Click HERE to register for the 2019 Hill Day
The Hill Day event is important for FAMA and FEMSA to show support for programs which help first responders. It gives them the opportunity to encourage congressional officers to increase funding for the Assistance to Fire-fighters. For the Governmental Affairs Committee it is important to be aware of changes and create relationships within the fire industry.
2019 FAMA/FEMSA GAC Hill Day, April 24-25, 2018 (Washington, DC)
(plan to arrive Tuesday, April 23rd – depart Friday, April 26th)
FAMA/FEMSA Hill Day will be held in conjunction with the CFSI 31st Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner
Click here for the Preliminary Agenda.
2018 FAMA/FEMSA GAC Hill Day
The Drumbeat of Hill Day
By Dave Gatton
They say “repetition is the essence of education.” When it comes to the impact of our FAMA/FEMSA Hill Days, nothing could be truer.
Hill Day 2018 was again a whirlwind, as 45 FAMA/FEMSA participants fanned across Capitol Hill to meet with 115 Congressional offices over a 24-hour period. Few organizations achieve that level of coverage in such a short time period, and it’s all due to the devoted members of FAMA and FEMSA who take the time out of their busy schedules to “blitz” the Hill with such an effective message: We are the North American industry that helps first responders save lives.
Our first objective was to thank members of Congress for their support of the reauthorization of the USFA, AFG and SAFER programs. Passage of the legislation, which extends these programs through FY 2023, was a nail biter, clearing the Senate after passage in the House in the very last hour of the last day of the first session of the 115th Congress. Without passage, the AFG and SAFER programs would have died, subject to a sunset provision placed in the previous reauthorization.
The bill sailed through on the Unanimous Consent calendar in both chambers, which is nerve wracking in itself. Only one member had to object in order to defeat the bill! But no one did. Unanimity is tough under any circumstance, but in this Congress? In this political climate? It is a testament to the fire service organizations, led by CFSI and including FAMA and FEMSA, that members from both sides of the aisle support these first responder programs, and did so unanimously.
But this support didn’t just happen – nor will it automatically happen in the future. By holding our Hill Days for the last 14 years, beginning with our first “Night With Congress” in 2004, we have built up a reservoir of support from a core set of bi-partisan members of Congress. We have continually educated new members and new staff over those 14 years as they have entered Congress. All this repetition, all this going up and explaining who we are year after year paid off. We didn’t get lucky. We made our luck by showing up continuously and driving our message home that the AFG and SAFER programs, in addition to helping first responders, also help U.S. businesses and the communities in which they are located.
Fortuitously, the Congress passed its omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2018 weeks before we arrived for Hill Day, funding the AFG and SAFER programs at $350 million each, a $5 million plus-up over FY 2017. This is modest progress, but progress nonetheless. For FY 2019, our Hill Day message is to fund each program at the $405 million, their FY 2011 level. The fact that we are working our way back to the level of funding in 2011 shows how difficult the federal budgetary environment is and how unique it is to receive any increase in these times.
I have been in this town over 35 years, and during that time I have not seen a more effective, bi-partisan coalition than the Fire Service. Your work and devotion to Hill Days make a difference, and they will continue to make a difference for our nation’s first responders.
Remember, the drumbeat must continue. It is absolutely worthwhile. We just proved it.
Special Note: To culminate our 2018 Hill Day, it was refreshing to see our new Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen address the 30th annual Fire Dinner on the evening of April 19th to praise the work of the nation’s first responders. She was followed by Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who was equal in his praise, and who always acknowledges Curt Weldon, his former Republican colleague, for his leadership in establishing the Congressional Fire Caucus. This was a fitting expression of bi-partisanship in a town that desperately needs it.
Success is a Team Effort
On behalf of FEMSA and FAMA member companies, we acknowledge the outstanding contributions of several individuals and organizations whose leadership has paved the way for the recent reauthorization, AFG and SAFER successes. Please join us in thanking CFSI Bill Webb and Sean Carroll; our GAC John Granby, Lee Morris and advisory team Dave Gatton, Joni Goodman, James Kirby, Jillian McNamara; and, all other organizations that together comprise the Fire Service Coalition.
