How is your department? How is recruitment? Are there financial constraints on your organization’s budget? No worries as you are not alone as our communities struggle, our organizations struggle and every industry is strugglingto adapt to a rapidly changing world.
The Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs’ Association is not immune from organizational challenges. The Board has been actively working and continues to address these challenges with short and long-term solutions. So, I wanted to highlight the efforts of the Board.
The budget: We were presented with an initial 2018 budget that had a $20,000 deficit. We had several meetings and this hardwork produced a budget in the black.
What did the Board do or not do?
- The Board decided to not propose a dues increase.
- The Board decided to not put false hope on revenues.
- The Board decided to not raise 2018 Annual Conference fees for attendees in the Dells.
- However, the Wisconsin Dells is a more expensive venue comparatively to Green Bay. For example, breakfast was included with hotels in Green Bay. The Board also recognizes that the Dells will be a very family friendly venue and thus everyone will be on their own for breakfast. This change allowed us to keep conference fees for attendees unchanged from 2017 and will allow attendees to enjoy breakfast with family and colleagues.
- The Board researched and did move to an alternate printer for our magazines. This will allow us to continue four print magazines at a lower cost with a minimal change in the magazine and its layout.
- The magazine change should increase electronic content that will be pushed more regularly. We will continue towork on this item.
- The Board continues to be very mindful of expenses and increase efficiency.
- The Board recognizes the need to increase revenue through increased sponsorships and partnerships.
- One recent example is the WSFCA partnership with Lexipol. Our relationship will result in a portion of revenues being turned back to WSFCA and WSFCA members organizations receiving a subscription discount. Finally, Lexipol will provide educational and best practice content, webinars for WSFCA members.
Is it too early to start reflectingas my term nears the end? Well even if so, not letting upon the gas as we have lots to continue to do.
- Although the legislative session will be over by the time you read this, we need to keep on politicking and spreading our message. We have heard great feedback from the EMS Lobby Day in 2017 and how that eased and open the door to connect with legislators. We need to continue and build on this.
- We need to continue to build our relationships with traditional and non-traditional partners. Collaboration is our future.
- We need to be aware of and potentially get involved in issues that may not appear to directly impact fire, EMS and emergency services. For example, if you are not aware of the Dark Store issue get to know it because the cost shift may cause increasing concern of municipal services.
- Nominations will open this spring for an expanded board as approved by the membership last year. We need you. We need members willing to serve. Six regional trustees will provide connectivity to every area of the state and three appointed trustees will ensure that volunteer, combination and career departments are represented.
- We will continue to focus on firefighter health and safety. Our Mental Wellness and Carcinogen, Cancer Reduction Task Forces will offer better practices that organizations should consider implementing. From no cost items like wearing SCBA to low cost of providing wipe to annual physicals. Additionally, an even larger collaboration on these important issues is in the works; stay tuned.
- Again, if you or someone you know needs a connection to peer support or mental wellness services, please reach out. Until we spin up our services we can connect our members to services that already exist within the state.
- Understand and make other members aware of the environment we are functioning in. While we have been actively involved in trying to change opinions (apartment sprinkler ruling) and legislation, we will not always be successful. So, we must learn to function in this environment. As was stated in a previous magazine edition, “we must ensure that our members are fully aware of the challenges they face and that they continuously make a risk vs benefit analysis.”
- Fire Chiefs are a powerful “brand” and we need to ensure and develop this. We need to be the voice of Fire and EMS issues in our local areas and the state. If not, someone else will become that voice.
- As of this writing we are pulling together resources to start a discussion on better practices for fire alarms in schools and other public assemblies. Early discussion and connections to other Midwest states have proven insightful and beneficial. The Fire Chiefs need to be this voice and be a strong brand.
- Finally, the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs' Association must strengthen its support, mentorship, guidance and advocacy for other members. While we cannot get involved in every issue, we want to know what you need and how Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs' Association can better support our mission and our members. Recycling a previous sign off: Thanks for reading, and while the challenges we face can seem daunting, let us instead view them as “opportunities.” Keep your gear clean, be well, be safe and if anything please reach out.
Chief Jon Cohn
President, Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs' Association