October 1, 2020
Hello Texas Firefighters!
I am sad to say this is my first blog post. As all of you know, it has been a very busy year. Who would have thought we would ever be facing the problems we have in the world now? Certainly, none of us. But, as firefighters and first responders, we adapt and overcome and learn to cope.
We are making plans for McAllen as we speak. While we know the convention did not work out for Lubbock, we appreciate all the survey responses sent into the board. All of us read and examined each one of them, discussed them in depth and really tried our best to make the right decision for the good of the Association. The decision was certainly not taken lightly. However, at the end of the day, to keep our membership safe and do our part to reduce the spread of COVID19, the difficult decision to cancel the 144th Convention had to be made. I want you to know, the entire Executive Board agreed to cancel, as difficult as it was. We knew in our hearts, and from the little we know about COVID19, this was the best for all of us. This was very difficult, as this had only been done twice in the history of the SFFMA. Once in 1918 and again in 1945…both as a result of World Wars. As a result of the cancellation, however, we were in limbo about how to elevate the officers and install a new 4th VP. After many conversations, research, and consultation with the Parliamentarian, the board did agree to remain in place and not elevate. We did not take this lightly at all, but we really had no precedent to guide the decision making process. Ultimately, the board decided to remain in place and proceed as normal as we could with the business of the association.
Your elected officers did not sit for long. We facilitated several ZOOM meetings to keep the business moving forward. We continued our usual work with the Austin office, our lobbyist, committee chairs as well as the districts, departments and individual members. Many of the questions before us centered around how to handle business and elections at the district level. The Executive Board explained our situation and helped guide the districts the best we could, explaining the whole time that this is new to everyone and no right answer exists. Many of the districts held ZOOM meetings and elevated their officers and even placed new officers in place if the race was uncontested. Those elections with more than one candidate were delayed and the officers stayed in place in most instances.
We have been busy establishing our legislative priorities. Make no mistake, the legislative session this year will look like no other anyone has ever seen. Committee meetings will be held but as it stands now, just limited number of people in the room together. This will make every effort tougher than it already is. We will make sure we are on top of all the issues and fight to keep what we have and will most likely struggle to gain anything new.
We have been seeing a few district meetings pop up. This is very exciting, and we are ready to hit the road to make those visits. North Texas District recently held their meeting and it was a complete success. They successfully held a good meeting, took care of business and were able to serve a meal, all while maintaining the proper social distancing to ensure safety. Great job! I also know Central and the Permian Basin have meetings scheduled in the next few weeks. I encourage all the districts to make every effort to hold some sort of meeting, be it in person or virtual. Please let one of the board members or the state office know of the date, time and location so that we may post it on the website and make plans to attend.
Speaking of website, you asked, and we listened! Meeting minutes are now posted, and we are working very hard to keep the committee rosters and the minutes section up to date. We are also working on different ways to improve the website and improve communications across the state.
We are making arrangements now for the planning conference in McAllen. As you know, Hidalgo County is considered a hot spot for COVID19 as of this writing. Some hospitals are reporting a greater than 20% COVID admission rate. This changes a lot of the dynamics surrounding the conference including who and how many can attend. Some still have travel restrictions in place (this was a major factor in the cancellation of Lubbock), and some venues are still limiting the number for gathering. So, we are working with the visitor center there and with Rio Grande Valley District to see what exactly this planning conference will look like. We WILL have a planning conference of some sort, but it may not look like it always has in the past. We are in different times. We may need to make concessions to the structure or makeup of the conference, to number of attendees, to the venue or even to the location of the actual meetings. We simply do not know yet.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for putting the trust and support into the Board. We are honored and proud to serve the firefighters of Texas and will do everything in our power to make sure YOU are represented in the right manner.
Last piece of advice:
Wash your hands
Cover your cough
Stay home if you are sick
Above all, stay safe.