For the first time in over 22 years you all don’t have to suffer through my normal “Where There’s Smoke...” article - but there’s a catch. For over 22 years I have either been your Secretary or 1st Vice President. In March, though, Kevin Flory stepped down as our President. Kevin has represented us well as Northeast Trustee, Vice President, and as President. He has given a lot of years of his life to our association and we owe him an immense amount of gratitude for all of his time serving the firefighters of Kansas. Now the bad news is that your past 1st Vice President became the President when Kevin left - and that is me! While I have completely and truly enjoyed my service on the executive committee, the office of President was never one that I aspired to. Kevin’s shoes and the shoes of all of our past presidents are going to be hard to fill. I will try my best to not disappoint you.
We had a very successful and well attended conference in Hays in April. Next year's conference will be back at the Kansas Star in Mulvane - let’s continue to build on the momentum we have now. Our mission is so important - to protect the health and safety of our firefighters and to train them in the skills that they need to serve our communities. In many of our neighboring states, the President is President for a year and then moves on. I anticipate being President for no more than a year and then attempting to fill a different position on the board. I am still not tired of what we do or going to the regional schools.
During this one year period - and it will go fast - there are some things I want to accomplish. Your executive committee has already approved a number of items just in the past few days that will put us on the road to a healthy and robust association. First, we continue to improve our props for hands-on activities. We are in the process of upgrading our burn trailer, our breathing air capabilities at the regional schools, and our rescue vehicle. Second we are soliciting proposals from management companies that can help us enhance our ability to communicate with firefighters across Kansas. What that will look like is not completely known yet but will probably involve a company that can provide us with an executive leadership team. Stay tuned for developments in that regard. Third - and finally - we are trying to figure out new ways to provide essential training to our firefighters - in person training and remote as well.
The bottom line is that I am excited to lead this organization. We are going to do everything we can to promote the health & safety of our firefighters, to provide adequate retirement benefits to those covered by KPERS and KP & F, to train our firefighters so that they can professionally provide service to the people of their communities, and to provide whatever tools we can to assist fire departments in recruiting new firefighters as well as retaining their existing ones. Together we will make these strides and together we will all reap the benefits.
Steve Hirsch, President