By Dr. Bill Jenaway, Ph.D. Executive Vice President Education, Training & Consulting
On April 5 and 6, 2017, the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) will host the 29th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner at the historic Washington Hilton in Washington, DC. CFSI is a privately funded nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute designed to educate members of Congress about the challenges and needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services. The National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner is the Institute’s major fundraising program of the year. CFSI depends on the support generated from this event to maintain an active presence on Capitol Hill and within the fire and emergency services community.
2017 will present many new opportunities for the nation’s fire service on Capitol Hill. Not only will a new president occupy the White House but new members of Congress will enter office as well. These members will find themselves confronted with a wide variety of issues demanding their attention, including fire service issues. The primary legislative concern is the reauthorization of the Assistance to Firefighters (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs. The current authorization for these critical programs contains a sunset provision. These two programs will terminate if Congress fails to reauthorize them before January 2, 2018.
CFSI’s two-day program will provide opportunities for fire service leaders to meet with members of Congress to discuss legislative priorities, including AFG and SAFER. This interaction is imperative to generate bipartisan support for the reauthorization of the AFG and SAFER.
A large presence of fire service officials in Washington, DC, engaging their elected representatives in discussions about these programs, cannot be understated. To prevail in convincing Congress to reauthorize these programs, the fire service must make its voice heard on Capitol Hill.
The fire service has achieved a number of legislative victories throughout the years due, in part, to the efforts of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. Established in 1987, the Fire Caucus was designed to educate members of Congress about the fire and emergency services. The Caucus is not about ideology, but rather recognizing and supporting our nation’s first responders. The Caucus raises the level of awareness on Capitol Hill about the critical mission first responders fulfill to protect local communities. Serving as a forum for education and discussion on a broad range of issues, the Caucus helps members understand how certain pieces of legislation can advance the readiness and response capabilities of our nation’s first responders to all hazards. Sustaining Congress’s interest on our issues requires the fire service to recruit new members to serve on the Caucus. This is another reason why fire service leaders should attend CFSI’s program.
Please consider attending the 29th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner on April 5 and 6, 2017, and making your voice heard. Together we can ensure the AFG and SAFER grant programs will be secured for the future and the Congressional Fire Services Caucus will continue to be an influential voice in Congress.