by Robert Morris, Executive Director, IFIA
At the end of last year we sworn in our new officers. They are Ed Dunne, Evergreen Park, as President; Dan Riordan, Tinley Park, as Vice President; John Janozik, Oak Forest, as Treasurer; and Bill Schmidt, Streamwood, as Secretary.
We just wrapped up our annual conference. We had close to 120 people registered for this year’s conference; the largest number in many years. We could not have kicked off the event better than by having Tim Sandelbach, editor of Firehouse Magazine, as our key note speaker for the morning.
There were many breakout sessions for code enforcers and fire and life safety educators. Each group of people gave rave reviews to the many speakers who helped make this possible. We had two PhDs present this year, as well as speakers from across the county. We are now actively seeking presenters for the 2018 conference.
New this year, which was a success by any measure, was a class by NFPA on teaching strategies. Almost 50 people attended this free session. Based on history, we new many people would arrive the day prior to the conference, so we scheduled a free education event for those that choose to arrive early, in recognition that the IFIA has been serving fire departments since 1967.
Mike Toika, our Legislative Representative, he has been very busy watching two bills that the IFIA is extremely interested in. One has to do with licensing fire alarm contractors at the various level of work that they perform – install, design, inspect, etc. The other has to do with making it a felony for a building owner to cause serious injury or death to a firefighter due to flagrant building violations which they refuse to correct.
We have been advised that the Rules process at the Office of the State Fire Marshal have approved the requirement for continuing education hours for certification as a Fire Inspector. The certificate will be good for four years. Most of all State certifications are going to require this, and it will follow a model used successfully by the fire investigators for several years.
We, along with the Illinois Fire Chiefs, recently co-sponsored a day-long workshop from Vision 20/20 on Community Risk Reduction. Jim Crawford was the main presenter to an audience of over 100 people, many of whom were fire chiefs.
We continue to support fire sprinkler industry by attending a reception for legislators in Springfield in February. The next morning we participated in a meeting with the State Fire Marshal’s office on the fire sprinkler licensing act. They are working with various stakeholders to clean up licensing of sprinkler contractors.
There are two unique events coming up that we will be hosting. The first is at the end of April. The topic will be on In-Building Public Safety Communications, which will address the problems of communications in some of the larger buildings being constructed. Presenting will be Ret. Chief Alan Perdue, Executive Director-Safer Buildings Coalition. The following week we will be having a full day seminar on outdoor events, with an emphasis on tent safety. Unfortunately, last summer a storm came through and a tent collapsed in west suburban Chicago killing one person, and injuring many others, so the timeliness of the seminar to help prevent similar incidents is great.