Greetings everyone and welcome to May. With 2021 having arrived, NVFC is celebrating 45-years of service and at the same time having a very sad note with the sudden passing of Heather Schafer the Executive Director of NVFC since 1994. Heather passed March 16th leaving a son in college and her fiancé. She managed a full-time staff of eleven and for now, Deputy Director Sara Lee has taken over operations. There was an extreme of emotions for the week of our spring meeting with the passing of Heather while recognizing the hundreds of accomplishments for NVFC during their 45-years.
NVFC completed the spring 2021 meeting virtually during the week of April 19 – 23 which marks the third meeting completed using this format thanks to COVID. Due to the four-hour time zone between Alaska and the east coast all business was transacted between 12 and 5 pm CST. There were a total of 40-States that participated during the entire week. Due to spreading out the meeting over five days, they were able to arrange for all 15-committees to meet and conduct their required business Monday through Thursday. Our keynote speaker during the General Session on Friday was DHS Secretary Mr. Alejandro Mayokas. He took notes and several questions from State Directors. A central theme was the need to better stock-pile than we had in the past based on several lessons learned from this pandemic.
In case you may have missed it, the Today Show featured NVFC as part of volunteer week Thursday morning on April 22. It included Colorado State NVFC Director Paul Acosta at his department and a volunteer firefighter paramedic from New York State. She was also in school to become a nurse practitioner. While the number of volunteers continues to decline with more leaving than being replaced it has slowed compared to 10 and 20-years ago. There are an estimated 770,000 volunteers at this time vs. 1.4 million in the 1980s. Thanks in part to recruitment and retention programs, better targeting the message to the age groups, understanding the days of 20-30 year service are not the norm, and matching people with very small blocks of time to opportunities that meet their schedules. It is not easy but there are some success stories from volunteer departments that applied revised thinking and resources to match up with how things just are today.
I will defer from a long article on NVFC Committee reports for now and pick some special interests in the next set of magazines to come. There are three more before getting into the fall meeting reports which are planned for November-December. The NVFC Conference Committee is very efficient in long-range planning. Thanks to COVID, they had to shift planned cities for all fall meetings. Currently Jackson, Wyoming for 2021, Wilmington, North Carolina for 2022, and Cooperstown, New York for 2023. The Conference Committee wanted to try picking a central Midwest location for a fall meeting, to spur attendance due to rising costs and found one which provided several key possibilities for September 21-23, 2024. NVFC will be the host versus requesting a state association to take this on because it is their idea, so congratulations to Missouri. The NVFC is coming to Kansas City, September 21-23 in 2024. I would hope that FFAM and the Missouri fire service would be able to offer some assistance. More to come in the future.
The current focus with all effort remains on firefighter cancer and has moved so far as revising the Lavender Ribbon report that was just released less than three years ago. The council has also been active with mental health including PTSD, firefighter suicide, which now averages 2 per day, and now COVID x2. The safety health and death of fire/EMS, plus the added issues now arriving with “Long Hauling” effects which continue. There is a lot more to come with all of these topics but time to wrap up for now. Thank you for your time and for allowing me to serve on your behalf with the NVFC.