Updates from the Fall Meeting 

Rob and I just finished the Fall Meeting on October 28, 2022, with 40-States represented. The conference theme was Unity, Passion, Progress, and a reminder to all of us from Chairman Hirsch that we likely do not honor our spouse and family often enough in their support of what we do. Good advice on what we can work on going forward.

Individual NVFC membership is $21 which opens up their large virtual classroom, webinars, a vast website of other training and program support materials, several prepared PSA topics, a recruitment and retention library, AD&D insurance coverage included, and more.

Special program grants continue from corporate sponsors supporting volunteer firefighter initiatives nationwide. One well-funded grant which was started nearly 2-years ago through the John Deere Foundation is nearly completed. In early 2023 an hour-long ready-for-TV/streaming documentary on volunteer firefighters themed on the importance of volunteering plus the need for recruitment is coming. The John Deere dealer networks will be tasked with promoting this documentary in their respective communities and regions alongside NVFC.

In January 2023 the National Cancer Registry which partnered with NIOSH will move forward. There is no good way of saying it but straight out. This will be a necessary inconvenience of time, especially for older firefighters with a long history of service. The more history you have and especially with more than one department the more time it will take to register. It is so very important in taking this next and critical step in the process. This is going to be promoted at every possible level of the fire service. One of the most significant concerns is volunteers will not take the time to do this. Two additional concerns are “Big Brother” looking at more information which is not how the program was structured and the desire to protect personal information. NIOSH was mandated to provide a system as secure as the IRS in the protection and management of the data. More on this in the future.

The NVFC Foundation made a recommendation which was passed to move all previous NVFC Directors that have served and passed into a new section at the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial which they have arranged. These 26-names are widely scattered but will now be grouped as one section with 18 additional names. It was also discovered to be less costly to purchase new bricks versus moving the existing 26-bricks. That said, Joe Jackson, Board Member (20-244), Philip Sayer, NVFC Director (21-157) and Dr. James Coleberd, NVFC Director (24-259) will be duplicated but now included in a new Section 51-?

A topic that will have continued discussion through 2023 and beyond is Lithium-ion batteries. They are now very commonplace in our everyday lives and have created a lot of confusion regarding their actual hazard status by OSHA. Especially the previous status in their Haz-Com Standard. A common view was the standard does not apply to these items or materials as they are considered articles, which are given an exception. 

OSHA has now restated its position that Lithium-ion batteries shall be included in the standard. Additionally, they are hazardous materials, highly reactive toxic chemicals, and pose several serious hazards if released including the potential for a non-reversible thermal runaway reaction. This occurred in Morris, IL in June 2021. Google “Lithium-ion battery fire, Morris, IL” for more information. Additionally, the term battery in many instances is being replaced with “energy storage system” and just by the new name it is avoiding some regulations. One example until corrected (if corrected?) is the old battery, sorry, the energy storage system is being changed out of a car with a new battery. The old battery, sorry, energy storage system, which has “stranded energy” is deemed “used auto parts” versus Hazardous Material (Morris, IL Fire). More on this subject come.

To minimize information overload, I will close with the following. Firefighter suicide is averaging two per day and growing. PTSD is now better understood but not much better managed, at least not yet. NVFC has resources with “Share the Load” and their helpline that is routed to Master Degreed Councilors with advanced training in mental trauma that will answer the call. The phone number and program were set up for NVFC members but will assist anyone who calls. No one will be turned away. As a NVFC member, the entire family of a household can be included at no charge in their Share the Load Mental Health program which is often necessary for an optimum outcome. The phone number is essentially the program password for access, 800 ASK NVFC (800 275 6832). With the holidays having arrived and being some of the greatest stress on everyone plus the job that we do, I wanted to get this out there. There is help available, you do not have to go through this alone.

Thank you for your time and for allowing Rob and me to serve on your behalf with
the NVFC.