2018 is coming to a rapid close and the Firefighters and EMS Fund spent some time after the midterm elections reflecting on our past and charting our course for the future. Just one year ago, the Firefighters and EMS Fund was formed. We have already begun to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of firefighters. Through political action and by organizing our grassroots supporters, we have been able to affect change in cities around the United States.
Throughout the year we focused our efforts on forging relationships with passionate firefighters and department leaders around the country so that we could make the biggest impact where it mattered most. We attended conferences such as FDIC (Fire Department Instructors Conference) and FRI (Fire Rescue International) and already have plans to accomplish even more next year.
Here are some of the attended events and political accomplishments for 2018:
2018 Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC), Indianapolis
In April, we attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference to learn from the industry’s best. We made over twenty-five new contacts, and a handful of friends that we would be fortunate enough to run into at other events throughout the year.
In August, members of the board attended and exhibited for the very first time at Fire Rescue International. Ready to showcase our capabilities and learn firsthand from industry leaders the challenges fire departments are facing today and how we can help.
At this conference we received fifty new contacts and our literature left its impression on thousands who passed by our booth. We also received two leads that would evolve into our largest political efforts and achievements to date.
Our first lead led us to Collier County, Florida. Thanks to the kindness of two department chiefs in neighboring districts, our information was forwarded to the North Collier Professional Firefighters Association. Our second lead came from the firefighters of Houston who stopped by our booth to tell us about the massive effort their fire department was undertaking to give them pay parity with Houston’s police officers in the November midterm elections.
August 2018 North Collier Fire District Referendum, Florida
Just thirteen short days before a local fire referendum was to be voted on in Collier County, Florida, we jumped into action to spread the word that a “yes” was needed for non ad-valorem fee assessment.
The North Collier fire district has grown by over 60% since their budget was last set back in 2007. Firefighters there had a real need for new equipment and the flexibility to increase firefighter crew members and hours so we were more than happy to step in and help. Unfortunately, the measure did not pass but we only gained experience from this project. The moment it ended, we were ready for more.
2018 Midterm Elections
We were fortunate enough to help fire departments in two separate cities succeed in both providing a better quality of life for local firefighters and defend a budget that, if reduced, would have severely undercut local firefighters’ ability to serve their community adequately.
North Collier Fire District PAC Support, Collier County, Florida
Firefighters and EMS Fund focused its political efforts for a second time this year on Collier County, Florida. The PAC run by the North Collier Firefighters Association interviewed the candidates and endorsed three to fill the seats available on the November ballot. It was a highly contested race, on the heels of our shared loss earlier in the year, we knew that a victory here would be crucial.
We made an in-kind contribution of digital artwork, along with a budget to run the ads, and deployed an automated call to over 40,000 homes in the district. In the end, all three candidates won their seats.
North Collier Firefighters Association President, Chris Spencer wrote an eye opening Op-Ed in the weeks following the election to share his thoughts on what happened. We could not be more grateful for our relationship with the industry leaders we have met on our journey so far.
While at Fire Rescue International, Dallas, Firefighters and EMS Fund learned that Houston firefighters were fighting hard for a pay raise. After researching the issue in depth, we quickly determined that they absolutely deserved it.
Houston firefighters, when compared to those at the top five departments in other Texas cities, currently earn about 30% less than their colleagues. In those other four cities (Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio), firefighters earn an average of $51,721 annually. Houston firefighters, on the other hand, earn an average base salary of just $42,121 per year. Houston is currently the largest city in the state of Texas with a population of almost 2.5 million. The second largest city in Texas is San Antonio with a population just over 1.5 million.
We directed resources to a group supporting the cause called Support Our Firefighters PAC. A representative from the PAC shared with us about how meaningful the donation was to support its TV campaign, “Thank you so much for your support, I have my firefighters down here knocking on doors and making phone calls but where we’ve got to make a bigger impact is the TV space.” The firefighters of Houston ultimately prevailed on election night 2018 with a victory in support of the measure 59% for, 40% against.
Grassroots Engagement and Support
The Firefighters and EMS Fund grew with the support of thousands of dollars in investment in direct mail, digital ads, email marketing, and by word of mouth as a direct result of attending conferences.
Video Ad Campaign
- Released 1 explainer video “Top 3 Issues Affecting Firefighters in 2018” which has over 30,000 views.
- This video is the first of a series that, starting in 2019, will be released quarterly.
So we can make the most informed decisions possible, we are searching for seasoned fire and EMS industry professionals to serve on our advisory committee. We hope to fill two positions by the end of 2019, and are very excited for Firefighters and EMS Fund’s potential to grow beyond our goals with the help of industry veterans.
2019 will be without a doubt a defining year for the Firefighters and EMS Fund, and I am personally looking forward to the challenges and opportunities for achievement next year will bring. For more information about Firefighters and EMS Fund, visit us online at fireemsfund.wpengine.com.