Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is hard to believe that the second quarter to the 2013-2014 term is behind us. This year seems to be moving at TURBO speed and before we know it the Annual Conference will be upon us. Please keep that in mind and plan early to attend this year. Registration information is contained within this issue and I look forward to seeing all of you again. The Colbert County Association is the host this year and as always we know this will be a great Conference!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the Officers and Board members for their assistance during my transition period. Rest assured I have used their many years of experience within this association to make sure we are headed in the right direction and as ONE. I would also like to recognize the efforts of our Administrative Assistant, Wanda Jones, for the work she performs behind the scenes to keep everything in the office up to date. This is an important role and one that is invaluable to this association.
Early in this years' Legislative session we had a few bills that could have affected us and addressed life safety issues within the State. I will give you a brief synopsis of those bills and where they stand as of this date. Please remember you can get the full version, status and history of all bills at the Alabama Legislative Information Service Online (ALISON) website.
HB385 and SB327 addressed the residential fire sprinkler dilemma in the state. These bills, if passed, would have allowed the State Fire Marshall to issue permits to certain potable water single-family dwelling fire protection sprinkler contractors. I have already given you its' fate in the sentence above by using “would have” as these bills were killed by lobbyist from several groups AGAIN! Hopefully the formation of a committee to study this concept “prior to” to nest session and submit recommendations to the Legislative body will give it NEW life the next time around. HB85 was an effort to fund the Firefighters Annuity and Benefits Fund by placing an additional $5 fee on each firefighter tag issued in the state. The bill was introduced on January 14th and was “very” short lived. SB264 may have very well played a role in the death of HB85, and vice versa, when it was introduced on January 23rd. This bill “would have” increased from 1 to 2 the number of tags issued to volunteer firefighters that are exempt from licenses fees and ad volorem taxes. It too was very short lived before stalling in committee. HB68 is the final piece of legislation that may affect us IF it has strong legs. This bill is drafted to protect volunteers (fire and rescue) from civil liability when responding to calls of an emergency medical services nature. The bill was introduced by the AARS who in turn included volunteer firefighters in its language. Finally, I am sorry to have to report that if ongoing budget hearings do not take a positive turn WE will see negative numbers on our forestry grant checks next year. That line item has been tentatively cut by 367,465 dollars. That will equate to a decrease of approximately $20 per department across the board. I am keeping an eye on this and talking to everyone I can to keep this from happening. I encourage everyone to call their Representatives and ask them to support the VFD's across the state! The “squeaky wheel gets the grease”. (And the cash)!
You that know me well have long realized that firefighter safety is of the upmost importance to me. With that in mind I will leave you with an alarming statistic and request. “According to the U. S. Fire Administration, annually nationwide nearly a quarter of firefighter fatalities took place while firefighters were driving to calls. Vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of firefighter fatalities second only to heart attacks.” I ask that each of you PLEASE review/refine your Driver Training S.O.G.s and be absolutely certain that you are doing ALL you can do to make sure one of your members does not become a national statistic!
MAY GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND KEEP YOU SAFE: EVERY DAY, EVERY RUN.