Greetings from Mark Whiteside our Vice President at Large.
Through these unprecedented times, it is an honor and a privilege to once again serve the Firefighters of the State of Mississippi as your Vice President at Large. I continue to be excited as we grow and expand! The 2021 Summer Conference is turning out to be like no other we have ever experienced.
TO GROW OR NOT TO GROW, IS OUR DECISION…. So, OK, let’s just put it out there like it is! Our organization has surpassed the 3,000 member mark! Now it is up to us as a group to decide do we want to increase, decrease, or stagnate our level of involvement? We have seen good times and bad in our organization, and we are seeing a bond and togetherness that has been lacking in previous years. To blame would be nothing more than looking in the mirror and accepting responsibility for our own actions, or the lack there of. I have been a member of the MFFA since 1993, with a couple of years where for some reason I wasn’t. I am ashamed to say this, I really am, but until 2008, I had no idea what we as an organization had to offer or were about. I shake my head in disbelief, and confusion as to why I was not involved, and then the light bulb goes off! NOBODY EVER TOOK THE TIME TO TELL ME! Now that I got that off my chest, how many more out there are sitting there saying the same thing? How many firefighters are we missing because we don’t recruit, inform, involve, explain, and welcome into our world? To grow is not a hard goal to achieve my brothers and sisters. There are so many out there looking to be a part of us, all we have to do is open our arms, and invite them in. I have learned that if we talk about what we love, others listen and want to get involved. I have heard this more than once from people when I promote the MFFA “we are just a small volunteer department”. I say, “Well OK, so what does that have to do with anything?” Then I hear them tell me they had no idea that we welcomed volunteer, industrial, and paid firefighters as well. We as a group need to take this wall of “volunteer vs paid” and knock it down. I love to say this when I hear the separation of volunteers and paid “when we fight fire, the fire NEVER says whoa, wait a minute, that is a paid person, don’t go after them, go after the volunteer!” Fire doesn’t care what our status is, it will treat us all the same, so why don’t we do the same? Notice I said volunteer and paid, not volunteer and career. I know a lot of volunteers that have made a career out of firefighting, they just don’t receive a salary. All a volunteer wants in return is respect. We are at a place where we can join forces and make a difference on the Local, State, and Federal levels. What we have to do is show a unity that has earned respect. We should be to the point where any elected individual says “the MFFA, and MFCA has a lot of members, and that means a lot of votes, we need to work with them, we need THEIR support”. ARE YOU WITH ME?? Promote, invite, recruit, and suggest that each person you meet knows what we have to offer as an organization. I am proud to be a part of the Mississippi Firefighter’s Association, are you? This also spreads across to the MS Fire Chief’s Association. Both associations will benefit from a unified and solidified front when it comes to the fire services in our state. We can do great things together. We can achieve new heights, new goals, and prosper as individual groups working together. We need you, you need us. Get the picture? I can’t do it alone, you can’t do it alone, but together WE can.
Mark K. Whiteside
Chief; New Albany Fire/Rescue
Volunteer Firefighter; North Haven Volunteer Fire Dept.
Adjunct Instructor; Mississippi State Fire Academy
662-534-1000 New Albany Station 1