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A Message From The 1st Vice President – September 2020

Welcome to fall, or perhaps early spring or late summer or maybe even winter! As crazy as this year has been I am not sure what to prepare for in the coming months and if things continue as they have been it will certainly change no matter what we plan for. We have seen some things change directly for the FFAM with no convention and a modified State Fair Fire Department. I am proud of the way our organization has adapted to the challenges as they have been presented. Hopefully, next year will see us return to our traditions and roots and we will find some normalcy in our activities.

In this edition let’s visit a bit about accountability. What does that mean anyway? One book definition is the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility. Another says accountability refers to an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions. A very common application for the fire service accountability is keeping track of all resources and personnel at an incident scene, something we are generally pretty good at.

So if we are good at keeping track of our personnel and resources at our incidents do our agencies or we as individuals also excel at accountability in all other phases of our fire service related service? Are we quick to accept the responsibility for actions taken or for actions not taken? 

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What’s in a Budget

Each year the FFAM receives many financial funds through membership dues, corporate sponsorships, donations, and other funding sources.  The annual amount of income as you could probably guess fluctuates quite a bit dependent on the various funding sources that are not all guaranteed at a given rate.  Many of your agencies, municipal and tax-based districts, generally have a fairly good idea each year what the income and available funds may be.  For those paid subscription agencies you no doubt understand how your funds fluctuate depending on who pays each year to be a member.

You might wonder how this affects the overall functions of the FFAM.  As with any business, agency, organization, or group, it takes financial support to be able to function as the FFAM.  Each year we go through a process of setting a budget to be utilized to get through the year and always try to end up with unused funds to carry on to the next year.  Each committee serving the FFAM is tasked with creating a budget request reflecting what funds they will need to accomplish their particular purpose in support of the overall mission of the FFAM.  Those requests are due by the October FFAM Board of Directors meeting.

Once received the requests are individually considered by the Budget Committee for merit.  At times a follow-up conversation takes place to determine if the request is a “need” or a “want” and alterations are made as appropriate.  Once the details get hammered out the committee creates a proposed budget that is presented at the December meeting of the Board of Directors for adoption. 

Discussion is held at that meeting to make the fine-tuned adjustments that may be needed before the final vote is made to adopt a budget.

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A Message From The 1st VP – July 2020

I am not sure if I took a longer nap than I thought, but did I miss the convention? It was certainly unfortunate that the convention had to be postponed and then canceled after all the hard work the folks in Kearney put into making it an event to remember. My thanks to everyone involved in the planning for the event as I know what commitment that takes. With the cancellation, it looks like we will be holding the annual meeting at the August 9, 2020, Board Meeting in Sedalia at the fair fire station. If you have the opportunity, join us.

I would like to visit with you in this article a little bit about “doing the right thing.” This topic was discussed in a recent training I attended and brought about some additional thoughts beyond what that training was focused on. When you hear the words “doing the right thing” what comes to mind? Does your mind see the picture of the diligent Boy Scout escorting the little old citizen across the street? Do you envision a world where there is no “evil” and everyone acts in the best interest of their fellow citizen? Do you conjure up memories of being rewarded because you did your chores without being told? We called that “getting to eat supper” Do you see the image of a gallant knight galloping through some mid-evil time to rescue the damsel in distress?

No matter where your mind goes when you hear those four words we all have some concept of doing the right thing. The point that sometimes can be a bit blurred is who gets to determine what the “right thing” actually is? There is not an easy answer for that and each instance dictates what the right thing is and that is compounded further by the person making that decision. What one person may think is the right thing can often vary greatly from the next person and due to that we can often develop conflict in our lives or departments by taking actions not completely embraced as being the right thing.

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A Message from the 1st Vice President – May 2020

Wow! What a change of events for all of us. At this time we would normally be talking about the great time we all had at the convention, the old friends we visited with, and the new relationships that we developed. Amazing how one virus and all the associated onslaught of under and overreactions can completely change the course of well-placed plans. My thanks to the folks in Kearney for taking the steps to postpone the convention in the best interest of maintaining a unified front to our members and our communities that we follow the guidelines we preach to the public. I guess we will see everyone in July, at least at this point. Speaking of being unified, let’s talk a bit about unity. I take pride in the fact that during my various time spent working in law enforcement and the fire service both professions are a place of unity.

We always talk about both professions individually being a “family” and we are normally unified in our concerns and goals. Where I sometimes see a bit of a speed bump is the lack of unity between some law enforcement and some fire service agencies or even just between fire service agencies. I can remember the “good ole days” when most law enforcement and fire people spent time together and truly were unified in our efforts to serve the public and take care of each other. Time and life demands have changed and we don’t always see the same level of interaction we once did. In more recent times I have read and heard the horror stories of fire personnel being arrested on scenes by law enforcement and law enforcement officers being assaulted by fire service people, and a few cases of fire people assaulting fire people.

