Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association
Together We Make a Difference
Building on rich traditions that have shaped the organization since its founding in 1929, the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs’ Association has evolved into an active, powerful organization that works to beneﬁt the Wisconsin Fire and Emergency Service and Wisconsin’s Fire Oﬃcers. From leadership development to legislative advocacy, the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs Association provides the resources that its members need to succeed.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Wisconsin Fire Chiefs,
My fellow chiefs, we have finally made it through 2020. This year has been… unique… Not only did we have to deal with an unprecedented global pandemic, but we have had to contend with many other challenges such as racial equity, civil unrest, and serious unknowns about our nation’s economic future. 2020 changed everything and we have yet to see how the fire service, both career and volunteer, will be impacted.
Unfortunately, we are not out of the woods yet – Though we have made strides. We continue to practice social distancing, we wear masks to protect us and to help to stop the spread, we communicate and train virtually or in smaller groups of ten, and yes, the COVID-19 Vaccine has begun phased distribution in Wisconsin.
Our county health departments are now in Phase 1a of distribution which includes frontline health care workers as well as public safety personnel who have contact with COVID patients on a regular basis. Tier 1b will begin on January 18, 2021. This group includes Firefighters and Police Officers who are not necessarily directly involved as front line patient care providers, but are at great risk.
Interestingly, according to surveys taken by numerous departments, a percentage of our personnel are reluctant, skeptical, or opposed to taking a vaccine. There are many intelligent people of good conscience who support and believe the science on the vaccine and some who are opposed as well. It is reasonable to be skeptical of all things, but hopefully the increasing knowledge we gain from science will prevail and get us through this soon.
It is no surprise to me that we are divided on expectations, as well as how to deal with and recover from this pandemic, both collectively and individually. I can understand why some people are fearful and may feel the vaccine is too new or untested. They may feel that we don’t know or have a good enough sample size of what the long-term effects may be. While there are reasonable concerns regarding the uncertainty of the vaccine, it’s important to stick to the facts while we move forward as a country – despite the division in society. I have gotten the vaccine myself, and myself and others like me are praying that the people smarter than us got it right.
There is a lot to think about for leaders in the fire service. We are responsible for our communities and our families, but we also carry the burden of being concerned with the psychological effects on our own personnel. It is extremely important to recognize the impact 2020 may have had on our people being on the frontlines during a world-wide pandemic. There is no way we, as All-Hazards-Response-Personnel, can ignore the things we see every day, and we must realize the potential for adverse effects both seen and not-yet-realized.
I am confident in the men and women that make up this profession and our service. I know that we define resiliency and fortitude every day and that we will continue to redefine what it means to take care of our responsibilities and our calling to serve. I am hopeful for 2021 and to see how we will rise to meet the challenges placed in front of us. I can’t say that it’s going to be fun… but I am sure it will be interesting.