The recent National Fire Academy (NFA) Weekend at Volk Field was a huge success! The four classes were filled with students who were eager to learn and the pre-weekend hands on training that focused on large vehicle extrications received rave reviews. Pete Silva also provided the complimentary Friday night preconference on the Stress First Aid for Fire and EMS, which was also well received. The next training opportunity is the Winter In-Service that will be held February 17th-19th, also at Volk Field. This event is designed for both new and veteran fire chiefs who are seeking education related to their roles and responsibilities as the fire chief.
On the legislative front, Chiefs Bantes and Melby have been busy representing the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs' Association (WSFCA) by testifying at the Wisconsin Legislative Council Study Committee on Volunteer Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Shortages. Chief Pfaff and I also attended a meeting with Secretary Ross regarding the status of the SPS 330 Advisory Committee's recommendations. The outcome of these meetings can be read about on the WSFCA website under Fire Wire Issue #3. In addition, Chief Bierce will be providing testimony regarding the fire district legislation that is under consideration.
Chief Garrison (Sun Prairie Fire Department) and I attended the recent Illinois Fire Chiefs Association's Conference as their guests. This was part of a reciprocal agreement that has been in place for the past three years and that provides the leadership of both states with the opportunity to network. Chief Bantes also attended the Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association's Conference under a similar arrangement. Both opportunities provided an abundance of ideas and new approaches to old problems that were brought back by the attendees. Lastly, Chief Rohlfing and I attended the first ever summit of the elected presidents representing the states of the Great Lakes IAFC Division. The goal of the summit, which was held in Indianapolis, was to discuss problems that are common to all the states and the various solutions that have been tried.
In closing, I want to highlight one of our WSFCA Sections today: the Administrative Assistants. Much like the fire chiefs they work for, this group of serious minded ladies strives to meet on a regular basis to share best practices and to network. When I first arrived at Wauwatosa six years ago, I insisted that my Administrative Assistant join the group and attend the meetings as frequently as possible. While interacting with her fellow admins certainly stretched her comfort zone, it also significantly increased the network of people she could reach out to when a unique problem arises and today she looks forward to the meetings. So, the next time your admin mentions the opportunity to attend the Administrative Assistant Meeting, I challenge you to encourage them to participate. You and your department will be better because you did.
If you have questions or concerns I encourage you to reach out to any of our Directors or myself. I am always available to any Wisconsin firefighter or chief and can be reached at rugaste@ wauwatosa.net or by cell at 414-840-7294.
Be Safe and Do Great Things!
Chief Rob Ugaste
President, Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs’ Association