The Volunteer & Combination Officers Section celebrated its 10th anniversary. With a current membership of 2,334 members, VCOS is the IAFC’s largest section. Established as the Volunteer Chief Officers Section, it continues to swell, with combination chiefs its fastest growing segment. Among the section’s major accomplishments are a new annual conference geared specifically for volunteer and combination chiefs (this year Nov. 11-14 in Orlando, Fla.), a “Blue Ribbon Report on Preserving and Improving the Nation’s Volunteer Fire Service” released in March 2004, and new work to assist DHS on the Fire Corps, a new national initiative to enlist support from community members for the nation’s volunteer departments.

The Department of Defense awards were presented. The DOD Fire Department of the Year is Regional Fire Department, Command Naval Forces of Japan. Military Fire Officer of the Year was Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roger E. Bond of the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma, Ariz. Civilian Fire Officer of the Year was Asst. Chief John D. Smithgall, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Willow Grove, Pa.

The IAFC continued developing support for Native American fire chiefs and is working with National Native American Fire Chiefs Association with hopes of creating a new section to network fire officials at America’s 540 Native American and tribal fire departments. With two fire prevention grants from the FIRE Act, the IAFC has been working with NNAFCA and other groups to develop fire prevention and education and training for firefighters and fire officers on America’s reservations, which currently have triple the national death rate from fire. Only recently has a separate partition been created in NFIRS to track incidents by Native American fire departments. For more on the IAFC efforts for Native American fire chiefs, see

The IAFC’s Hazmat Section heard a report from Chair John Eversole on a recent IAFC survey of the hazmat capabilities of America’s fire departments. The IAFC received very detailed surveys from 250 hazmat teams across the nation.

The IAFC’s newest section, Fire and Life Safety, established last year, met for the second time and unanimously passed resolutions to petition for a seat on the Board of Directors and to raise dues to $20 a year. The FLSS represented the fire service regarding emerging code issues through a special task force concerning assembly and group care occupancy fire safety. Residential fire sprinklers, standardized measurements for fire prevention and campus fire safety are all on the radar for the coming year.

The IAFC Terrorism and Homeland Security Committee heard about several new homeland security developments, including a report on the status of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 8, which requires the development of a national preparedness goal, assessment tools and training matrix to achieve those goals. According to Chief John Buckman, part of an interagency group working with the Department of Homeland Security, DHS recently completed a suite of 15 common scenarios of threats and hazards of national significance. Based on those scenarios, a Universal Task List identifying nearly 1,700 tasks that must be performed at all levels of government to prepare for, respond to and recover from those scenarios has been completed. Buckman characterized the HSPD 8 developing matrix as “way out of control.” He said, “It’s not reality. I keep asking them, ‘How is this going to help the battalion chief on the street?’ I usually don’t get an answer.”

The Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Section is working with Federal Laboratory Consortium to identify and transfer technology from government and private-sector laboratories to the fire service. It’s also working with the USFA to develop Incident Management Team capabilities, establish metropolitan-area IMT regional overhead teams based on U.S. Forest Service models, and develop unified-command training and a firefighter-credentialing system similar to the U.S. Forest Service’s “Red Card” program.

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