Brothers, Founding F.O.O.L.S.,
It is with no small amount of sadness that I write to inform you of the International E-Board’s firm decision to postpone the annual Convention until after January 2021. We are doing this for several reasons I’ve outlined here for you:
First and foremost, we are taking this decision in order to put our membership first, from the hosting chapter to those who are planning to attend. There is little confidence that we would be able to break even for the hosting chapter and those attending would of course be risking (some anyway) the potential loss of work on their return due to travel restrictions in their various home states. While we debated how many would likely have difficulties on returning home, I personally felt this was something the International could not compromise on.
Secondly, the host chapters meeting with us made it very clear that only training and hotel could be guaranteed, all bars and entertainment currently being limited capacity. It is not possible for the host chapters to “rent” entire bars for the event. Tim Bob assured the E-Board that had we not contacted him with postponement concerns, they would have asked us for a postponement as they’re unable to see a successful path forward for this year.
Thirdly, and perhaps of the greatest importance to the International itself, all other fire service venues, (with perhaps the exception of Curt Isakson’s and Firehouse Expo) have cancelled. While the F.O.O.L.S. are not known to be conformists, neither do we wish to be viewed as reckless with the reputations and safety of our membership. Politics and personal opinions aside about Covid, at this point it just would be poor form and we risk the hard won advance in reputation that we have earned as leaders in the hard working ranks of the fire service.
Therefore, with time pressing on the host chapters to make a decision to protect their agreements with the hotel and training venues, I asked the E-Board for a vote to postpone. This will allow those attending to take appropriate actions with their travel and time off, request a refund if desired and will give the host chapters time to re-plan the event (those who have paid can leave their registration fees and they will be credited to the new date). This will also allow the host chapters to meet the contract agreement with the hotel which would incur an enormous penalty if not met. We have guaranteed them the 2021 Convention and asked them to provide us the new date by August 31st, which will be announced as soon as we have it.
I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have. We have acted in the best interest of the entire organization and the vote was unanimous. While this is certainly not the beginning I had expected as the new president, it is not a responsibility I will shirk. While the E-Board is solidly behind me in this, I view it as my ultimate decision. I look forward to seeing all of you in Orlando, in 2021!
President, F.O.O.L.S. International
New Year 2020 President's Message
2020! A quarter century for the Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society! As the newly appointed President of the International E-Board, I wanted to send you all a New Year's greeting and thank those of you as well who have sent your encouragement and good will to the members of the board for the coming year. We will be introducing a few new things this year in social media, upgrading the Articles of Association and returning once again to the F.O.O.L.S. beginnings in Florida for the 2020 Convention in Orlando! Your 2020 E-Board is ready to do work and motivated to get it done!
But before we get too excited about the New Year, the other members of the E-board and I would like to look back at the past several years and thank the brother that shaped this new E-board, encouraged us to lend our skills to the task and really turned us loose to bring the organization to the point where it is ready to move ahead in the 2020's!
Richie Stack, was integral to the organization's transition from the Founder's leadership, to the present day. President of the Southside F.O.O.L.S., Richie was appointed to the E-board when the Founders stepped aside at the Seattle Convention in 2008. He has served as Secretary, Treasurer and as President. It is fair to say that the E-Board here today was shaped by his character, his leadership and his love of the F.O.O.L.S. He provided a stabilizing influence to the E-board over these years, helping the Society to find its place in a changing fire service, focusing the E-board's attention on such things as firefighter suicide, depression, supporting chapter success while also remaining true to the F.O.O.L.S. mission. Richie led the E-Board through consensus, listening to our individual opinions and concerns and ensuring that he had agreement before then shouldering the burden of the decision on himself. Once he led us in a decision, he made sure the responsibility was his to answer for. I will always admire him for that. Stack does not side step, he plows through!
Richie has been our friend, and as for me, my dear friend and mentor. It has not been easy for him to walk away from this, and certainly he did not have to. It is a testament to his leadership that he chose to move on, he felt it was time for change and that it was for him to make it. His presence in our company will be missed. We'll be looking for him at convention!
"Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" -- Proverbs 27:17
Your friend, your brother,
President, Fraternal Order of Leatherheads Society