Almost always first on the scene, firefighters are in the business of response. “Our job is training, but our duty is response,” shares 21-year veteran, Division Chief William Tanks of the Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services.
“Firefighting is like a team sport, and game day is the actual event, whether it’s a fire or medical emergency. A lot of practice and training must take place for the performance to be successful. Someone’s life can depend on us being prepared.”
Although firefighters receive job training, expertise in areas such as various rescue techniques are best acquired at firefighting conferences. The best known is the Fire Department Instructor Conference (FDIC), held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana. The problem is many fire departments have few budget dollars for this kind of training. The current economy and even greater budget cuts have left some departments with no money at all for extra training. As a result, many firefighters would have to foot their own bills, and most can’t afford the $1,500 price tag for fees and travel costs.
In 2009 Lieutenant Tom Hancock from Cobb Fire Services attended the Fire Department Instructor Conference and envisioned a regional conference in Atlanta. A grassroots effort sprang from his idea as a committee of metro Atlanta firefighters from different experience levels began meeting to formulate a plan. The unique twist for the Atlanta conference would be that firefighters would pay nothing or a very low cost to attend. Their proposal was to underwrite the costs with funds provided through sponsors, partners, and donors. The result was the creation of a nonprofit organization, the Metro Atlanta Fire Officers Association, and the
Metro Atlanta Firefighters Conference (MAFFC). The first conference took place in May 2010 with 183 attendees.
The latest MAFFC in May 2012 drew almost 500 firefighters. A majority of the attendees were from the Southeast, but some traveled from other parts of the country. MAFFC ssDivision Chief William Tanks, Cobb County Fire & Emergency Services promotes pride and professionalism in its efforts to train firefighters at every level of the fire service. For anyone who attends, the only training cost not covered is $25 for practical training. (Travel costs are not covered.) Training is provided by top-quality, nationally known speakers, in addition to up and coming local instructors.
“Supporting MAFFC is a great way for any individual or business interested in public safety to give back,” says Division Chief Tanks. “Helping firefighters directly affects the community.” Sponsors are recognized on the MAFFC website, Facebook, t-shirts, and all other promotional materials. And for businesses that market products directly to fire personnel, sponsors are invited to a four-hour social event where they can interact directly with attendees at the end of the conference.
If you are interested in responding to not only our local firefighters, but also those attending from around the country, go to www.maffc.org for sponsor information. The basic level is as simple as a raffle item donation for the next conference in May 2013.
Division Chief Tanks points out that as MAFFC continues to grow, not only will our community have better firefighter proficiency, but also the added marketing bonus of conference attendees in the Cobb area. Checks should be made out to MAFFC and mailed to: MAFFC, 1022 Meadow Brook Drive, Woodstock, GA 30188 . For more information, contact Division Chief William Tanks at firstname.lastname@example.org or 770-861-6755.
(Reprinted from the November 2012 issue of EAST COBBER.)