The National Association of Hispanic Firefighters has always empowered Hispanics to take on leadership roles within the fire service. Since our inception in 1995, we have been meeting our mission. Now we face new challenges within our membership—cancer, succession planning, and fiscal responsibility, to name a few.
During my past two years as your President, my goal was visibility within the walls of congress and government. We have succeeded. Reporters, congressional staff, and the White House have been seeking our input and cooperation. Yet, we still need to reach the goal line.
To help thwart some of the problems we face, in 2023, I pledge to raise one million dollars for our organization. This will entail my office asking corporations to support some of our goals for 2023 FINANCIALLY. It will also involve me taking a stand in the media about the injustices Hispanics face in our profession. Below are some of the goals that we need to support.
In 2018, Congress passed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which directed the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to develop a registry to study cancer among firefighters. This new law required the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create the National Firefighter Registry (NFR).
Today, the NFR is the LARGEST undertaking to reduce cancer risk among U.S. firefighters.
Firefighting is now the most dangerous profession on earth.
In 2022, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated the carcinogenicity of “Occupational Exposure as a Firefighter.” The study involved experts worldwide and concluded that Occupational Exposure as a Firefighter is CARCINOGENIC to humans. Furthermore, the IARC upgraded our profession from a Group 3 status to a Group 1 status-the highest standard for exposure to carcinogens, which means that firefighting is now the most dangerous profession on earth.
Therefore, our first task will be to ensure that we support all efforts by the NFR to help reduce cancer risks among firefighters.
Our second goal is to produce a new program called IDEAL. IDEAL has been a unique project after hearing about dozens of Hispanic firefighters facing racism and discrimination in their jobs. This new program will focus on creating a workshop that will teach firefighters about INCLUSION, DIVERSITY, EQUITY, ACCEPTANCE, AND LEADERSHIP. The entire seminar uses games that encourage participants to talk and create a dialogue using pictures. Additionally, the program will teach each participant how our thinking evolves and how it can affect how we see others. This will be an instructor-led course that we plan to launch by the end of 2023.
Our third goal is to produce a new program called Career Advancement Mentoring Program (CAMP). As we all know, mentoring is part of professional development, and mentoring helps the employee gain perspective on the ways of the organization. Mentoring also provides for career development and psychosocial support. In career development, the organization teaches the person about how to be successful in the organization. In Psychosocial support, the employee learns to network with others and outside the organization.
CAMP will be a 40-hour online mentoring program. The program will produce 40 videos. An expert in their field teaches each video. Each video will last from one hour to four hours. The program will mandate that a firefighter completes 40 hours of coursework before they receive a certificate of completion. Here are some of the videos we plan to develop.
- How to create an Individual Career Plan.
- How to write a resume for professional development.
- How to prepare for an oral interview.
- How to use social media at work.
- How to speak in public.
- How to get fired – What not to do!
- How to lead change in your organization
- Understanding policies and procedures
Our last goal will be to elevate our organization within the fire service. Traveling throughout the United States, I learned how organizations use strategy and tactics to make themselves visible. We must do the same if we are going to take a stand and become a voice in our communities. In the next few weeks, I will work with the board to create strategies. We need your help.
In closing, 2022 has been an excellent year for the National. We expect 2023 will be even better and lead our organization to new heights. I appreciate your support, and I look forward to working with each of you in 2023.