From the Chief’s Corner: Delivering a United Message...

Chief Alan Perdue

By Chief Alan Perdue (ret.), SBC Executive Director

Posted on June 7, 2023

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s (CFSI) 33rd Annual National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington, DC. During the event, which included more than 1500 of our Nation’s fire and emergency services leaders, I looked around at the immense and diverse group and thought this can’t happen without individuals committing to work together for a common cause. In fact, it was right there in this year’s event theme: “Delivering a United Message.”

I was recently included on a string of emails that encompassed a variety of individuals within our industry that contained some significant misinformation. The comments within those messages got me thinking about the Coalition and asking if our industry was “Delivering a United Message.” You see, throughout this journey we call life, each of us as individuals and organizations has different beliefs, thoughts, reasons for doing what we do, etc. And that’s okay. Rather than worrying about who is right or who is wrong, or who said or did what first, our focus should be on striving to become better at what we do. Again, we are on a journey, not a destination.

I can tell you from many years of experience in fire and emergency services that we often do not agree on every aspect of what we as individuals think is right. What I have learned over these years is that if we are not united, our accomplishments will be few. Imagine for a moment a group of emergency responders arriving at the scene of an incident and each of them going off in their own direction to do what they believe is the best action to take. The result would be total chaos, and because those emergency responders placed their individual beliefs above and beyond those of the team success was not fully achieved.

The same can be said of an organization like the Safer Buildings Coalition. Every individual and organization that becomes a part of something bigger than themselves does so for a variety of reasons. It may be for organizational, educational, inspirational, giving back or a multitude of other reasons. Regardless of the reason we must understand that we are becoming a member of something bigger than ourselves. In doing so, we must ensure we work collectively and collaboratively seeking first to understand before being understood.

I saw this play out during the recent SBC Tech & Policy Summit also held in Washington, DC. The event featured panel discussions with some of the brightest minds in our industry. At times, there were clear differences of opinion, but the panelists always maintained a respectful tone. The result: Robust, yet open and enlightening discussions about matters of great importance to our industry.

What I came away with from both recent events held in our Nation’s Capital was the fact that if we work out our differences and work together for the common good and arrive at a “United Message,” we truly can make a difference every day. As James Daly once said; “You can’t be distracted by the noise of misinformation.” As the journey continues, lets all do our part to make sure everyone Feels Safe Inside...

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