The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) extends its thanks and appreciation to the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association (DVFA) for its tremendous support of the 29th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program. On April 5 and 6, 2017, over 1500 state and national leaders of the fire and

emergency services gathered together in Washington, DC, for this annual program that provides opportunities for fire service leaders to engage members of Congress and their peers in discussions about federal legislation and programs impacting our nation’s first responders.

The theme of the program was “Forging New Relationships.” Few organizations understand the importance of forging relationships with their government leaders as DVFA. For two days, fire service leaders attended seminars and met with their members of Congress. The salient issue of many discussions was

the reauthorization of the Assistance to Firefighters, and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs. Senator John McCain, a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, introduced reauthorization legislation on April 5. His three fellow co-chairs in the Senate — Senators Tom Carper (DE), Susan Collins (ME) and Jon Tester (MT) — signed-on as original co-sponsors. Passage of the legislation is imperative to ensure that the federal government continues providing support to the fire service through these two grant programs.

On the evening of April 6, everyone gathered together in the ballroom of the historic Washington Hilton for the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner. Three co-Chairs of the Fire Caucus — Senators Carper and Collins and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) — were the featured speakers, delivering important messages to audience about engaging in the legislative process.

The program also featured four award presentations. Jim Dalton, a 50-year veteran of the fire service and former government affairs director of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, was the recipient of the CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award. The International Fire Service Training Association received the CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The CFSI/Masimo Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award recognized the Orange County (FL) Fire Rescue Department and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. And the final award presentation, the CFSI/IFSTA Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety recognized Marsha Giesler of the Downers Grove (IL) Fire Department. Lou Amabili, who served with Dr. Phillips on the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, once again participated in the award presentation.

“CFSI takes great pride in hosting the annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program,” said CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the members of the Delaware volunteer fire service for their

continued support of this program. We face a challenging year in Washington, with a new administration and so many new members of Congress. DVFA’s support will enable the CFSI staff to further its mission of educating members of Congress about the fire and

emergency services.”

In his closing remarks at the dinner, Webb stressed the need to recruit the next generation of fire service leaders to attend the program. “Eventually, the likes of Steve Austin, Tony O’Neill, Jim Cubbage, Sara Yerkes, Red Flegal, Mike Rush and Bill Kehoe will see their streak of attending every dinner program come to an end — but God willing, not for a long time. For this organization to continue in its mission, we need to find the next generation of leaders and get them involved. Together, let’s find a way to make this happen.”

CFSI looks forward to hosting the 30th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program on April 17-18, 2018. The good Lord willing, I hope all our friends and supporters from Delaware — including the future leaders we need to start grooming — will be able to join us.