Halleran climbs ladder to President of Iowa Firefighter’s Association

For 214 years combined, the Halleran family has been fighting fire. Bill Halleran has dedicated himself to 26 of those years.  Serving on the Riverside Volunteer Fire Department for nine years, Halleran moved to Sigourney in 1999 and became a member of the Sigourney Volunteer Fire Department. Ten years ago, Halleran was named Chief and since has worked very hard on maintaining a knowledgeable and well trained team of firefighters for the community as well as assisting with surrounding fire departments.  Along with his dedicated team of fire fighters, Halleran has been able to apply for and receive grants, and purchase the equipment needed to help make sure that the department is well protected and trained in the use of the gear and equipment the department houses. During this time, Halleran also joined the Iowa Firefighters Association and campaigned for and was voted on the board.  Previously serving as Vice-President, on September 11, Halleran took the pledge to serve as the Iowa Firefighter’s Board President for a one-year term.

The Iowa Firefighters Association (I.F.A.) was organized in 1879. To date, there are approximately 15,500 volunteer and career firefighters from across Iowa that make up the membership organization that is dedicated to the improvement of Iowa’s Fire Service and protection of the general public through legislation, better training, minimum standards for apparatus and equipment, fire prevention, public relations and information. Members receive a monthly issue of the Iowa Firefighter, benefits of State and Federal legislative lobbying, networking opportunities through annual convention and meetings and the chance to help improve the Iowa Fire Service.

The Iowa Firefighter's Board consists of 6 members and an Executive Director. Anyone in the State can campaign and run for these positions and the voting then takes place at the September Board Meeting. Once voted on, a candidate will start out as fifth Vice President and progressively move one slot annually through the ranks until serving as President, and then a year as Past President. During his term of presidency, Halleran will be handling emails and concerns, conducting meetings with legislators, as well as hosting the mid- year banquet in April.

While in office, Halleran is most concentrated on recruitment and retention, cancer presumption and the Fireworks Bill. Halleran states, “The Fire Departments in Iowa are losing members rather rapidly. The Fire Service has changed dramatically and something needs addressed. We are meeting with our legislators to speak further on this.“ He hopes to help in developing incentives for firefighters who serve.  One of these would be through the Length Of Service Award Program (LOSAP) that would help with putting money aside for firefighters when they retire. The hope would be that incentives would help to retain adequate and trained firefighters throughout the state.

One difference between a career firefighter and a volunteer firefighter is the cancer law that protects them. With a career firefighter, the state of Iowa has cancer laws that protect them if they develop cancer that is tracked through baseline testing to their career as a fire fighter the cancer presumption would come to play. As a volunteer, this is currently not an option. Fires are very toxic with plastics, poisons, and gasses that all add up and can harm you. It has become increasingly clear that the two routes of greatest concern for entry of carcinogens into the bodies of a firefighter are through the lungs: when firefighters do not wear or prematurely remove Self Contained Breathing Apparatuses (SCBA), especially during overhaul and dermal absorption, where toxicants are absorbed through the skin.

Lastly, Halleran will continue to oppose the Fireworks bill that is being propositioned to the state that would allow local jurisdiction to dictate if they will allow fireworks locally. Fireworks are known to be a contributing factor to fires, and the risk associated with fireworks is substantial. Homes, wooded & grassy areas, and even automobiles have become engulfed in flames because of fireworks. Fireworks have also been one of the leading causes of serious injuries that require emergency treatment in a hospital ER. Not only have fireworks been an issue with fire and EMS, but also if fireworks were to become legal, the Fire Chief would have to be in control of doing on site inspections and issuing permits.  With volunteer departments this poses to be a large problem with time constraints.

Halleran is excited to serve as the Iowa Firefighter’s Board President for the 2016-2017 term and is looking forward to bringing issues to legislation that pertain to departments throughout Keokuk County and the state of Iowa and encourages citizens to follow their local fire departments and express any concerns or offer suggestions and most of all to encourage and support the men and women who serve.