The Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI) was established in 1989 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan policy institute, designed to educate members of Congress about the needs and challenges of our nation’s fire and emergency services and to help them understand how the federal government can support the needs of first responders.
Members of Congress turn to CFSI for information on issues that address health and safety and the training and equipment needed for first responders to perform their duties. Whereas local government provides much of the funding for the fire and emergency services, the federal government through the AFG and SAFER programs and other programs contributes significant funding as well. The information CFSI shares with members of Congress increases their understanding of the federal role and how federal support can enhance the response capabilities of our local first responders. Therefore, Congress has the information they need when it comes time to vote on important public safety legislation.
Through FEMSA’s work with CFSI, the fire service industry plays an important role in CFSI’s mission of education on Capitol Hill. Each year in conjunction with CFSI’s annual Symposium and Dinner program, FEMSA members conduct meetings with their members on Capitol Hill to discuss how the AFG and SAFER grant programs provide economic benefits to their businesses while providing fire departments needed funding to address their equipment, staffing and training needs. Their Home Day program achieves similar results. Working not as business competitors but as a unified industry, FEMSA members can be credited with the continued support the fire service receives from our federal legislators.
The strength of CFSI is its National Advisory Committee (NAC). Composed of industry groups, fire service organizations, and professional associations including the leading fire service organizations in the country, the NAC provides a forum where these members can conduct discussions and develop consensus on important national fire and emergency services issues. Open to the public, the meetings are scheduled in the spring (the day after the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner) and fall of each year. The resolution process determines the issues that CFSI addresses on Capitol Hill. Funding for the United States Fire Administration and the AFG/SAFER grant programs, reallocation of spectrum for first responders, and greater involvement of first responders in disaster mitigation are examples of the types of issues the NAC has supported at recent meetings.