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Contributions keep coming

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Former county administrator volunteers his time

By Carol A. Clark

Max Baker retired last December as Los Alamos County administrator, but his efforts in contributing to the community have continued.

Baker serves on the board of the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE), an organization that works in support of first responder excellence. His wife, Kath Baker, has been involved with the CPSE through the board members’ wives group.

Kath explained that Baker began his career making sure each municipality he was involved in would find which actions were most valued by the supporting organization and practice those behaviors daily. This is an important element of the CPSE and typically detailed in an organization’s accreditation process requirements, Kath said, adding that her husband emphasized this aspect throughout his

entire career.

“In Los Alamos, Max did so many more things, progressing to this organization where he is now part of the board of directors. It is a time-consuming, volunteering effort, but one that values his opinions and acts on his suggestions, so it is rewarding,” she said. “Plus, what could give more satisfaction than helping all types of communities understand and lift their first responder practices to the level of accreditation? Their service is not something we wish to need, but are so grateful for, if we ever need it.”

Kath added that she has enjoyed her time with the board member’s wives and considers it an honor to contribute and help her husband contribute in this great endeavor.

“It involves taxpayer’s dollars and is a very important necessity in communities’ support of first responders,” she said.

Baker and his wife attended the keynote speech for the annual CPSE 2010 Excellence Conference earlier his month in Orlando, Fla.

U.S. Fire Administrator Chief Kelvin Cochran was the speaker. Cochran brought greetings from President Barack Obama, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Director Craig Fugate to all the attendees. During his opening comments, Cochran recognized women in the fire service as part of National Women’s History Month.

He addressed the future of the U.S. Fire Administration by discussing the

mission of FEMA and USFA and eight strategic initiatives included in their strategic plan.

“The eight strategic initiatives included a couple of ideas that would be of special interest to us in Los Alamos because of our wildfire history. First, cross training,” Kath said. “When Cochran was Atlanta’s fire chief and a firefighter volunteered to help he would have to respond with, ‘you just don’t have the skills — a structural fire is very different from wildland fires.’ With the already understaffed, budget-cut forces and baby-boomer retirees and so few individuals skilled and ready to take over these demanding jobs, cross training is especially important.”

Cochran used the opportunity of his speech to highlight the role of the fire service and its leadership at all levels in the USFA mission and initiatives. He specifically challenged the industry to participate in the “Install, Inspect, Protect” program, involving ceiling water sprinklers.

Cochran also called on attendees and the industry to become engaged in the revision and improvement process for the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS).  He asked them to make a personal commitment to report to NFIRS and to ensure the quality and timeliness of the data.

It is critical to the fire services at the federal, state and local level to have access to accurate and contemporary data with which to tell their story, set critical priorities and above all, ensure the public is receiving the service it deserves, he said.

Cochran ended his presentation using the Preamble to the Constitution to remind everyone of the purpose and commitment required of U.S. citizens.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

“It was a stirring experience,” Kath said. “Chief Cochran is passionate and dedicated to serving the community and his mission is so vital.”