One of the fire services’ best assets on Capitol Hill is the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. First formed in 1987, the Fire Caucus was established to educate members of Congress about the fire and emergency services. A bipartisan group, the Fire Caucus works together to improve the readiness of local first responders and to jointly recognize their valor and dedication.
Today, the Fire Caucus is among the largest in Congress. It is not about ideology, but rather recognizing and supporting our nation’s first responders. It unites members of Congress to raise the level of awareness on Capitol Hill about the critical mission first responders perform to protect local communities. The Fire 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.
Ten years ago, 284 members of Congress served in the Congressional Fire Services Caucus; at the start of the 116th Congress, the number has decreased to 204. We need to reverse the trend. The 116th Congress introduced approximately 100 new members in the House and Senate. Many of them have not been exposed to the federal programs that benefit the nation’s fire and emergency services. By becoming members of the Fire Caucus, members of Congress can enhance their knowledge of the fire services and the federal programs and legislation that benefit our first responders.
It is imperative that every member of the nation’s fire service reach out to their members of Congress and urge them to not only join the Fire Caucus, but to become active members. There are several critical issues Congress will be considering in 2019 that benefit public safety. You can help us advance these issues by becoming engaged with your members of Congress and educating them about these issues.
Citizen engagement is a bedrock principle of our republic. It is essential that the fire service engage their members of Congress at the grassroots level. Every member of Congress has a firehouse in their district. Every member of Congress has firefighters who vote in their district. If the fire service is willing to make itself heard, it can continue to be a powerful force on Capitol Hill in the years to come.