By Victoria Lee, FirstNet Association Manager
The 2014 Fire-Rescue International (FRI) conference hosted by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) brought together more than 10,000 fire and emergency service leaders from all over the world to Dallas, TX for five days of learning, networking and collaboration. It was great to catch up with Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC) members Chief Gary McCarraher, IAFC Communications Committee Chair, and Chief Doug Aiken, National Public Safety Telecommunications Council Vice Chair.
The IAFC has existed for more than 140 years as a forum for fire and emergency service leaders to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. A well-orchestrated conference with recorded audio synced with slides, real-time interactive surveys, and valuable take-home materials – the sessions really compelled attendees to think critically of ways to help improve the way their departments operate, manage new and emerging technologies and focus on professional development, such as career advancement and ethical leadership.
FirstNet Board member Jeff Johnson spoke about FirstNet to the IAFC Board of Directors. As a veteran fire chief, Jeff knows firsthand the benefits that a nationwide public safety broadband network will bring to improving fire rescue operations. He presented an overview of FirstNet’s progress to date and encouraged the board and larger IAFC membership to contact IAFC PSAC member Chief Gary McCarraher and their state Single Point of Contact (SPOC) to provide input and feedback and ensure there is fire service representation on the governance body in each state and territory.
When speaking to such a diverse audience, it’s common to find disparity among attendees’ knowledge of FirstNet’s evolution so I provided an overview of FirstNet and its advancement since inception. I broke down progress along the FirstNet roadmap and discussed some of the outreach work we have been doing including attending conferences all across the country (like this one in Dallas), attending in-person meetings with the PSAC twice a year and creating an online digital toolkit.
Each state, city, county, territory, tribe, and public safety stakeholder is critical to the success of our organization, as well as the planning and deployment of the network. FirstNet will continue to work directly with the fire and emergency service and other first responders to ensure that the design, construction, and governance of the nationwide network are done efficiently and effectively.
Thanks to the IAFC for the opportunity to speak about FirstNet.