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November 16, 2004
by Chief Billy Goldfeder 

I thought you might find it of interest that in this weeks meeting in Santa Rosa, California, the IAFC Health and Safety "Committee" chose a name for the NEW "section" of the IAFC. So what's in a name? The name change isn't a big deal in itself-but the fresh and sometimes new attitudes and enthusiasm that it appears to stand for at the IAFC, is. Fyi, within the IAFC, a "committee" has limited membership and opportunities. A "section" however, can be as large as the members want it to be-and has many more opportunities to succeed in a specific mission. 600+ members of the IAFC have supported the change. 

The IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section (SHS) is looking for even more new members. Yeah-you. And I don't often get very optimistic on changes like these...but I am pretty confident that this NEW section will soon make a significant impact on the safety, health and survival of members of the fire service. I think this new change and focus with the folks that are involved will matter. By the way, if you signed a petition in New Orleans at Fire Rescue International 2004, you will soon be receiving a letter requesting your support as a formal dues paying member of the new section. Pay the bill and get others to join as well. IAFC SHS has a number of ongoing "stop firefighter death and injury" activities "that matter" that you'll hear about in the near future. 

One area that I am especially glad about is that the major focus of the new section will be on the IAFC's role in the promotion and action related to the 16 life safety initiates developed at the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation Line of Duty Death Summit last Spring. 

Why is that a big deal? Because, for a change, we decided NOT to reinvent the wheel. The problems and issues effecting FF injury and death are obvious-and have already been well identified thru the NFFF LODD summit---IAFC SHS is going to take on those issues (with goals, objectives and solutions) to effect every IAFC member in numerous, numerous ways. And IAFC SHS is going to work aggressively in partnering with the other firefighter safety/survival groups and associations both nationally, state and locally to support the ONE FOCUSED mission in getting the injury and death rates changed-fast. This must/will be a coordinated, focused and successful mission. 

As many of you may know, the new section was enthusiastically endorsed by IAFC Board of Directors in August--that's a fact--I was in the meeting. The IAFC President, VP's and Board Members, one by one made "on the record statements" supporting the actions and changes. Not a big deal? I think it's a decent start. If every fire association and organization (national, state and local) and their members take the same actions-and coordinate the efforts to  continue the momentum, it will matter. 

If you were not one of the 600+ IAFC members that signed the petitions in New Orleans but are interested in getting involved on the ground floor of the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section, contact the IAFC at 703-273-0911 (Membership Dept) or by e-mail at for the details. Yes-you must be a member of the IAFC to join-but keep in mind that IAFC membership is open to other members of the fire service-not just Chiefs. If you are already a member of the IAFC, join the new section. 

If you've been a firefighter for more than 15 minutes, you know that change is slow in our business. And the ONLY way this stuff will get fixed is when we get the message of "change to survive" through to the FIRST LINE it Firefighters, Sgts, Lt's, B/C's...whoever is supervising. However, there has never been a time where "we" are all focused on fixing the "bad" stuff-and there has never been a better time to fix it. The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation took the ball and ran with it last Spring. Other organizations have also gotten the wakeup call and are working with them. This new section at the IAFC is one example. The newly formed "IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section"-of which you can become an active member-will be playing a major role in effecting the changes: from the Chiefs-right down to where the changes can most successfully be made: the First Line Supervisors. A few years ago, at the FDIC main program, we spoke on how "The Beat Goes On" and last year some friends of mine and I spoke on how "It Takes Courage to Make The Ch-Changes"....the formation of this new group at the IAFC is one more step that will lead to all of us slowing down "The Beat" and making the critically needed "Ch-Changes." 

Now, don't waste time whining to me why this won't matter or why it won't work...this time I'm being positive and don't have time to argue with you. Just join the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section and get personally involved as a it does matter.