By Phil Gerace
FAMA Director at Large
PennWell Corporation and Fire Apparatus & Emergency Equipment have asked the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association (FAMA) to place regular updates in the magazine throughout 2013. We thought it best to begin with some details about FAMA and the purpose of the articles.
What Is FAMA?
FAMA is the association for apparatus manufacturers and related apparatus equipment suppliers committed to enhancing the quality of the emergency service community through the manufacturing and selling of safe, efficient emergency response vehicles and equipment.
At the end of World War II, the wartime ban on manufacturing nonmilitary vehicles had left the fire service with a well-worn, inadequate fleet. Industry standards and apparatus designs reflected prewar thinking and technology. Standing at the threshold of a new era in design, production, and equipment technology, fire industry manufacturers realized that individual company resources were often not sufficient to improve the standards as well as solve industrywide concerns. Manufacturers were anxious to produce new equipment using postwar technology while working collectively to improve safety standards within the fire service. It was their desire to pool these ideas, experiences, and efforts that led to the creation of the Fire Truck Manufacturers’ Association-FAMA’s predecessor.
Today FAMA continues to be a nonprofit trade association with a goal of improving business conditions for its members and to advance and protect the interests of the entire fire and emergency services industry through effective and open communication. To accomplish this, FAMA members work closely with national and international organizations within the fire service and fire industry. Members help develop safety and performance standards, programs, and objectives for improving fire apparatus and equipment as well as fostering the highest possible industry standards.
FAMA also supports realistic and attainable standards in industry-related legislation and regulations. By networking within and outside the industry, FAMA has established an excellent working relationship with many government agencies. Members speak at seminars across the nation and have provided information at congressional and government hearings to support improved regulations related to the fire service and the safety of firefighters.
Although FAMA does not directly determine any standards, members serve on many committees of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and actively participate in developing NFPA standards that apply to fire apparatus and equipment. By working with the NFPA, FAMA members assist in the research and development of performance-based minimum standards related to the manufacture of fire apparatus and equipment. Throughout its history, FAMA has supported the research required for developing safer, better products.
FAMA and the Greater Fire Service
From the small group of manufacturers who established the organization in 1946, FAMA has grown to include hundreds of representatives from more than 125 member companies throughout the United States and Canada. Members meet as a group twice each year to promote the advancement of technology and safety in firefighting equipment. FAMA is unique in that its members honestly share information and are willing to openly discuss common issues to determine what can be accomplished, collectively, to best meet the needs of the fire service. This type of communication has allowed manufacturers and end users alike to enjoy the benefits of highly improved, more efficient, and safer equipment.
FAMA’s Technical Committee, formed in 1952, also meets twice each year. Members choose subcommittees of interest that work with numerous industry experts in recommending safe, practical solutions that assist the NFPA in the formation of minimum performance standards and assist the fire service with relevant, technical information.
Input from industry users is crucial to the continuing improvement of fire equipment. At regular roundtable discussions, FAMA members and forward-thinking fire chiefs share concerns and offer ideas about current equipment-how it is being used as well as what manufacturers could do to meet future needs of the fire and emergency response services.
In addition, FAMA’s Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) has developed an effective liaison with key people in Washington, D.C., and a good working relationship with the fire service. In 2005, FAMA partnered with the GAC of the Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association (FEMSA) to form a joint GAC for matters of common interest. The FAMA/FEMSA GAC has been extremely active and hosts annual “Hill Day” events for members of both associations in Washington, D.C. There is also a “sister” committee to the GAC-the Canadian Governmental Committee (CGC)-that is working toward building relationships with members of Parliament for the same reasons. These committees, and all FAMA and FEMSA members, work hard to support legislation important for the health, safety, and funding of our nation’s first responders-often in conjunction with other organizations like the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and Congressional Fire Services Institute (CFSI).
The “FAMA Forum” column moving forward will attempt to address issues that are important to the fire service. Some of these topics will look ahead at new technologies while other columns will share information regarding future requirements such as the new emission regulations for fire apparatus. Whatever the topic, be assured that it will be in line with FAMA’s goal to work cooperatively for the benefit of the fire service in the United States and Canada. For more information about FAMA, go to www.FAMA.org.
PHIL GERACE is a director at large for FAMA and will serve as its treasurer in 2013. He is currently the director of sales and marketing for KME and has been involved in the fire service for more than 20 years with roles in both firefighting and supplying apparatus.