This year’s Hill Day was the 15th year of this incredible event, held in Washington, D.C. on April 25. Hill Day, which has come to be a staple event used to drum up as much support for the benefit of our fire service providers, is an event that always draws the attendance of FEMSA members and supporters.
As per usual, Hill Day was filled with representatives and leaders from America’s largest fire emergency manufacturers and services companies. Our goal was to “blitz” Capitol Hill in an effort to both thank Congress members for their support as well as lobby for important fire and EMS oriented initiatives.
A big focus of Hill Day 2019 was funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant, or AFG. In recent years, government support and funding of the AFG program has either been cut or funded at the same level as the previous year. This is an alarming trend, and it was something we wanted to make our representatives aware of during this year’s Hill Day.
The AFG fund was established in 2001 and was put forth with the intention to increase the ability of communities to support their local emergency service providers with proper equipment and enough funding to ensure these important jobs could be done.
Because funding is an ongoing struggle for fire protection and EMS providers, it’s imperative that the government follows through on the proper support for these departments. With the repeated cuts to the AFG’s funding, the big picture is not looking so positive.
With the increase in domestic terrorism threats, natural disaster, and a growth in population in many communities, fire services are running thin on resources — and continuing to cut these resources down is far from the right solution.
This year, we entreated our Congress representatives to restore the funding levels from fiscal year to the 2011 levels of funding for fiscal year 2020. This is not a large ask, considering the higher amounts of funding from 2009 that have since been cut.
By the end of the second day, FEMSA members had conducted meetings with over 50 congressional offices.
That night, in conjunction with the Congressional Fire Services Institute FAMA|FEMSA gathered for the 30th annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner and Symposium.
It was here that two awards were given out to individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fire services industry:
- The Mason Lankford award was given to Chief Russell Sanders
- The Dr. Anne W. Phillips award was given to Dr. Ernest Grant
We had a great experience at 2019 Hill Day. We enjoyed meeting with other organizations and leaders in the industry. We also enjoyed meeting with dozens of congressional offices and doing our part to help secure federal funding for fire departments across the country. We plan to attend this event again in the future and look forward to keeping in touch with many of the great people we met during this event.