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This week, we dispel a rumor. Normally, I wouldn’t engage, however, according to some of our union officials, they’re hearing a lot of this on the floor, and apparently, it’s the talk of many in the Tucson area.
Rumor: Chief Freitag is leaving CAFMA to take the Golder Ranch job when his friend Randy retires next spring – or Chief Freitag is leaving to take the Tucson Fire Chief’s job.
Fact 1: I have not and will not be applying for the opening in Golder Ranch.
Fact 2: The Fire Chief of Tucson FD is a good friend and still has a long career ahead of him. Besides, Tucson politics and my beliefs do not exactly align – just say’n😉
My plan is to retire from CAFMA on Sept 3, 2030 as long as I don’t get fired first. The other caveat is that I must maintain my relevance to this organization, i.e. I do not want to become a roadblock to CAFMA’s continued success. That said, as long as I am relevant and not fired, I plan to be here for another eight years.
Some union representatives out of the greater Tucson area, namely Golder Ranch and Northwest, have talked to me about applying for the Golder spot over the last few years. I will tell you what I told them: Golder Ranch is an excellent organization doing really good things in a wonderful area. CAFMA is also an excellent organization doing really good things in a great area. To that end, unless the politics went sideways within CAFMA, I would have no reason to look for another position.
When I left the City of St. Charles Fire Department, I knew that my career aspirations would most likely not be met in the department. To this day, I still think fondly of the St. Charles Fire Department, but leaving was the right decision for me. I thought I would spend the remainder of my career with my last agency, the Cottleville Fire District. However, I became disenchanted with the direction the agency was headed and felt it was best if I found somewhere to work that better aligned with my values.
Now, I am with CAFMA. Things are headed in a good direction, as a collective we continue to be progressive, and there is a real sense of community. Have I considered leaving? Only when we went through the years of political hell. At the time, I was trying to decide how much more I could take, or what would happen if the board went south. Ultimately, we worked through everything and made great strides despite the outside negative noise.
It is interesting that I have heard people outside, and just a couple inside say that “I” have built an empire or kingdom. Below is the definition of the word empire – substitute the word kingdom if using in a negative context:
- the practice of obtaining more power, responsibility, or staff within an organization for the purposes of self-aggrandizement.
We have built CAFMA through collaborative efforts both internally and externally. The goal when we created CAFMA was to develop a more stable future for everyone employed within our agencies, create additional opportunities for our folks, and create a more sustainable/efficient operation for our tax payers. I think those that were here from the beginning can attest that we are in a better place today than we were in 2013.
When I think of empire-building, images of the Death Star from Star Wars pop in my head. I don’t believe anyone internally or externally believes we have built some sort of evil death star, hell bent on taking over the world. As an example, CAFMA remains an organization that consists of the two original agencies that created it.
We have no desire to take on any additional agencies unless one approaches us, and the partnership makes sense. We do, however, work to fill gaps in the system, which includes emergency transport.
One person does not constitute CAFMA. Rather CAFMA exists because of the collective – all of us. Our goal always has been, and continues to be, to develop the next generation of fire service leaders, be an innovative organization, and protect as well as promote our interests in the state. Better to be proactive rather than reactive. Prop 117 certainly caught us off guard years ago – we will not let that happen again.
Our involvement throughout the state as participants with the Arizona Training Committee, the RAC Committee, Arizona Fire Districts Association, Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, Arizona Fire Service Institute, Arizona Ambulance Association, Arizona Fire Marshals Association, Arizona L.A.S.T Team, the SECURIS Board, the Kairos Board, Prescott Valley Economic Development Foundation Board, Chamber groups, etc. are all in an effort to engage CAFMA as a partner. These groups, opportunities, and the work that goes along with being involved have had a significant impact on and for our organization.
What we have done as CAFMA is stay true to the vision we developed when we created the organization: “To be a progressive fire service leader in Arizona through leadership, cooperation, and innovation. “
Given all we have accomplished over the years, and all the opportunities that lie ahead for our us, I have zero desire to leave. So, to reiterate, I am not leaving for Golder Ranch or any other fire chiefs’ position, we are not building a kingdom or an empire, and we are not about any one person. However, we are doing our very best as a group to create an organization that is consistently striving to create opportunity, ensure organizational longevity, and always working to honor our vision. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
CAFMA has now introduced The CAFMA Connect Podcast! Get to know the personnel and stay connected to your local fire service agency. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast on their youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCshgJvK9iKOILA-Z3TEDvVQ.