The annual “What Does the IAFC Do For You?” issue of IAFC On Scene is one of my favorite issues. It provides us with a snapshot of the raw power that is the collective work of our members. It demonstrates what can be achieved when all the members of the IAFC family—members, staff, partners, etc.—dedicate themselves to moving the ball forward for the fire and emergency service.
This is particularly true for our members. We love this job, we love the fire and emergency service family and we want to see it grow and thrive.
Everything in these pages reflects contributions of members who choose to make a difference beyond their community. It takes time, effort, patience and everyone working together.
Professional membership associations like the IAFC can never charge enough dues to serve their member’s needs absent participation from the members themselves. It’s not a sustainable business model, nor would you want it to be.
Consider an alternate universe where your professional-development budget has no limit. Even if your dues could sustain all services, you would lose the connection and relevance of people who live the job on a daily basis. You lose the soul of the organization.
Without the active engagement of members, you lose the perspective that’s more complete than someone once removed – That’s not to take anything away from our tremendous staff. Working in concert with our staff is like using a megaphone. Their expertise allows our voice to be heard loudly and clearly, but it remains the member’s voice.
Members bring credibility that others can’t – From the incidents you’ve worked to the uniform you wear, who you are brings issues and ideas to life. The contributions of your expertise at the national level commands respect and means a great deal to legislators, administrators and your colleagues.
Associations help their members by solving industry problems and by connecting professionals with other professionals – While this is true for any association, this has the ring of our tradition. If our brothers and sisters in the fire service need us, don’t we answer the call? Experiences gained and problems solved in one part of the nation may well save a chief officer across the country if shared by and through participation in the IAFC.
Engaging provides personal and professional growth – We have a responsibility to ourselves to challenge ourselves and grow. As much as we love our jobs, we still need external stimulation. An issue that challenges your mind, makes you think differently or provides living testimony that battles can be fought and won can be a great reminder of the value of membership.
Not all life-changing moments happen on an incident scene – You may never know how sharing your ideas, writing an article, giving a presentation or just lending an ear may create a force of change. Occasionally, I''ll be reminded about something I said in a long-forgotten speech that gave a colleague confidence or an idea that changed his or her career. Your words and actions have the power to make a difference, but only if they’re shared.
As American Express says, "Membership has its privileges."
True enough; but membership also has a responsibility: to get involved and contribute to moving the fire and emergency service forward. You just might get something out of that yourself.
If you’re not involved yet, check out the ideas in the Get Involved article. My special thanks to every IAFC member who chooses to give his or her time to this organization and its members.
Chief Jeff Johnson, EFO, CFO, MIFireE
IAFC President and Chairman of the Board
Visit On Scene July 15, 2010 for additional articles and information.