viernes, 13 de marzo de 2009


From the President

What a year! As I reflect back on 2007-08 I feel proud and fortunate to be leading such a great organization. Harnessing the momentum of our 12th Annual NAHF International Conference in Dallas, TX we continued to make great strides in building and establishing the "NAHF Brand" in the fire service. As we continue to build new chapters and coalitions our influence and credibility in the fire service simultaneously expands. I'd like to thank each and every member of the NAHF throughout the United States. Because of you, we continue to focus our energy and resources in a direction that will ensure Hispanics have a seat at the table wherever discussions are taking place that address the challenges and opportunities facing Firefighters and our Communities. I especially want to thank our 2007-08 executive board for all their dedication and sacrifices they made to enable us to reach new heights.

As I begin my second term as President, I'm as enthusiastic and optimistic as I was when I began my first term. Although we have long way to go, we have achieved much. I'd like to share with you some of our achievements.

In October 2007 the NAHF partnered with Energizer Batteries and the International Association of Fire Chiefs and participated in the Cambia la Hora Cambia las Pilas (Change Your Clock, Change Your Battery Campaign). This marked our fifth consecutive year we have lead the Fire and Life Safety Public Education Spanish media blitz. This media blitz is broadcast throughout the United States. From the shores of Miami to the shores of Los Angeles, and from the windy city of Chicago to the heart of Texas, Spanish speaking residents were informed of the benefits of a working smoke alarm in their homes.

In January 2008 the NAHF played a significant role in the semiannual IAFF "Buddy Mass" Human Relations Conference in New Orleans, LA. The IAFF continues to "Walk the Talk." As the people of this great nation continue to embrace their differences, and as the face of America changes, so does the fire service. IAFF General President Harold Shaitberger continues to lead the charge in bringing all IAFF members together for a more inclusive and united Fire Service.

March 2008 was one of our busiest months. Several members of the NAHF Executive Board met with the NFPA Public Education Staff and President and CEO James M. Shannon at the NFPA Headquarters Quincy, MA. We reviewed and revised our MOA and look forward to enhancing our great partnership. While in the Boston area we also met with the President of Boston Local 718, Ed Kelly, and several of their Hispanic members. We shared some productive dialogue and are optimistic of establishing a new chapter in Boston. In another initiative, the NAHF was one of the first organizations to support the USFA Safe Cigarette Campaign. Exec VP Raul Castillo addressed the Spanish speaking audience across the country from Washington DC. His bilingual message informed Hispanics across the United States about the fire dangers of cigarette smoking. Finally, the NAHF actively participated in the Vision 20/20 initiative in Washington, D.C. to develop the fire service's strategic plan for Public Education and Fire Prevention programs.

In April 2008 the NAHF introduced a resolution to the Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI) encouraging all emergency responders to track language needs during emergency responses. In our nation's capital, Washington DC, the CFSI approved our resolution unanimously. This marked the emergence of the Hispanic Firefighter voice in Fire Service politics.

In May the NAHF partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Throughout the country our chapters were the catalyst behind many cities proclaiming May 25 as National Missing Children's Day.

In the early part of the summer I had the opportunity to network with State Fire Marshals and Life Safety Educators from across the country and around the world at the NFPA World Safety Expo in Las Vegas NV. In the middle of summer our Ambassador to International Affairs, Sal Morales, and I traveled to Miami to meet with the board of directors of the NFPA Latin American Section. We had a great meeting and then discussed the possibilities of a joint venture, hosting the 2009 NAHF Conference in Miami, Florida.

In early August the NAHF scheduled a strategic planning session in Camp Connell, CA. The Executive Board spent an extended weekend in the California Sierra Nevada Mountains. We enjoyed the serene, tranquil environment, honored our families, affirmed our Mission and Goals, and reinforced our commitment to serve for the greater good of the NAHF and its members.

Mid-August marked the debut of the NAHF Chiefs Caucus. During the IAFC-FRI Expo in Denver CO, the inaugural Chairman, Deputy Chief Jesus Burciaga of LA County Fire delivered a moving keynote message to those who attended the diversity luncheon. A reception by the Hispanic Chief Officers Caucus was hosted by Total FireGroup Director John Price at the Rodizio Steak House in Downtown Denver. I have never seen so many Hispanic Chief Officers together in one room networking, sharing best practices and mentoring aspiring chief officers. I'd like to personally thank John and Total FireGroup for their tremendous support. I also had my annual meeting with the Superintendent of the National Fire Academy Dr. Denis Oneal. Although little progress has been made, NAHF continues to work to increase the diversity of Firefighters attending on campus sessions at the NFA. Change is not easy, but is inevitable. I look forward to continuing to work with Dr Oneal and will support his efforts to increase diversity at the National Fire Academy. Let's hope some of the change taking place with our new Obama administration will find its way to Emmitsburg Maryland.

September was an epoch month for the NAHF. Hundreds of our members gathered together in Phoenix Arizona for our 13th Annual NAHF International Training Conference. From the opening ceremonies with Arizona Governor (and newly appointed Director of Homeland Security) Janet Nopalitano, to the welcoming by Phoenix Fire Chief Bobby Khan and Local 493 Union President Pete Gorraiz at the Bombero Ball, it was an unforgettable experience. The evening was capped off with a tribute to Chief Mario Trevino, one of the most successful and renowned Hispanic Fire Chiefs in the country. The NAHF will honor Chief Trevino by naming our newly proposed Mario Trevino Chief Officers Institute in Austin, TX. The Institute will provide Hispanic officers with leadership training, mentoring and the ability to attain promotional certifications for Fire Chief opportunities. As the NAHF learned about Chief Trevino's battle with throat cancer we could think of no better way to acknowledge his contributions than to name the institute in his honor. We send Chief Trevino our prayers and wishes for a speedy recovery.

Now that the presidential election is over and the buzz has settled (a little bit), we can look to the future with optimism and hope. As our new president pursues ways to reinvent and heal our country and economy, we must also engage in similar campaigns and initiatives that will affect the fire service. We must keep our eyes and ears wide open and identify any opportunity that will support or enable us to get closer to our goals and objectives. I know our members give much of their time and resources to the less fortunate, but if we are to be part of the healing solution, we must be prepared and willing to sacrifice more for the better good of others. We will need to do more with less. What I ask of you is not foreign, it's part our culture. It is the way we have been raised and it is the thread that keeps us together. Together, as Americans, there is nothing we cannot achieve. I engage 2009 with a full calendar, a Great Spirit, and belief that our best days are ahead us.

Alberto Olmos
President, National Association of Hispanic Firefighter

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