By President David Lynam
Why IFMA ?....... Why me?
My association with IFMA, and specifically my position as the President of the association has provided a lot of opportunities that I would not otherwise enjoy. One of those opportunities is to visit NFPA headquarters in Quincy where your board meets annually to conduct business and receive updates on NFPA’s latest and greatest projects and efforts. One of the greatest enjoyments I have as president is to meet with Jim Pauley in Quincy during the board meeting for a little on-on-one discussion about how IFMA and the NFPA can continue to support each other in the things that matter most to our members. Jim is a great conversationalist and in the course of our business discussion we spent some time talking about why people do what they do – what drives them to choose a specific line of work, join an organization, make a donation or spend a lifetime in pursuit of something. Kind of heavy stuff for a beautiful September afternoon – but a discussion at the root of why IFMA matters to each of us. Jim and I both agreed that one of the things that drives people to do what they do is the knowledge that the work they do is worth doing.
IFMA has been a leader in fire prevention and hazard mitigation since 1906. Our more than 1,000 members in twenty different countries serve on sixty some technical committees to assure that our codes and standards are the most current, relative and effective documents available. Our efforts involve the things that matter most in our communities - the places where people we know live work and play. Some of these things are pretty common and often simple like codes and safety measures for the food trucks we enjoy for a quick bite. Others include developing technologies for tall wood buildings to assure their safety while meeting the need for the use of renewable building products. Sometimes we are involved in tackling issues that we wish we didn’t have to be involved in. NFPA 3000, the Active Shooter / Hostile Event Response Program is unfortunately a necessity that will save lives but something that requires us to join arms with other responders to protect our communities when it really matters. IFMA is us – you, me and people like us. We do good work. Hard work. Work worth doing in our communities for today and tomorrow.
But what do we personally get out of “being” IFMA. It’s certainly not the pay (we are all volunteers). It’s not the cool certificate – I have lots of certificates. Must be something more. NFPA is doing some extremely valuable and hard work within its organization. They recently rolled out a concept detailing how governments, skilled workforces, the public, enforcers, responders (and others) are interconnected in a series of cogs that drive the Fire and Life Safety Ecosystem. Each cog drives and supports the other cogs and the whole system can’t work when one of the cogs is missing. We as individual players in IFMA are connected to many other cogs in this system, a great concept that is changing the world and the way we address fire safety and hazard mitigation. I am reminded of Leroy Hood who started his career in biology decades ago creating scientific instruments that eventually made DNA sequencing possible, real world changing contributions. It was hard work and towards the end of his career Leroy offered that “Changing the world is not easy, but its pursuit will change you profoundly.” I agree. Maybe our connection with IFMA is all about us after all. I would like to thank each and everyone one of you for being part of something bigger for the benefit of everyone, regardless of why you do it.