"....to educate Members of Congress about fire and life safety issues."
Whether you are a firefighter, emergency services responder, manufacturer or fire service leader, the United States Congress is more aware of your concerns because of the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI). Established in 1989 as a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute, CFSI is designed to educate members of Congress about the needs and challenges of our nation's fire and emergency services so that the federal government provides the types of training and funding needed by our first responders.
To learn about our mission on Capitol Hill please click here.
THE SAFE BUILDING CODES INCENTIVE ACT: Worth a Pound of Cure
Executive Director, Congressional Fire Services Institute
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Many of you know that Benjamin Franklin coined that phrase. It has become an adage in the fire service, one that I like to use myself when speaking on the issue of prevention and mitigation.
Now, Congress has an opportunity to make Mr. Franklin proud -- to do something that has the potential of saving billions of federal dollars and, more importantly, human lives. But it is going to require some pushing and prodding from public safety and other stakeholders to convince Congress to take the required action.
There is a piece of legislation pending in both the House and the Senate titled the Safe Building Code Incentive Act (HR 1878 and S. 924) that would do just that. Succinctly put, the bill offers an incentive to states for adopting and enforcing model building codes. The operative word in this measure is "incentive." This is not big government forcing its will on states and local communities; instead, this measure creates an incentive for states to adopt model building codes. It does not penalize states, but instead, rewards them for good policy. These states would become eligible for an additional four percent in post-disaster FEMA grants.
The Congressional Fire Services Institute is part of advocacy group called the BuildStrong Coalition that is encouraging Congress to approve the legislation. The CFSI staff has attended numerous meetings with congressional staff on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of the measure. The BuildStrong Coalition is a broad-based group of associations that represent civil engineers, architects, insurance companies, code organizations, and public safety. In meetings with congressional staff, association representatives share their perspectives on the measure, adding important pieces of information to the mosaic of why this legislation can make communities across America safer. For the most part, the staff has been very receptive; however, if there's one concern that we've heard from each staffer, it's the cost.
CFSI Offering Commemorative 25th Anniversary Dinner Gift Package
The Congressional Fire Services Institute has put together a special package of commemorative gifts that celebrate the 25th anniversary of the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner. You did not have to attend this year's program to appreciate meaning and value of these items. CFSI is offering the entire package for a special price of $25 (including handling and shipping). Order now as supplies are limited.
Throughout the history of the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner, our nation's highest ranking political leaders -- including three Presidents and four Vice Presidents -- have participated to recognize the bravery and dedication of our nation's first responders. This year's program featured Vice President Joe Biden who delivered the keynote address before 2,000 fire and emergency services leaders. The program also featured remarks from four leaders of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus (Senator Tom Carper, Congressman Steny Hoyer, Congressman Peter King and Congressman Rob Andrews) and former member of Congress Curt Weldon, the founder of the Fire Caucus.
The gift package includes a DVD of this year's program featuring the speeches from the aforementioned political leaders and the presentations of national awards honoring individuals and organization for outstanding leadership. In their speeches, our elected leaders discuss how they are working together to advance fire service issues in Washington. These are important messages worth sharing with your fire service peers.
The package also includes the 2013 CFSI Challenge Coin and two special pieces of artwork ideal for framing. The Protecting Our Nation print captures images of firefighters who stood ready to respond on September 11th, 2001. It is the work of Chas Fagan, recognized as one of America's most highly acclaimed artists of his generation. For an additional $25, you can receive a special print signed by the six firefighters appearing in the painting. The second poster displays the front covers of all 25 dinner programs, beginning with the very first program in 1989. Anyone who has ever attended the Dinner will find themselves reflecting back on favorite memories from previous years when they see this poster.
Click here to place your order online. Or send a check made payable to the Congressional Fire Services Institute in the amount of $25 -- or $50 and we'll include a signed print of Protecting Our Nation. Our mailing address is 900 Second Street, NE, Suite 303, Washington, DC 20002. If you have any questions, please contact CFSI at 202-371-1277.
Fire and Emergency Services Leaders Renew Their Commitment at the 25th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Seminars Program
The 25th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner, sponsored by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, was a celebration of both the past and present, while sending a message to the 2,000 guests to renew their commitment to the future of the fire and emergency services. The keynote speaker of the event was Vice President Joe Biden, a former chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus who delivered a compelling and moving speech about the bravery and dedication of our nation's first responders.
