“The public needs and relies on all of you and your departments to be there for them every single day – no matter what the emergency is or what new threats occur,” NFPA President and CEO Jim Pauley said at the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Fall Board Meeting in Nebraska today.
Pauley explained that to reduce loss from fire in society it will take a full fire prevention and protection ecosystem that is either intentionally or unintentionally broken. The public, however, believes such a system exists and relies on it. “We are letting them down. We can do better."
NFPA’s leader pointed to the Ghostship tragedy in Oakland, Grenfell fire in London and fires happening across the country in buildings under construction. “NFPA, the NVFC, the fire service, enforcers, legislators and local leaders – all need to connect the dots on fire safety.” He encouraged attendees to inform community members and local officials about what fire departments do, tell them which resources are lacking, and emphasize the improvements needed to ensure that fire departments are providing optimal fire safety.
Pauley applauded the proactive steps that NVFC is taking to champion firefighter health and safety via creative cancer and contamination videos, a Firefighter Strong newsletter, and a diet study with Harvard’s School of Public Health. He acknowledged the recruiting issues, staffing shortages, shrinking budgets and uphill municipal battles that many volunteer fire departments deal with. “We know that it is not an exaggeration to say that you are struggling to keep the lights on, to fill your ranks, to equip your firefighters, and to engage others in what you do – let alone to address today’s new hazards.”
NFPA supports the fire service on many levels – codes, training, public education, data, research and enforcement. Programs and initiatives that resonate with the volunteer and rural fire communities include Firewise USA, the Rural Fire Symposium, the Rural Firefighters Connection group on NFPA’s Xchange, and new disaster resources. In October, a new podcast series entitled, “The Survivors” that profiles a volunteer firefighter and the devastating impact of fire will also debut.
As he wrapped up his remarks today, Pauley said, “Each of us in this room is responsible for making our communities safer from fire. It’s an awesome responsibility that I know you take seriously.”