President’s Remarks – January 2024

Starting the Year Off Right

It is hard to believe that we are already well into the start of 2024. The uncertainty of what the coming year may bring at many levels is always present and even more so for those of us in the emergency services as we never really know what is coming with the next call. To counter some of the potential negative outcomes we may face I encourage each of you to seek out training and continue to hon your skills and provide the best service possible to the members of your community, but what is often quoted from an unknown source may be the most important, “train like your life depends on it, because it does.”

As we leap headlong into the New Year let’s all spend a little extra time paying attention to our individual health and the overall health of Missouri’s fire service. It should not come as a surprise that our individual health affects the outcome of the services we provide. If we cannot perform due to our health or fitness there could conceivably end up being no one to perform this job.

Is there an ideal appearance for a firefighter? Some people would argue that you have to be a certain height with a certain body mass and various other “perfect specimen” features. Let’s face reality here folks, there are some in the fire service that may meet all of those perceived “perfect” attributions, but that is not the majority. 

Do I think being physically fit is important? Absolutely. Being physically (and mentally) fit comes in varying forms based on many factors, some of which we have direct control over and some we do not. The important part of being physically fit in this application would be more focused on being able to perform the various aspects of the job without having medical complications or putting yourself or others at risk from your inability to perform. So even if you are not a chiseled “gym rat” (no offense intended) make sure you can do what you might be assigned and that you do not put yourself or others in harm’s way.

Information recently shared at a multi-state meeting of state fire associations indicates that Missouri is not alone in the decline in the number of fire service personnel. This is not only evidenced in the daily business of departments but is reflected in attendance at state conventions and business meetings. Of the states represented at the last FFAM Convention/Annual Meeting, we are not the record holder for the lowest attendance, but we were certainly near the lower end of the list. Moving forward I challenge each of you to become more involved in your state organization including the convention and annual meeting. Let’s live up to our Show-Me State moniker and “show” the others how much we can grow.

Speaking of the 2024 Convention and the Annual Meeting, I hope you have already reserved the dates of May 17-19 so you can attend. The final details are still being planned out, but the event will be held at Lake of the Ozarks. Keep an eye on the website and Facebook to get the latest updates. We hope to see each of you this year. Let’s set a record for the highest attendance instead of nearly the lowest.

By the time you are reading this, if your agency has not registered with the Division of Fire Safety, you are late! The registration is required by Missouri statute and is not that hard to complete. You can access the process through the Division’s website. Registration numbers have risen over the last few years, but somewhat amazingly we are not at 100%. It is required, so why aren’t we completing this simple task? For those of you who may want to apply for various financial grants with any tie to government money (AFG, SAFER, ARPA, etc.) being registered is a requirement to even make the first round of qualifying. 

Log on now and get the registration completed. If you have questions or problems contact the Division office and I am sure they would be more than happy to assist you.

Some of you may recall the fire service was successful in securing additional funding from the legislators for firefighter training. What a boost for us to be able to get affordable or have no-cost training available to every department in the state. The only real catch there is to do this is you must request the training. 

It is extremely important that we show our gratitude for the additional funding by taking part in the training and using the funds being provided. A successful campaign was launched showing the need was present, now it is up to us to show we were correct. There is a wide range of training available from the basics with the Introduction to the Fire Service program through advanced levels of training on various topics. 

If you can think it up there is likely a class or it will provide ideas for future topics that may need to be developed.

Scholarship applications and award nominations are both due February 28 so don’t delay getting those submitted. All the information needed is on the FFAM website under the respective committee heading.

As we move through the coming months that before we know it will turn into last year please be safe, serve your community proudly, and continue to make the Missouri fire service one of the best in the nation. If the Board of Directors or I can be of any assistance please contact us.