The theme of the program was "Renewing Our Commitment." To capture the theme, CFSI developed a program that recognized special moments and individuals from previous dinners. In honor of the Dinner's most steadfast supporters, the Institute invited 16 individuals who have attended all 25 programs to deliver the Pledge of Allegiance. They were followed by the Presentation of the Colors. This honor was performed by the six firefighters who served as the models for the "Protecting Our Nation" painting that paid tribute to our nation's fire service for the unwavering dedication they demonstrated on September 11, 2001.
The honor of introducing the Vice President was given to Louis J. Amabili, a member of the CFSI Board of Directors and a personal friend of the VicePresident's. In 1973, Amabili served on the National Commission on Fire Prevention and Control that produced the seminal report, America Burning. His contributions to the fire service were on the minds of many that evening when he walked onto the stage with the Vice President and reappeared following the keynote address to present the CFSI Honorary Chief's helmet to the Vice President.
Six of the eight co-chairs of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus participated in this year's program. Senator Susan Collins (ME) and Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) delivered remarks at the Board of Directors Reception . During the dinner program, Senator Tom Carper and Congressmen Steny Hoyer, Peter King and Rob Andrews each spoke. And the program concluded with a special address from Curt Weldon, founder of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. In addition, CFSI Board members shared congratulatory messages sent from the three Presidents who keynoted past dinners -- President George H.W. Bush, President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.
Weldon spoke twice during the program. In addition to his closing remarks, he was asked to deliver a special tribute to the late-Arthur J. Glatfelter, an original member of the CFSI Board of Directors. When Weldon first proposed the idea of an institute that would serve as a confluence for developing consensus among the major fire service organizations, his first call was to Art Glatfelter who embraced the idea. He lauded Glatfelter for being the most generous supporter of the fire service in corporate America. A World War II veteran and a proud veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Glatfelter passed away in February in York, PA following a lengthy illness.
The Dinner program also featured CFSI's annual awards program, honoring individuals and organizations for outstanding leadership in advancing fire and emergency services issues. Thanks to the generous support the Institute receives from corporate sponsors -- including Motorola Solutions, the International Fire Service Training Association at Oklahoma State University, MedicAlert Foundation, State Farm Insurance and VFIS, CFSI is able to presents the awards to the recipients during the dinner program. Each year CFSI looks forward to these presentations and encourages public safety individuals and organizations across the country to become involved in our awards program. Additional information is available on our website (www.cfsi.org) under the tab titled "Leadership Awards."
The Dinner is the culmination of a two-day program that also included a seminars series and opportunities for fire service leaders to meet with their members of Congress. The seminars covered a broad range of federal policy issues of importance to the nation's fire service. The presenters included members of Congress, federal agency officials and national public safety leaders. When not attending the seminars, fire service officials were busy walking the halls of Congress and meeting with their elected officials.
The importance of this event cannot be understated. Each day on Capitol Hill, special interest groups can be seen on Capitol Hill delivering their agendas to our elected officials. As Congress and the Administration continue to make difficult choices on funding priorities, the fire service must remain actively involved in advocating our concerns. The presence of two thousand fire officials on Capitol Hill each year sends a powerful message to our elected leaders, forcing them to pay heed to our concerns.
On April 30-May 1, 2014, we hope that more leaders of the fire and emergency services will participate in this program -- a program that demonstrates strength in numbers and fire service unity. When we work together as one fire service, it sends a positive message to our elected officials, making them more inclined to work with us to address our challenges.
Please contact CFSI at firstname.lastname@example.org if you ever have any questions about our mission or about the 2014 dinner and seminars program.
ARTHUR J. GLATFELTER - Our Leader, Our Friend - Leaves Behind An Incredible Legacy. We Mourn His Loss and Bid Him a Peaceful Journey.
Art Glatfelter with Congressman Curt Weldon, Vice President Al Gore, Congressman Steny Hoyer and Senator Paul Sarbanes. 1993
The Congressional Fire Services Institute’s Board of Directors and staff extend their thoughts and prayers to the family of Art Glatfelter who passed away in his hometown of York, Pennsylvania on February 14, 2013.
Widely respected by both fire service leaders and congressional leaders, Art recognized the importance of establishing an organization that could unite the fire service around a common agenda when the idea was first broached by Art’s friend, Congressman Curt Weldon in 1989. An original member of the CFSI Board of Directors, Art remained an active member until stepping down in 2008. While contributions to CFSI and the many organizations and causes that benefited from his altruism cannot be quantified, his legacy has left an indelible mark on our organization and so many others.
