“The ultimate role of a firefighter is to leave a mark on the system, not just a memory.” - Chief Ronny J. Coleman
On Monday, October 8th, 2018, I had the privilege of walking the aisles of the National Fire Heritage Center archives with Archivist Frank Schmersal and, I captured a glimpse of the rich history contained in this American fire service archive. From aisle to aisle, I listened to the oral history through the various stories from Archivist Schmersal. The National Fire Heritage Center archives contain more than 15,000 items of media, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, photographs and what I consider, treasures of the American fire service.
My journey through these archives was a journey through the history of the American fire service, and I thoroughly appreciate the rich history of our beloved fire service. After a few minutes with Archivist Schmersal, I realized that someone had to preserve these relics of the American fire service. After further reflection, I began to understand that it was a whole team of curators from the National Fire Heritage Center that contributed an immense amount of time and labor to this incredible archive.
During the Annual Meeting, I was appointed as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Fire Heritage Center. The appointment to the Board of Directors comes with the responsibility to carry on and preserve the rich history of the American fire service. Chief Ronny J. Coleman, the founding President of the National Fire Heritage Center, remarked that the creation of the National Fire Heritage Center is what he considers a highlight from his sixty-year career in the fire service. As I was listening to Chief Coleman eloquently describe this highlight of his career, the appointment to the Board of Directors for me is a highlight of my career.
Chief Coleman is leaving the fire service better than he initially found it through his leadership of the National Fire Heritage Center. Now it is up to the future generations of the fire service to accept the responsibility of preserving our American fire service history. Please help support the Mission of the National Fire Heritage Center.
"Preserving the written history of the American fire service."
National Fire Heritage Center: https://fireheritageusa.org
Chris Baker has over twelve years of experience in volunteer, combination, and career, fire departments in California. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and Associates of Science Degree in Fire Service Command, Company Officer. Chris is a California State Fire Training certified Fire Officer, Driver-Operator, Fire Instructor, and Lead Firefighter I Certification Evaluator. He is a Fire Science Instructor in the California Community Colleges System. Chris is a member of the California Fire Technology Directors’ Association and the California Training Officers Association. He served as a volunteer Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017 Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) for both hiring and recruitment/retention. Chris also served as a Peer Reviewer on the FY 2017/2018 Assistance to Firefighters Grants (AFG). He is a Volunteer Advocate Regional Manager, Region IX (CA, NV, AZ, HI) for the Everyone Goes Home Program through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. Chris also serves as a volunteer member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section serving in their staging area. He is a member of the Board of Directors for the National Fire Heritage Center located in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Chris is a National Fire Service Instructor teaching at notable fire conferences across the country. He is the co-host of the Fire Engineering: The Future Firefighter Podcast. Chris writes blog articles for My Firefighter Nation, Fire Rescue and Fire Engineering Magazines on mentoring the future generations of the fire service.
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