Hello and Happy New Year from the Liston family.
As your President, I would like to start off by wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year for 2024. May this 2024 year be all you want it to be. It hardly seems possible that we should already be dating everything in 2024, but I guess the reality is that time just keeps moving along no matter what we have going on in our individual lives.
As we venture into the new year, I am reminded how precious life is and how thankful I am for my family, my fire family, my friends, and my neighbors that truly enjoy giving of themselves in providing helping hands to those in need. We need to remember those that may be experiencing the loss of a family member, co-worker, or friend. If you are struggling with an issue or loss do not be afraid to reach out and ask for assistance or help.
I encourage you to make a pledge to yourself, your family, your agency, and your community to make this year the best you can and set some goals you can work towards achieving.
Our Association is blessed to have to have so many talented professionals as members and although very few of us ever act with the desire to be singled out and awarded for what we do please review the different IVFA and IVFAA awards on the website and make a nomination before the February 1 deadline. All the information on the various awards and criteria is available on the website.
While you are reviewing those, you might also look at the available Bridgeport scholarship information and even if you do not need that educational financial assistance reach out to your fellow department members or a graduating high school student meeting the requirements and encourage them to apply. The Association gives out Four $1500 dollars scholarships annually at our State Convention in June. The deadline to submit the Bridgeport application and apply is March 1.
“CANCER” – The word that everyone hates to hear or see is again front and center of our fire service world. PFAS chemicals and our own protective equipment are the center of safety discussions. There is an apparent move nationwide to have manufacturers create better products for the health and safety of firefighters. The Indiana State Legislature passed a bill (HB 1341) during this last legislative session that provides after June 30, 2024, an Indiana fire department may not purchase firefighting gear unless it contains a permanently affixed label indicating whether or not the firefighting gear contains PFAS.
Remember, we can still all take the extra precautions by keeping our assigned PPE and equipment clean between incidents and try to reduce some of the risks and hazards we can control until the manufacturers and the industry get this figured out
In the meantime, make sure you are each getting regular cancer-related screenings and if you have not ever talked to your doctor about what you do, either as a career or volunteer firefighter, you need to have that discussion. In almost all cases early detection gives you the best survival odds.
If you ever have the opportunity to participate in any type of research or study as the scientific/medical world attempts to better understand our risks, please do so. The more information that can be gathered increase the odds we can find ways to reduce risks to not only our members but the future members of the fire service.
If you have not done so already please take the time to participate in the IVFA Cancer Survey with our partner, the National Institute for Public Safety Health (NIPSH), visit https://redcap.link/volunteerfire to complete the survey.
In 2019, the IVFA Board of Directors commissioned a study to determine the economic value that the Indiana volunteer fire service generated for Indiana taxpayers. While we all knew that value was significant, I do not think that many realized just how significant it was. At the time of the study, the Indiana volunteer fire service saved Indiana taxpayers 4.5 million dollars annually. We have shared this information with our members, local elected officials, and state legislators over the last 2 to 3 years and will continue to make our elected officials aware of this savings.
Recruitment and Retention is one of the most challenging issues facing volunteer fire departments these days. Recent NVFC data has shown us that the number of volunteer firefighters in the United States has decreased by over 150,000 between 1984 and 2018. During the same time, call volume has more than tripled. So, what can departments do to address the recruitment and retention issue that we are seeing in our State. How about starting a junior firefighter program for your department? These programs are an important source for recruiting the next generation of firefighters, and the benefits to both the department and the junior firefighters far outweigh the effort.
We as an association are currently in the process of creating a phone App for smartphones to reach our younger members and yes, even our older members adept with modern technology. We realize that the younger generation communicates in a totally unique way and the new App will allow us to use “push notifications” to reach these members. More information to follow as we finalize the App.
Speaking of communicating, if your department would like to communicate with us via e-mail, please give your district chairman a valid e-mail address that you or your department check regularly. We struggle as an association to get information out to our departments and members in a timely manner.
The State of Indiana Training Academy is offering Indiana fire departments and firefighters the ability to download all available IFSTA Training Books at no cost to the department or firefighter. Go to the IDHS website for more information. Indiana is the second state to make this available to its fire departments and firefighters, Kentucky was the first.
This year we will be honoring Seventy-nine (79) of our members for Fifty (50) years of service. All honorees will be sent a letter in the coming weeks inviting them and their families to the Indiana Statehouse for a special recognition event. Once the date is confirmed and finalized the letters will be sent to the members.
Convention 2024 will be in Indianapolis at the Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel. The dates are June 13, 14 and 15. Please note the days are Thursday thru Saturday this year. This is a change from years past. The hope is the change will allow more of our members to attend the 2024 convention.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge PRNE Jean Smith and PREC Jeff Biehl for their service to our association over the last several years. Both Jean and Jeff will be stepping down from their PR Director positions at the start of 2024. I thank both Jean and Jeff for your service and wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors.
In closing, let us all strive to do what we can to make 2024 the best year yet, grow our membership, and above all keep each other and those we serve safe! If any officer or I can be of assistance please reach out, our contact information can be found on the IVFA website or in the IVFA newspaper, we are here to serve you-the members.
Finally, I would like to leave you with this quote from Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi: “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect”. When your department or you train in the future, make the most of your time and train like your life depends on it!
Thank you for doing what you do every day for your department and community and the State of Indiana. Serve Proudly. Be Safe. I hope to see you at a future IVFA event or a department function.