F.O.O.L.S. International

Spring 2019 Newsletter

F.O.O.L.S. International President


Hello to my fellow brother and sisters F.O.O.L.S. I hope each and every one of you and a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.


I will try to keep this short but sweet well sweet as I can possibly be. What makes the F.O.O.L.S. great is us our members. The best thing we can do as an organization is to look out for each other. Not just the members of your chapters, BUT EVERY MEMBER. The member of both the F.O.O.L.S. organization and well as the members of the fire service, OUR FIRE SERVICE. THE AMERICAN FIRE SERVICE!


F.O.O.L.S. International’s E-Board has and continues to learn more about Mental Health and Wellness by attending classes and conferences. So we can better understand how to help one another. We now have a F.O.O.L.S. Chaplin available to all of our members and their families for direction and guidance. There are various links on the web site and other resources available for our members. So please inform your members about Father Jim and these resources. 


FDIC is right around the corner April 8ththru 13thand as always the Indy Metro F.O.O.L.S. will be hosting a Brotherhood bash we hope to see you there.  The F.O.O.L.S. Convention is September 16-19, 2019 hosted by the NoCo F.O.O.L.S. in Colorado. The NoCo F.O.O.L.S. had the vision to end the convention just in time for members to make the 33rdIAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Service. So for those who have never been to the convention and or the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial. So we all have a chance to attend both what a great opportunity.


Lastly, if you or anyone from your chapter has a question or any issues please don’t hesitate to call or email us.  We are always here for you.


Rich Stack

F.O.O.L.S. International President

Member of SouthSide F.O.O.L.S., Chicago



F.O.O.L.S. International Vice President 


Currently looking at several options for the future of our merchandising. Looking at vendors, as well as inventory and the future of inventory management. Shipping of the merchandise is very costly and as of late not very productive. Convention sales this year were low which in turn has limited our capability to order merchandise to replenish our inventory. 


If you have merchandise ideas please let us know.

Thank you,


Bob Faas

F.O.O.L.S. International Vice President

Member of Central Maryland F.O.O.L.S., West Virginia



F.O.O.L.S. InternationalSecretary 


The treasurer, Chris and I, have spent the past several months getting a new database up to speed switching over from the enormous Excel file we had been operating with to an actual database capable of managing our information growth.  And the F.O.O.L.S. have grown.  We continue to take in new chapters and just as important, we see old chapters renewing themselves and coming back to life.  If you find yourself among these and are dealing with the problems of creating or managing an e-board, a chapter fund, membership troubles, etc., these are things Chris and I are specifically able to help you with.  One of the tools you have available that can save you a great deal of backtracking and avoid difficulties down the road is our Articles of Association, which you adopt by requesting an affiliation.  


ALL Chapters are to adopt the International Articles.  Our most recent update was last year in 2017 and we have a few items we are tweaking all the time to improve its usability and utility for our membership.  The articles cover everything for the general function and operation of your chapter, logo and copyright info, dues and fees, latest options for submission of membership applications and just as importantly, can be tailored to fit your chapter’s particular desires for E-board structure, chapter dues required attendance for members, etc.  You can find the “Chapter Specific” guidelines on our website under “Resources” at the link:  https://www.foolsinternational.com/content/forms.  This provides a few links to help you in chapter administration.  You can also contact Chris and me for help with this. The big message is, know your Articles, and minimize issues down the road by laying a good foundation and keeping your administration up to date.  


Ben Fleagle 

F.O.O.L.S. International Secretary  

Member of Farthest North F.O.O.L.S., Alaska 


F.O.O.L.S. International Treasurer


Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a wonderful time with family and friends over the holidays.


If you haven’t paid your 2018 chapter dues, please let me know so I can get a new invoice out to your chapter’s treasurer. Right now, we’re just under 50% of our active chapters that have paid.  Invoices went out November 1.  If your chapter didn’t receive one, please contact me to make sure we have accurate contact information for your E-Board.


My term as Treasurer will be up soon.  I’m happy to keep on in my current position, but if you or someone you know is interested in it, please contact the President to let him know.  More on that will come out via the website and social media as the time draws near.


The new membership database is moving along nicely.  There have been a few stumbling blocks along the way, but Ben and I are finally getting the hang of it.  In the long run, the database will make us more efficient and hopefully help us process requests and applications a bit faster. If your chapter requires a copy of the new PDF application, please let me know and I can get one made up and out to an authorized representative of your E-Board.  PDF applications certainly make it easier to process new applications. 


As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line at treasurer@foolsinternational.com.


Be safe & be well,

Chris Bednarek

F.O.O.L.S. International Treasurer

Member of SouthSide F.O.O.L.S., Chicago



F.O.O.L.S. International Training Chair


Brother / Sisters…I hope this message finds you all healthy and well.


Wow!! Another year has flown by in what seems like weeks, not 12 months. As 2018 comes to a close, I have been reflecting on my years as a F.O.O.L.S. member. It seems like everything started only a few years ago. My 18 years as a FOOL has been quite memorable. The best has been the countless of other likeminded brothers/sisters I have met at training conferences and our own convention. Next to training, networking has been a big part of my F.O.O.L.S. experience.


