One aspect of my job that I enjoy most is traveling to fire service events and having the opportunity to address audiences who are interested in learning about the work being performed by CFSI and the other national organizations on Capitol Hill. It doesn’t matter to me if I have two people in the audience or two hundred. I always look forward to sharing with them CFSI’s efforts to advocate for federal programs and legislation that address the needs and challenges of our one million firefighters and emergency services personnel.
Registration is now open for the 30th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner, hosted by the Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) on April 18-19, 2018 in Washington, DC. Attended by approximately 1,500 fire and emergency services leaders from across the country, the event is the largest and most prestigious gathering of fire service officials, featuring important seminars and opportunities for interaction with federal policy makers.
Now you can make a positive difference for CFSI by becoming a sponsor of the National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner. Each year, we offer a number of sponsorship opportunities. Ranging in values, they offer a number of unique benefits that will capture the attention of our 1,500 guests. Take a look at the complete list of sponsorship opportunities we are now offering for our 2018 program and let us know which appeals to you. If you have questions, do not hesitate to give us a call at 202-371-1277.
The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) is now accepting nominations for the CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award and the CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The deadline for submissions is December 7, 2017.
(July 24, 2017) – The Congressional Fire Services Institute has recently released a white paper that will be distributed to members of Congress and federal agency officials. The title of the paper is “Understanding the Roles, Challenges, and Needs of Our Nation’s Fire and Emergency Services”. Thirty-five member organizations of the CFSI National Advisory Committee (NAC) co-signed the paper developed by the CFSI staff and task group comprised of NAC members.
“This document contains important information that we want to share with members of Congress,” said CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb. “It is intended to educate them about the challenges facing the fire service in protecting our communities and convey the importance of continued federal support for our local fire and emergency services departments.”
The White Paper is available on CFSI’s website. Fire officials are encouraged to share it with their elected officials when discussing both local and national issues impacting the fire service. By design, the document is brief, focusing on general information about the fire and emergency services.
Established in 1989, CFSI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute. Its primary mission is to share information with members of Congress about the challenges and needs of our nation’s fire and emergency services to help them understand how certain programs and legislation can benefit our first responders. The National Advisory Committee is comprised of a broad range of national fire and emergency services organizations. Convening semi-annually, committee members discuss and develop consensus positions on federal issues that CFSI shares with members of Congress.
A privately-funded organization, CFSI is the host of the annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program that takes place each year in Washington, DC. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of the event. Approximately 1,500 fire service leaders from across the country will assemble for the two-day event on April 18 – 19, 2018. Additional details about the program will be available later in the year.
(June 30, 2017) – On Thursday, June 29th, the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee unanimously approved H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. The legislation, introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9), directs the Center for Disease Control to create a specialized national registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources they need to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among firefighters.
Studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk of several major cancers, including colon, lung, melanoma, mesothelioma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate, rectal, testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancer. The heightened risk of cancer among firefighters has been attributed to their frequent exposure to a range of harmful toxins.
Unfortunately, studies examining cancer risks among firefighters have been limited by the availability of important data and relatively small sample sizes that have an underrepresentation of women, minorities, and volunteer firefighters. As a result, public health researchers have been unable to fully examine and understand the broader epidemiological cancer trends among firefighters. A specialized national cancer registry would expand access to vital epidemiological data and improve research outcomes.
H.R. 931 will now go before the full House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.
(June 9, 2017) – On Wednesday, June 7th, the BuildStrong Coalition hosted the National Thoughts Leaders Forum on Disaster Mitigation Resiliency for a Stronger and Safer America. The forum, featuring members of Congress, fire service leaders, code and standard organizations, and representatives of the construction and insurance industries, examined the impact strong building codes can have in saving lives and taxpayer dollars and explored incentives for strengthening buildings and mitigating damage from natural disasters.
Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11), Congressman Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), and Senator Ron Johnson (WI) addressed the forum. The members of Congress largely focused their comments on the need to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster assistance programs to better protect the public while simultaneously safeguarding taxpayer dollars.
The Forum also featured a Stakeholder Roundtable, which included subject matter experts from a variety of fields, including the fire and emergency services. Members of the roundtable emphasized the need for federal incentives to encourage state and local governments to adopt model building codes. Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, participated in the roundtable discussion.
“Studies, research and real-life events make a compelling case for greater adoption and enforcement of nationally recognized building codes,” said Mr. Webb. “Providing incentives to encourage more states to adopt these codes, as part of a national mitigation strategy, will reduce the cost of natural disasters for government at the local, state and federal levels and greatly reduce the risk of death and injuries to citizens caught in pathway of these disasters and the first responders who put their lives on the line to save others.”
CFSI has been a member of the BuildStrong Coalition since 2011 and continues to advocate for the adoption of strong building codes at the federal, state and local levels.
(May 18, 2017) – On Wednesday, May 17th, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health held a hearing titled “Examining Initiatives to Advance Public Health.” The hearing addressed several current pieces of legislation before the committee, including H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.
H.R. 931, introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27), directs the Center for Disease Control to create a specialized national registry to provide researchers and epidemiologists with the tools and resources they need to improve research collection activities related to the monitoring of cancer incidence among firefighters. Kevin O’Connor, Assistant to the General President for Governmental Affairs and Public Policy at the International Association of Fire Fighters, testified in favor of the bill.
“Our nation is served by approximately one million professional and volunteer fire fighters who respond to nearly 35 million calls for assistance each year. Statistics maintained by the National Fire Protection Association indicate that there are approximately two million fires or hazardous materials incidents annually, routinely placing fire fighters in environments where they will be exposed to carcinogens and toxic chemicals,” Mr. O’Connor stated in his testimony. He went on further to say that the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act “will lead to a preeminent centralized data collection point that will aid in studies that we expect to result in better prevention and treatment measures for fire fighters.”
Senator Robert Menendez (NJ) introduced companion legislation, S. 382, in the Senate on February 15, 2017.
(May 18, 2017) – This week, Congress passed legislation designed to improve the timeliness and transparency in the Justice Department’s processing of the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program survivor, disability, and educational assistance claims. S. 419, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act, was introduced by Senator Charles Grassley (IA) on February 16, 2017. The bill will address on-going problems with the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program.
The legislation allows the PSOB office to issue rules, regulations and procedures that are based on standards developed by other federal agencies dealing with death or disability claims of public safety officers. This is in direct response to the Department of Justice’s delay in adopting the World Trade Center Health Program and Victims’ Compensation Fund findings associated with 9/11-related claims. Additionally, the legislation restores the “substantial weight” standard that requires the PSOB office to give substantial weight to the findings of federal, state, and local agencies as to the cause of the public safety officer’s death or disability prior to the rewrite of regulations in 2005. The bill also requires the PSOB office to post a public weekly status report on claims and to make a detailed biannual report to Congress.
S. 419 was approved unanimously by the Senate on Tuesday, May 16th. The House unanimously approved the bill the following day. The legislation will now go to the White House for the President’s signature.
(May 18, 2017) – On Friday, May 12th, approximately 20 staff members from the House and Senate participated in a ride-along with the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department. This was a unique opportunity for Congressional staff to witness firsthand the daily operations of firehouses in our nation’s capital as they accompanied firefighters to actual emergencies and observed their actions.
“We extend our appreciation to Chief Gregory Dean and the men and women of the DC Fire and EMS Department for sponsoring this important educational opportunity for Congressional staff,” said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “There are few better ways for Congressional staff to learn about the challenges our firefighters face than by spending a night at the firehouse and seeing firsthand what our frontline responders face every day.”
CFSI’s mission is to educate Congress about the needs and challenges of our nation’s fire and emergency services. Partnering with local fire departments, like the DC Fire and EMS Department, is a critical component in delivering that message.