Unfortunately, these types of activities that generally become headlines on the local and national news do not speak well for our unity on a public stage. I would think it would be hard to embrace calling for law enforcement or fire assistance as a member of the public if the 6 o’clock news keeps telling us how the two professions on that local level cannot work together. These types of activities continue to deteriorate working relationships long after the event is “over” and can pretty well cripple everyone’s attempt at providing our public and each other a quality product.

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A Message from the 1st Vice President – March 2020

Greetings! Hopefully you have made plans and have already sent in your registration to attend the 2020 FFAM convention in Kearney in May. It is always a great opportunity to learn, visit with old friends and make many new memories. I hope to see each of you there!

Not to be a wet blanket or “Debbie downer,” but this time around I think we should talk a bit about death. I know many of you just readjusted your reading glasses or squirmed in your seat just a bit and had to decide if you were going to read any further. I realize the majority of people don’t like to talk about death and the very topic is often ignored or avoided at all costs. With those things in mind, bear with me for a bit and let’s discuss death.

An old saying indicated the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. From what I have seen advertised lately on television the tax part may not even apply like it used to as there are companies out there that promise to erase or reduce your tax debt so even though taxes are still around they may not have the lifetime impact they once did. Death on the other hand is pretty certain. I won’t get into a debate about whether you can be frozen in the hopes of being thawed out and put back in to service at a later date so let’s just agree that all of us are going to face death at some point.

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A Message from the 1st Vice President – January 2020

Well by now we are all already busy with our 2020 projects and life happenings. I hope everyone had the opportunity to connect with friends and family and offer assistance to your communities during the various holidays closing out last year.

Let’s talk about a new year and new things in this edition. Since we are after the “official” setting of your New Year’s resolutions this hopefully will be something you can work out that will be more easily obtainable. The normal resolutions seem to deal with weight loss, less tobacco use, less alcohol, more time with family, less stress at work and various other related topics. The reality is those resolutions often fall by the wayside within a short time, but we will resolve in 2021 to do a better job at addressing those issues.

So let’s talk about some “new” things that you can work on. Have you sought out any new training over the last year or years? If not, maybe this is the year to do so. None of us is ever totally prepared for all aspects of this profession no matter how long we have been around. With this in mind how about we each take a few extra minutes and seek out and complete some new training. Knowledge is never a bad thing and in this profession it might just be something that keeps you alive. There are numerous opportunities out there whether located within striking distance of your location or perhaps on that crazy thing that got invented called the internet. It is amazing how many things are available online that are useful. Just remember not all online resources are credible. So be careful out there and being able to attend face-to-face training is an even better avenue.

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A Message from the 1st Vice President – November 2019

It is hard to believe, but it appears the end of the year is upon us and somehow most of us ran out of time to accomplish all the things we wanted to or more likely should have completed this year. I hope each of you find successes when available and remember to take the “big picture” into account before deciding your efforts fell terribly short.

I think we should talk a little about family this time. As we scrape the surface of this element of our lives I want to talk a little about our “home” family and about our “fire” family. We all know the importance of our families, whether they are traditional, blended, functional or like many, dysfunctional. The connection to your family often provides the foundation or at least the materials to make a foundation that will connect you to the world throughout your lifetime. Without some basic skills learned through your family connection we would be left floundering around searching for where we “fit” in to society.

The family dynamic has certainly changed over the years and we each can form our own opinion on what has been good and what may not have been so good in these changes. The busy lives, hectic work schedules and desire to serve our communities we have undertaken in recent times have helped to change some basic family functions. As less time is spent with our family it is easy to lose sight of the importance our family interaction serves. With this in mind we all need to make the effort to carve out time to interact with your family and perhaps take the high road and work towards repairing any damage that has been done in the past without casting blame or expecting praise for doing so.

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A Message from the 1st Vice President – September 2019

I hope everyone’s summer has gone well and you had the opportunity to get those things done you wanted and maybe even carved out a little time to rest and relax. For those of you that represented the FFAM by working at the Missouri State Fair Fire Department, I extend my personal thanks and thank you on behalf of the citizens of Missouri and those visiting our great state for your dedication and willingness to serve in such a unique agency.

In this edition why don’t we talk about memories. Each of us have developed many memories over the years and will continue to do so at least up until the day we pass. Some of those memories are treasured and bring great joy to us when we reflect on them, but others are not so good and sometimes as much as we try they just don’t go away. Stop, before you don’t read any further because you think we are going to rehash a current topic of job related mental illness and PTSD, we are not headed there.

It has been said that all of our experiences and all of the memories that result from those experiences blend together to make the person we each become. If you are fortunate to have only good experiences and positive memories then I applaud you and hope you bring a ray of sunshine into everyone’s life you touch. Of course if this is the case it is likely you are not in the emergency services field. As most of you know our line of work exposes us to the worst days of a lot of people’s lives and even though the tragedy may not have happened directly to us, we will share that memory with those people forever. Due to that exposure we in the emergency services field tend to be a little more cynical or skeptical and have what I like to call, “a firm grip on reality.” No, I am not saying we should all run around being gloom and doom, I am just saying we may sometimes be a little less than a ray of sunshine.

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