Update From The NC State Firefighters’ Association

By Doug Bissette, Eastern Director

Have you ever wondered about serving on your local Fire Association? These boards are usually comprised of local members who are working to serve as a voice for the Firefighters of a particular area. These Board members could be either formal or informal leaders within a department. They usually have a common goal of moving the Fire Service forward. 

You may have noticed that the North Carolina State Firefighters’ Association (NCSFA) has added a line to the iconic NCSFA block logo. This line reads, Every Firefighter, Every day. As a Fire Service Leader, have you ever thought about that as a personal motto? Are you working for every firefighter every day or just a select few? 

When you think of moving the fire service forward, does that mean moving one section of the fire service forward or all of it? I think we would all be working to move it all forward. Every Firefighter means that the NCSFA is looking for improvements for Every Firefighter. The boards of the regional associations are looking to make their areas better. In doing this, we are making it better for all of the 55,000-plus firefighters in North Carolina.  

We need your help in doing this. We need younger members to help provide input on these boards. We need established members working alongside these boards to continue to provide input to establish growth and diversity for the future of the fire service. Did you know that you are already a member of the NCSFA? Each year, when your Fire Chief certifies the department’s roster and pays the annual dues, become a member of the NCSFA. You also automatically become a member of the regional association. Being a member of these opens up several benefits for you and the members of your family. To keep these benefits for you and your family, we will continue to need to encourage the younger members to get involved with serving on these boards.

Theodore Roosevelt offered these words when talking about Citizenship in a Republic “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcoming.” Often we allow the critics to deter us from growing the Fire Service. We let those who are trying to keep things as they are, decide the future of the Fire Service. Those critics are hurting moving our beloved Fire Service forward. 

We need more people in the arena, people who are committed to making changes. Those who are willing to get involved to make the needed changes as we continue to prepare the future of the Fire Service. Getting involved in moving the Fire Service forward can be done in multiple ways. Some of us enjoy the business side, while others look forward to teaching the next generation of Firefighters. Each side is equally important. To prepare the Fire Service, we should research the issues that firefighters are facing. 

Whether you are an instructor or working with Fire Associations, those making decisions need to be informed on how things move forward. We need to be making resources available to newer members so that they will be better prepared. The Fire Service is ever-changing, and as older members move towards a well-deserved retirement, we should have younger members prepared to fill their shoes. Involved Instructors who are taking their time to utilize trial and error to find ways to better prepare members to carry the same value as the Fire Association member who takes time to show why they need is there for more funding.

Understanding the Fire Associations in North Carolina can be slightly difficult. We have several different Associations that work for the betterment of the Fire Service in North Carolina. First, we have the North Carolina State Firefighters Association. Every firefighter in NC is a member of this Association, so long as they are on a certified roster. The NCSFA represents all of NC and is broken into three regional districts: Eastern, Piedmont, and Western. These three regional districts form their respective regional associations. If you are a member of the NCSFA, you automatically become a member of the Regional Association. Next, you have the NC Association of Fire Chiefs. The NCAFC members elect those from their regions to serve their board. Anyone who is a member of the NCAFC can apply to be considered for their elections. All five of these boards work together to collectively make changes within North Carolina.

Now, more than ever, is a great time to get involved. We need leaders to embrace the future. We need those who are visionaries and able to make positive changes happen. Getting involved can start at the local level. You can be engaged with your county fire association. You can attend classes and the South Atlantic Fire Rescue Conference or Mid-Winter Conference. Maybe you would like to make an impact on the regional level. Start attending those meetings. Do not be afraid to ask questions of the board members. Get to know those board members and let them know that you are interested in helping. You can find out a lot of information by attending meetings and asking questions. Just because you are not on one of these boards does not mean that you cannot help. Being visible at related events is equally helpful. Once you begin working on the issues that Firefighters face, you will find out that many are looking to better prepare the firefighters of the future.

Lastly, I am sure everyone knows someone that needs help. This may be on-the-job help, scholarships for education, health benefits, or classes to help prepare them for the future. Being involved in the Fire Service is how we continue to grow these programs. The NCSFA offers so many benefits to our Firefighters, and they all came from Board Members who were looking to make the Fire Service better. Do you see ways that we can make it better? I am sure we all have thoughts on how to grow the fire service for the future, and to do so, we must be prepared to enter the arena. People are going to talk about the process of you doing good, and that is OK. 

You have to keep pushing and know what the end goal is. You have to be ready to put in the work for other Firefighters. As a current board member, I can tell you that the work is worthwhile when you see the big wins, such as the Cancer Benefit. If you are interested in serving on a Regional Board, you can find the information for them here:

Eastern NC Firefighters’ Association: https://encfa.org/

Piedmont NC Firefighters’ Association: https://www.pncfa.org/ 

Western NC Association of Firefighters: https://wncaff.com/ 

I look forward to seeing you in the Arena. 

DougBissetteDoug Bissette is currently Deputy Chief of Wilson Fire-Rescue, and an active volunteer at Pinetown Volunteer Fire Department and Pinetown Rescue-EMS. He is the Past President of the Eastern Carolina Firefighters Association. He enjoys conducting live fire training throughout Eastern North Carolina.

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