NFFF Seal of Excellence Award for Rhode Island Association of Fire Chiefs

Chiefs fought bill exempting seat belt use for first responders.

The NFFF Seal of Excellence Award is presented to the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Association during their December meeting and holiday party. From left: Chief Ronald J. Siarnicki, executive director, NFFF; Chief Richard Susi, executive director, RIFCA; Chief Brian Jackvony, president, RIFCA; Victor Stagnaro, director of Fire Service Programs, NFFF; and Rick Mason, training and education coordinator, NFFF.

When the Rhode Island legislators passed a bill exempting emergency vehicle drivers from wearing seatbelts, the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Association (RIFCA) stood up for safety. The association sent Governor Lincoln Chaffee a clear message that the state’s fire chiefs believe those in public safety should be setting an example for the citizens. In addition, the chiefs told the governor the bill would make driving an emergency vehicle much more dangerous for firefighters, EMS workers and police.

RIFCA’s efforts convinced the governor to veto the bill. In recognition of their work, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation presented the association with the Seal of Excellence Award at their business meeting on December 19.

“For upholding the spirit of the Everyone Goes Home® program, drawing attention to the importance of safe practices at all times, and setting an outstanding example for other service organizations and citizens, we are pleased to present the Rhode Island Fire Chiefs Association with the Seal of Excellence Award,” said Chief Ronald Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

“Seatbelts save lives,” said Governor Chaffee when he vetoed the bill. “While I recognize the necessity for critical personnel to act quickly in the event of an emergency, I am concerned that what we may gain in response time may be lost in increased injuries to Rhode Island’s emergency responders.”