Firehouse

JAN 2017

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Divided Elections Let us work together on fire and life safety efforts so as to not be a divided country O n Jan. 3, the 115 th Congress will begin session, and on Jan. 20, the 45 th president will be inau- gurated. What does that mean for the fire service? The same process has occurred for the past 227 years, so what will make this one any different? What we all learn and how we serve will make it different! Challenges and opportunities I can recall the overwhelming joy of a suc- cessful election as well as the abrupt humil- ity of losing an election. While my experi- ence was certainly not at the level of the United States presidency, it was still power- ful to realize that my service to the com- munity was changing. As with all changes in life, they can be a blessing if you'll see it with a new perspective. I enjoyed the six years I served as mayor and probably wouldn't be where I am today without that lesson of humility at a young age. Our challenge now: What new per- spective will we view our service through? The current political environment is anti- regulation and anti-government, which was observed during this election cycle by President-elect Donald Trump when he attacked some of the most progressive fire officials in our country for enforcing the International Fire Code and NFPA Life Safety Code. Some thought supporting the enforcement of these codes didn't make sense for a political rally, as it is often desirable for many to seek convenience over codes. We can see the deadly results of avoiding code compliance with the recent tragic event in Oakland, CA. At first glance, from the perspective of a fire official, this was an easy shut-the-place- down situation. From an elected official perspective, the challenge is how do we balance abandoned buildings, affordable housing, and citizens' desire to live a cer- tain lifestyle. T h e r e a r e m a ny examples where the fire service has successfully engaged to educate poli- cymakers, and we must continue to do this! The key is that in this new political environment, doing the right thing and enforcing the law requires a lot more work. Why? Because we have to utilize more education than authority. Yes, you would like to have a willing lis- tener, and while the uniform always gets the attention, it doesn't always get the desired result. The past is the past, and the future is more pleasant with a positive attitude. I am positive that House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Kevin Brady, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, will lead the way to tax reform. While we may not know how good it will be overall, we do know it is well overdue and even if a tiny portion will give incentives for fire and life safety measures that will prevent future tragedies, then that will be positive. Senator Susan Collins of Maine and many others have been strong advocates of the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act—a bipartisan bill—for many years. We need to expand our champions of this proactive legislation, and we need to pass this bill! Rep. James Langevin of Rhode Island first introduced this bill in 2004 as a result of the Station Nightclub Fire and has been a champion ever since. If you have a member of Congress on House Ways and Means, please reach out for support. Moving forward The Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) and your associations will play a critical role over the next four years as they continue to serve you diligently. Make sure that you do everything you can to support their efforts. Are your Congressional leaders members of the Fire Caucus? If not, why not ask them to join? Further, attending the CFSI Annual Semi- nar and Dinner this year will be critical to congratulating your Congressperson in this new political environment. The Congress and administration will require quick responses and effective actions that bring all stakeholders' perspec- tives to the table. This is what the fire ser- vice does well every day. The key will be to remember that the people and the great- est form of government on the planet have spoken, so don't forget their perspective. Divided elections? Surely. Divided United States of America? Never! Let's unite and move forward for fire and life safety. n By Shane Ray FIRE POLITICS The key is that in this new political environment, doing the right thing and enforcing the law requires a lot more work. SHANE RAY has been a volunteer firefighter since 1984 and a career firefighter since 1994. He has also served as a mayor for six years and the Tennessee Fire Chief's Legislative Chairman for 12 years. Ray's love for politics started as fire chief of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department in Tennessee, where he served 13 years. He then served under Governor Nikki Haley in South Carolina as superintendent and state fire marshal. He currently serves as the president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association and is a lifetime member of the Pleasant View Volunteer Fire Department. Throughout his career, he has been committed to public service with a "Do It Different" mentality and that all stakeholders are important. ChiefShaneRay4 pub/shane-ray/6/278/9b8 @ChiefRayS Connect with Shane For More Fire Politics firehouse.com/11710200 18 l Firehouse l January 2017

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