Two weeks ago, Captain Wines and I headed out for Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers has become our first stop on our way to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Memorial Weekend each year. We visit the site to witness the NFFF wreath laying at the site.
This event is also the starting point of my work for the NFFF during the weekend. I am the team leader for social media content for the NFFF during the weekend.
I knew things would be different this year. The National Emergency Training Center (NETC) was closed due to the Government shutdown. The NETC is where the National Fire Academy (NFA) is, as well as the NFFF Memorial. The site, buildings, and other resources are utilized during the weekend by the Foundation Team.
The Foundation Team is comprised of hundreds of volunteers from across the Nation who converge at the NETC each year to ensure that the Survivors (family, fellow firefighters, and friends of our Fallen Brothers and Sisters) have the best experience possible while at the Memorial.
The Foundation Team is run like a large scale incident utilizing NIMS. It is really pretty awesome how they pull it off each year. The Incident Commander is Chief John McGrath (Raleigh).
This year was very different. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Daughters of Charity opened their doors to us. They are located right next to the NETC. We used their Basilica for our Candlelight Service on Saturday night.
The Foundation Team, Survivors, and others were spread out between Frederick County, Howard County, and Gettysburg.
Some of the local departments who really stepped up to help out were Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Frederick County Fire and Rescue, and Emmitsburg Fire Department.
Hanover Fire & EMS also stepped up in a way that really helped out my team. As I told you that I head up the social media team and work directly for Dave Statter during the weekend. Dave heads up Production and Media. Hanover brought their Mobile Command Post with them and it was used for the social media team.
This year, I had the best team possible. The team included Mike Legeros (link), Doug Walton (Howard County), Bill Delaney (Montgomery County), Bill Carey (Firefighter Nation), and Mike Schon who was helping out with just about everything.
My team works behind the scenes. The photographers can be seen at times, but I was in the command bus for the most part taking care of Facebook updates and photos. Bill Delaney did an awesome job with Twitter this year. We had neglected it in the past, but Bill was able to pull off some pretty cool stuff including livestreaming the Survivor visit to the Memorial on Ustream.
Captain Wines helps Dave Statter with whatever they do. Wines could be seen everywhere helping out and making sure things worked out right. You can read about his experience here.
The best part of the weekend was the Survivors being able to visit the Memorial despite the Government Shutdown.
The Foundation Team did an awesome job in getting the weekend planned and everything went very well. I think that if you were there for the first time, you might not have realized all of the changes that had to be made.
I cannot wait to be up there for next year.