Columbus Fire Chief Ryan Gray and Capt. Eric Kluever were among those who recently got to hear from the president, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security and other high-ranking officials about their field.
The Columbus firefighters earlier this month took part in the “U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit on Fire Prevention and Control: State of Science,” in Emmitsburg, Maryland. The summit, which kicked off the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week, featured presentations from the country's most prominent fire service leaders and researchers for reporters, the public, the fire service, and local, state and national policymakers who want a better understanding of the challenges and recommended solutions to the critical fire problem in America.
“This was a great place to learn about things going on across the country," Gray said. "We want to get outside of the Columbus bubble and expose ourselves to different things, other processes and see what we can bring back."
(Columbus Fire Chief Ryan Gray snapped this photo of several U.S. high-ranking officials who spoke at the U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit on Fire Prevention and Control: State of Science, in Emmitsburg, Maryland.)
Among those who spoke were Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; Homeland Security Advisor Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; Caitlin Durkovich, special assistant to the president and deputy Homeland Security advisor for resilience and response; U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell; and President Joe Biden. The latter was originally scheduled to speak in person but ended up video conferencing into the conference due to his obligations with the ongoing crisis in the Middle East.
“That was kind of cool,” Kluever said of Biden’s video call. “It was a neat experience to just be around all of those leaders in the fire service industry – there were lots of brass there. For me, it was neat to be included with all those guys and hear that the entire country basically has the same problems as we do. Everybody is dealing with the same things.”
Throughout the summit, Columbus firefighters got to hear presentations from high-ranking officials while discussing important topics related to the fire service field. Among them included structure fire trends and human effects; climate change impact on heat, emergency medical services (EMS) innovation, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the ongoing opioid crisis; firefighting and cancer risks; micromobility and regulation; national changes as far as bills being adopted; and whole blood in the field.
“I’ve never been a part of something involving this many high-level leaders, so just having the opportunity to talk with them, interact with them, and more importantly, interact with peers from across the country and talk about problems we’ve experienced, how they’re dealing with them compared to how we’re dealing with them, was a great experience,” Gray said. “It was great to see how far the fire service industry has come in just the last 10 years as far as these topics.”
Under Gray’s leadership, all CFD officials have had opportunities to attend various trainings, whether in Nebraska or other states. Kluever said he appreciates having the chance to learn and grow in his profession.
Gray said it’s intentional to have the entire department participate in various trainings. He said he wants everyone to have the chance to evolve and improve, noting it’s how the department better serves its community.
“It’s invaluable,” the fire chief said.
Copyright © 2023 City of Columbus