacy.
Innovative & Strategic Partnerships: At every level of the fire service we must promote a culture that “leans forward” by seeking innovation and strategic alliances. With limited funding and resources, we must think big, think regionally and think collaboratively in an effort to remain valuable to communities at all times. The Western Division did exactly this when it reinvented itself, adding the Daily Dispatch and FireRescue-GPO enterprises. These provided a significant revenue stream and made the Western Division a true member-services division.
I continually challenge my home department, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, to think strategically and to seek better and more cost-effective ways of doing business. Examples include implementing non-traditional deployment solutions or bringing on corporate partners to expand program reach.
Lastly, we must look for opportunities to cooperate and share resources at all levels. Recent history has proven that disasters don’t care about jurisdictional boundaries; therefore, we must plan in advance to combine our local, regional and national resources for our individual and collective benefit. While much progress has been made, the IAFC will continue to push for even greater progress toward interstate/intrastate mutual-aid initiatives.
Preplan for Success: We know it’s always better to have a preplan when called to a fire; planning for the future of our organization is no different. Although the fire service will always have connections to the past, the future is being forced upon us so we have a choice to make. We can choose to simply react to it or we can choose to ensure our success by shaping our destiny. I am choosing to lean forward and am excited to help put the IAFC members and partners in the best position to tackle the challenges ahead.
If you are not yet a member of the IAFC, I hope you will consider joining. We need your involvement, and the IAFC can offer so many advantages to its members. Join me and become active in an IAFC division, section or committee. Together we are one and will make a difference in the future of the fire and emergency service.