What Does the Future Hold (Part Two)?
In the last President’s Message, I wrote about how there has been much discussion over the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. I think most departments have come to realize that this is a 24 hour, seven days-a-week problem, even though the lowest turnout of members may be during the weekday timeframe. As I wrote then, this is a problem with direct implications on the public’s safety, as well as our own. And again, eventually, public problems become political issues.
With the conversations at our meetings there was a request to find out how bad the lack of available members has become. For us as an Association to make progress on this issue, information was needed to see how acute this problem was. As such, a survey was sent out to each volunteer fire department in the County. I would like to thank the Englewood Cliffs, Lyndhurst, Rochelle Park, Maywood, and Cresskill Fire Departments for returning the surveys. But without this basic information from the majority of our fire departments, this Association can’t move forward on addressing solutions. Where are the rest of the surveys? Conversations at our meeting have several times mentioned about what occurred in Hunterdon County to relieve their volunteer shortages. Out lack of information does not let us define how bad the problem is. If we were in the future to look to the County for assistance, as has been brought up by our membership, the lack of data will not let those elected officials truly grasp the depth of the problem. I expect to send out the surveys again, in January, and will request that your departments please take part by answering and returning it.
Moving on to other subjects, over the past several months I have sent out emails on topics that I think are important, and I hope that you have been reading them. Links to the Lavender Ribbon Report on fire service cancer, information on the League of Municipalities stance against the presumptive cancer legislation, updates to the retired municipal worker/volunteer pension bill, new truss designs, and courses being offered in our area, have all been sent out. If you have not received any of these, or would like to be added to our email list, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will make sure you are added to the list. This Association is looking to grow and always welcomes new members. Our membership is open to current and past fire chiefs in Bergen County, as well as Associate and Corporate members. Get in touch and I will follow up with you about joining.
As the year draws to a close, on behalf of the Executive Board, I would like to wish you all a joyful and safe holiday season and happy new year.