CSFA President's Message
Are we leaving it better than we found it?
The phrase and rhetorical question in the headline is one many of us have heard regarding the responsibility of paying it forward, paying homage to the fire service, and remembering those who came before us. When I heard that as a kid in high school starting off as a volunteer firefighter and Fire Explorer, I took it to heart, and fortunately I had career firefighters who took me under their wing to teach me the fundamentals that made the fire service thrive for decades. There are so many examples we have hopefully witnessed over the years of people who truly did leave it better than they found it. Can we say the same thing about our current era? Are we ensuring that firefighters who are early in their careers understand the importance of keeping this fundamental principle alive?
It’s important to recognize that our workforce, both career and volunteer, come from many different backgrounds and customs. We cannot assume that everyone understands the concept of paying it forward, and why mentorship at all levels is critical. We have an opportunity to educate and mentor our workforce regarding the importance of being engaged, having a voice, and paying it forward. There are several examples of making assumptions about our new generation without context, or an understanding of people’s perspectives. Instead of mocking those members that don’t possess certain skills or abilities, why don’t we teach them? Instead of spreading rumors or engaging in hazing, why don’t we ask our members about their upbringing and to what they were or weren’t exposed?
I never thought I’d see a time when the fire service was struggling to recruit and fill vacancies. This is not unique to one type of agency, but instead is impacting small rural areas, mid-sized departments, and metro departments. Most of us don’t have the time to study why this is happening. We are tasked with the duty of ensuring we staff our departments and meet the mission, and expectations of our residents. CSFA is taking an active role in hosting statewide recruitment and retention workshops, and collaborating with organizations on short term and long term solutions to address this new phenomenon.
Part of “leaving it better than we found it” is taking a leadership role in education, training, and mentorship for the entire California fire service. Since January of 2023 CSFA has hit the ground running with hosting and participating in many events throughout the state. I have worked with our CSFA leadership and marketing team to participate at the CSFA Training Academy in Williams, CFPI in Santa Barbara, FDAC in Napa, Training Officer’s Symposium in Fresno, California Mutual Aid Summit and FIRESCOPE in Ventura, and of course we’re preparing for CTEX at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula.
We can’t do it alone and I appreciate all of you who are mentoring, coaching, and inspiring current and future fire service professionals. Our membership will continue to grow one member at a time by sharing with people the positive direction CSFA is heading, and lowering the price of training and educational opportunities. Our CTEX event is one example of our passion and commitment to leave it better than we found it. We will continue to move forward as a team of engaged professionals that represent fire service agencies across our vast state.
Stay well, and take the time to pass on fire service traditions that support positive growth, enhanced culture, and a sustainable future.
Fire Chief, Eddie Sell
Hemet Fire Department, CSFA President