Plans were put into place with an approved budget in 2016 to attend the Spring Meeting of the National Volunteer Fire Council in Washington, DC, April 6-8. This included a day on Capital Hill on April 5. This was a six day commitment with travel but planned to be completed. In week six leading up to finalizing all plans and reservations it became clear that Washington could be totally occupied with affordable care, hacking, finalizing appointments, immigration, and global relationships. We held off until week four and a firm deadline of proceeding with or cancelling the trip. A key focus was to spend a day on the hill plus the NVFC meeting. On conferring with President Hoover I expressed my concern that access to key congressional staff could be very limited if not at all. An office aid versus a government affairs staffer would likely be my only available contact and depending on the day, I could be left talking only with the receptionist? I had also just discovered no rooms were left within the NVFC rate block of $265 and the host hotel was full. The next option was another hotel one mile away at $350 per night plus 16% tax. President Hoover and I agreed to cancel the trip due to probable lack of impactful access and conversation with the congressional offices at this time. The added hotel cost was not in budget either and sealed the decision.
We will try again next year providing we have a good chance of impactful access and at least conversation potential with a government affairs staffer. The NVFC fall meeting for 2017 is the last week of September and being hosted by Nebraska in Kearney. At this time Greg and I are planning to attend this meeting.
General news from NVFC is firefighter cancer with a heavy emphasis on early health screenings, training for prevention and awareness, grants for extractor laundry equipment to wash gear and new gear, preparation for the National Cancer Symposium in early September, AFG, SAFER, and special project grants which NVFC execute and manage. Chairman Quinn has been active with the flagship programs of the NVFC such as Heart Healthy, BEST Practices, Fire Corps, National Junior Firefighter, Serve Strong, Find the Fighter in YOU (recruiting), and Sharing the Load (mental/physical health assistance). He is also getting word out how an invitation extended to him by another board member to travel out of state nearly a year ago, to attend a department health screen identified an issue and likely saved his life.
I recently completed my basic health screening and specifically asked for a cancer screening based on my history as a firefighter. For the active and retired volunteers reading this article, be sure your doctor is made aware that you are, or have been a firefighter. Career and volunteer firefighters are both asked the same question, “What is your occupation?” Career folks will say, “firefighter.” Volunteers likely respond with something other than firefighter. Do not be silent on this!