That's the rationale for hosting the annual Illinois Fire Service Home Day events, says Paul Darley, president and CEO of W.S. Darley & Co., who just last week served as chairman of the seventh annual event.
Held at the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System's
(MABAS) Readiness Center
in Wheeling, Ill., the event was attended by more than 150 people including state and federal lawmakers and many of their staff members.
"It's critically important for us to have legislators who can mobilize very quickly when an issue arises," said Darley who has been the chairman of each of the annual events.
"When an issue comes up, we have 100 fire chiefs and the ears of Congressmen and staffers to react."
Too often, the government moves to cut funding for programs like the Federal Emergency Management (FEMA) FireAct and SAFER grant programs without fully realizing the effects such actions might have on firefighters and the fire service, Darley said.
"Through events like this, we can mobilize with one voice," Darley
During the Illinois Home Day, 13 vendors of fire service-related goods were on hand to show lawmakers and their staffs items they make and how they are used in firefighting and rescue work, Darley
said, noting it gives legislators the opportunity to truly see what the equipment does.
said by exposing lawmakers to the fire service, it makes the equipment and the people who use it real and, perhaps makes them pause when they consider legislation that may cut fire service grants and funding.
"They realize there are constituents who might be affected by their actions," Darley
For last week's event, U.S.
Congressman Peter Roskam, a Republican representing the Sixth District of Illinois, was the keynote speaker, according to Darley, who said Roskam is also a member of the Congressional Fire Service Caucus.
"We had an incredibly successful day," Darley
said, commenting that planning for the eighth annual Home Day event is already underway.
said next year, attendees will be given a firefighting experience and use much of the equipment firefighters use daily.