We are forever grateful to Art for his support of our mission. A dear friend of utmost integrity and character and a true American hero — Art Glatfelter will be missed by many. At the 2008 National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner, I delivered a tribute to Art following his decision to step down from our board. It attempts to capture what Art has meant to me personally and to our organization. I would like to share it one more time as my way of paying tribute to my dear friend.
Bill Webb, CFSI Executive Director
TRIBUTE TO ART GLATFELTER
One of my favorite Will Rogers quotes is — and no it's not "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer" — but rather, "We can't all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by."
Tonight, I'd like to sit on the curb for a brief minute or two and clap for my dear friend and mentor Art Glatfelter. Art is the kind of hero who truly symbolizes the virtues and ideals of our great nation. A model of generosity and integrity, Art has been there for our nation's fire service for approximately 50 years sharing so much with so many causes that stretch beyond providing insurance protection.
At our most recent board meeting, Art announced that he would be stepping down as a board member of CFSI -- a decision that's best for him but one that hit me like a baby swinging a hammer that hit me right in the gut.
Tonight, I'd like to publicly thank Art for his unwavering commitment to CFSI. He was one of the first—if not the first — to step forward and offer his support of the Institute in 1989 and has remained steadfast in helping me personally and CFSI continue to grow....The more I learned about Art -- his service to our country, his character, and his generosity — the more I looked up to him as a role model....For those of us fortunate to know Art, you can't help but feel a strong bond towards this man.
As Steve Austin once said, "When you're in a room with Art Glatfelter, you feel like you're in the presence of greatness."
If I were a fellow Marine, I'd say to you Art, Semper Fi. But instead, I'm that guy sitting on the curb waving a big placard that reads, "Thank you and God bless you Art Glatfelter."
Preparing America's Fire & Emergency Services for the Next Call
SEQUESTRATION: A Term Once Foreign to Many Is Now the Name Du Jour in Washington, DC
In 2011, Congress was at an impasse on raising the debt ceiling. In a move that many members of Congress now regret, they approved the Budget Control Act of 2011 which granted authority to raise the ceiling as long as Congress could agree on a concomitant level of cuts. The task fell on a Super Committee -- a 12-member panel -- to recommend $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next ten years. If the Committee failed (which it did), the legislation would trigger sequestration, an across the board cut to virtually every discretionary federal program. Congress had until the end of 2012 to act.
Congress did act. But rather than reaching agreement on the full $1.2 trillion in cuts, they came up with a temporary agreement that staved off sequestration for another three months. The clock is ticking with judgment day set for March 1. If Congress can't come to agreement on a deficit reduction plan, then sequestration will take effect and the results could cause major problems for Wall Street and Main Street.
Government agencies have been put on notice to develop plans for implementing the across the board cuts. This includes the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Fire Administration. Although the details of such plans are kept close to the chest, USFA is expected to take an eight percent cut if sequestration occurs.
With less than a month before the looming deadline, there is no sign that Congress and the Administration have reached any type of preliminary agreement to prevent the cuts. As we have become accustomed to witnessing, our elected leaders will most likely wait until the 11th hour to strike a deal - one that might kick the can further down the road or perhaps force them to strike some type of compromise.
Unfortunately, the term compromise has taken on a negative connotation in this town. There are few leaders willing to drive in the middle lane for fear of being broadsided by colleagues in either the left or right lanes. But compromise is imperative in order to resolve the fiscal problems that beset our nation.
The whole idea behind sequestration was to force Congress to address the debt. We do dumb things in Congress. This sequestration idea is the dumbest thing, said Senator Lindsay Graham. But as he and other members have stated, Congress created sequestration and now they have to deal with it. Let's just hope that they will before the March 1 deadline forces indiscriminate cuts that will severely undermine the ability to protect our homeland.
Consensus is the Key to Our Success
"Legislation has been put on the fast track." That's not a term Congress often uses anymore. These days with partisan politics deeply imbedded in our political systems, it's a small wonder that the wheels of government continue to spin.
We all know that Congress and the Obama Administration are being consumed by issues of monumental significance - the recession, health care legislation, the H1N1 epidemic and the war in Afghanistan. I certainly can't recall during my lifetime when so many issues of major consequence faced our nation. It is an extraordinary time to be working in Washington, DC and seeing how our elected leaders are navigating their ways through these turbulent waters.