The FEMSA and FAMA Boards of Directors
CFSI Engages Future Leaders at 30TH Annual National Fire and Emergency Service Program
By Bill Webb
The Congressional Fire Services Institute hosted the National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner in Washington, DC, on April 18 and 19. The event provided an opportunity for fire service leaders to engage in discussions with their members of Congress and federal agency officials about federal programs and legislation, and also offered a series of seminars on current national fire service issues.
The theme of this year’s program was “Engaging Future Leaders.” CFSI placed heavy emphasis on attracting new attendees, primarily rising leaders who are expressing an interest in advocacy work. Over 25 “future leaders” registered for the program, some of whom were sponsored by fire organizations, including the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, ISO and Lion.
CFSI conducted seminars designed specifically for this group. A Town Hall session provided a forum for future leaders to discuss the benefits they have derived through their active involvement in their fire departments or associations. A second session was conducted by a panel of veteran advocates, including former FEMA Director Dave Paulison. They directed their message on advocacy work, describing why the fire service needs a new generation of advocates to step forward and become engaged. CFSI also conducted 11 other seminars that covered a broad range of national fire service issues. Attendees were eligible for continuing education units (CEUs) from Columbia Southern University in most of the seminars.
Following the 2017 program, CFSI conducted a survey and convened a task group to seek ideas for enhancing the two-day event. The biggest changes were noticed in the dinner program, including more music. The sounds of bagpipes greeted guests as they entered the ballroom. Patriotic music performed by a young opera singer brought dinner guests to their feet. And while dinner was being served, country music singer Tony Jackson entertained guests with some of his hits.
Another noticeable difference in the program was the introduction of videos during award presentations. The videos captured the true measures of the recipients’ achievements as described by the recipients and their peers.
Award recipients included:
- Steve Austin and Tony O’Neill – recipients of the CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award
- International Society of Fire Service Instructors and the UL Firefighter Safety Research Institute – recipients of the CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award
- Mike Weller – recipient of the CFSI/IFSTA Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety Education
- Alpena (MI) Fire Department and the Illini Emergency Medical Service/Illinois Fire Service Institute – recipients of the CFSI/Masimo Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award
Please visit CFSI’s Facebook page to view the videos. You’ll quickly understand why these individuals and organizations were honored.
The Honorable Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, delivered the keynote address. She spoke of the challenges that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confronts in protecting our homeland, and she praised the fire service for always being ready to keep our communities safe. She was followed by Congressman Steny Hoyer (MD-5), Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, one of our strongest voices on Capitol Hill. The program covered a lot of ground, but it was entertaining and educational, with plenty of time left in the evening for dinner guests to attend receptions afterwards.
CFSI appreciates the support of FEMSA and FAMA. Both organizations, through their Governmental Affairs Committee, continue to provide an important role in Washington, DC helping members of Congress understand the benefits of the equipment, apparatus and training provided to the fire service by FEMSA and FAMA member companies.
I look forward to attending your joint conference in Austin. Stay safe and I’ll see you in September.
2017 – The Pivotal Year
By Dave Gatton
I doubt if the Fire Service has faced such a pivotal year as the one we have entered. Our two stalwart programs, the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program (AFG) and the SAFER (hiring) program are both up for reauthorization in 2017. If Congress fails to authorize the programs again, they will expire in January of 2018. Hundreds of local fire and rescue departments that depend on AFG and SAFER to fill critical equipment and staffing gaps would find that the federal government had abandoned them, even though these very departments form the first line of responders in our nation’s National Response Plan.
Whether it’s a major weather event, a terrorist act, a hazardous spill, or other catastrophes, it is our local fire and rescue departments that are on the scene for the first 72 hours, and then remain there throughout the response. This critical role fulfills a federal and national need to protect the public from forces foreign and domestic. For this reason alone, Congress should reauthorize the AFG and SAFER programs with full bi-partisan support.
2017 – Hill Day
FAMA and FEMSA members understand the importance of Congressional action this year. Fifty-two members convened in Washington DC, April 5-6, for our 2017 Hill Day, where 11 FAMA and FEMSA teams met with 117 Congressional offices to promote reauthorization and encourage funding the programs at $405 million each for FY 2017 and FY 2018.
These teams met with the decision makers, including members and staff of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, the Senate Government Affairs and Homeland Security Committees, and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee which have jurisdiction over the reauthorization. These meetings were substantive and timely. Only FAMA and FEMSA members can uniquely articulate the manufacturing and economic benefits of the two
programs, along with their fire, rescue and response rationale.
During the first day of Hill Day, Senators McCain (AZ), Tester (MT), Carper (DE) and Collins (ME), all senior senators, introduced S. 829 which reauthorizes AFG and SAFER. The bill is a straightforward reauthorization which keeps the essential structure of the existing programs, minus the sunset provision. Many thanks to the Congressional Fire Services Institute for their leadership in the introduction of S. 829. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee is expected to hold hearings soon on their reauthorization package.
All told, it will be our responsibility, along with all the other Fire Coalition members, to push Congress to act this year. This means now is the time to arrange for your Congressional delegation to visit your facility this summer, so they can witness first-hand the economic and jobs impact of our industry on communities all across the U.S.
We are the industry that helps first responders save lives; we simply now must do all we can to make sure they have the tools they need to do their jobs.
CFSI Fire Dinner – Forging New Relationships
By Bill Webb
On April 5th and 6th, fire service leaders from across the country were in Washington, DC to attend the National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program. Hosted by the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the event provided a unique opportunity for fire service leaders – including over 60 FEMSA and FAMA members – to interact with federal legislators and federal agency officials on a broad range of issues impacting our nation’s fire service and the fire service industry.
The issue first and foremost on the minds of the 1,500 attendees is the reauthorization of the Assistance to Firefighters and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant programs. Senator John McCain, an original Co-Chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, introduced reauthorization legislation on April 5th which was co-sponsored by the three other Fire Caucus Co-Chairs: Senator Susan Collins (ME), Senator Tom Carper (DE) and Senator Jon Tester (MT). During the two-day program, fire service officials were omnipresent on Capitol Hill, attending meetings with their members of Congress to express support for the reauthorization of the two grant programs.
“Many FEMSA and FAMA members have often heard me use the quote from former House Speaker Tip O’Neill that ‘All politics is local,’” said CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb. “That is why it was critical to have a large presence of fire service officials on Capitol Hill during our event conducting meetings with their elected representatives. FEMSA and FAMA have such an important message to share with Congress about these two programs – how they provide jobs for businesses that strengthen our local economies. We thank FEMSA and FAMA members for sharing that message with their representatives. It will make a difference.”
On the evening of April 6th, everyone gathered together in the ballroom of the historic Washington Hilton for the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner. Three Co-Chairs of the Fire Caucus – Senator Collins, Senator Carper, and Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09) – were the featured speakers, delivering important messages to the audience about engaging in the legislative process.
The program also featured four award presentations. Jim Dalton, a 50-year veteran of the fire service and former government affairs director of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, was the recipient of the CFSI/Motorola Solutions Mason Lankford Fire Service Leadership Award. The International Fire Service Training Association received the CFSI/NFFF Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The CFSI/Masimo Excellence in Fire Service-Based EMS Award recognized the Orange County (FL) Fire Rescue Department and the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. And the final award presentation, the CFSI/IFSTA Dr. Anne W. Phillips Award for Leadership in Fire Safety, recognized Marsha Giesler of the Downers Grove (IL) Fire Department.
Plans are already in the works for the 30th Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Symposium and Dinner Program which takes place on April 18-19, 2018. CFSI is offering a number of sponsorship and branding opportunities for companies seeking to elevate their presence at the event. Please contact CFSI at 202-371-1277 for details.
Hill Day Resources
2018 Key Messages / Fire Grant Reauthorization Documents
2017 Key Messages / Fire Grant Reauthorization Documents
2016 Key Messages / Fire Grant Reauthorization Documents
Dave Gatton – firstname.lastname@example.org