The F.O.O.L.S. have some of the best instructors in our Nation’s fire service. We are not lacking in talent or training. Today, there are a multitude of conferences hosted and/or ran by F.O.O.L.S. Chapters. In the Northwest, we have the Firemanship Conference, hosted by the First Whip FOOLS. This conference is held in the Portland (OR) in the early part of the year. It is a charity event with the funds going to the Son’s of the Flag. Then way south is the Work Conference hosted by the Lone Star FOOLS, another conference raising funds for a charity. In the past, it has been held in the spring. It sounds like they will be moving this conference to sometime in the fall. On the east coast is the Oath Keepers Conference, which is hosted by the Northern Ohio FOOLS and several other chapters from across the nation. This conference is in the Ohio area and is also held in the fall. This is only three of numerous F.O.O.L.S. organized training events that occurred this past year. I am proud to say our efforts are changing a nation of firefighters each year.


Many of our chapters are hosting regular training events. As a reminder, chapters should be completing an “After Action Report” following any organized training. The information provided in the “After Action Report” helps us: (a) see which chapters are active; (b) track the types of training being conducted by our members; (c) helps us appraise the instructors being used for F.O.O.L.S. training. Please let us know what you are doing. Completing the After Action Report literally takes a few minutes. All reports from the website are forwarded directly to me. It’s simple…visit the International’s website (Training tab) to complete the online form. In 2018, we received 61 reports from only 13% of the total number of chapters in our organization. Roughly 3,500 firefighters were trained. I know these numbers are much higher than what is currently represented. So, please complete these reports.


As your Educational/Training Trustee, I am committed to helping you achieve your training goal(s). If you are looking for ideas on a training event or need guidance in hosting an event, please feel free to contact me. As you read above, training is an essential part of our organization. Also, if your chapter is interested in hosting one of our Fire Engineering Blog-Talk shows, I will have the 2019 schedule posted up on Facebook in January sometime. Contact me and I will work with you to get your chapter on the show.

Remember…aggressive is not a negative term. Be smart, keep training, and share what you have learned with others.




Robbie Fisher

F.O.O.L.S. International Training Chair

Member of Puget Sound F.O.O.L.S., Seattle



F.O.O.L.S. International Public Relations Chair




2018 WHAT A YEAR, let’s see 2018 Convention in Seattle was pretty awesome, for me personally the drive up to Seattle and back the Great STATE of TEXAS was not only one of the high but the low parts of the trip (the low part was the LONG trip home).   One of the things we noticed this year during the awards nominations was the chapters that are doing training or benefits or social events, they were the same 10-12 chapters that are letting Robbie and I know.  What I found in searching through the interweb was that there were a ton more chapters out there doing some cool stuff and not getting the recognition that they deserved.  SO what I need from those chapters is for them to email myself for any event they have going on as well as myself and Robbie Fisher for training events, you can email me at webmaster@foolsinternational.com  and Robbie at education@foolsinternational.com.  OR if you don’t want to email us TAG us (personal or the Internationals social media pages) on social media we are on all of them Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. WHY well for a few reasons, #1 so we can help make your event a success, #2 when it comes time for the Annual awards we have a list of who did what when and where. 


Glad to see that we have new chapters starting up and old ones getting back in the game. Chris and Ben have been tirelessly working on a Database (not to steal their thunder) but once it is completed and running flawlessly, I will be reworking the Locate a Chapter section of the website.  We will be removing folded chapters and ensuring the new ones are on there.  So please go on there and see if your chapter is on there or if the information is correct, email, website etc... Let me know via email what changes are needed.  The cool thing about the F.O.O.L.S. is we are spread all over this great rock and some of us only get to see each other a few times a year.  We see each other at training events or benefits or social events.  SO again, this year I am challenging you all to take pictures.  Take pictures of you hanging out with your Brothers and Sisters, take pictures of training events, benefits.  Take pictures of your chapter meetings.  Then send me a few of them so we can throw them up on the Interweb. 


Stay tuned to our website, it will be updated early 2019. If you do not follow us on our social media pages here is your chance.  Facebook (@foolsinternational), Twitter (Twitter handle @FOOLS_Intl) and Instagram (@f.o.o.l.s. International.com).  Also, if you have not been to our YouTube page check it out. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi9yx4IHAcAxlngTCL50BqQ   IF anyone has a training video or presentation that focuses on your chapter or the F.O.O.L.S., in general, send me the video we will upload it to the YouTube channel, use it and spread the knowledge.  Thank you all for everything you do for the F.O.O.L.S. your community, and your department.


Fraternally yours,


Texas Rob

F.O.O.L.S. International Web-Master

Member Alamo Area F.O.O.L.S., Texas



F.O.O.L.S. International Chaplin


Firehouse Family Faith


I was a young priest and had just walked into the firehouse.  The firefighters, one of which was my dad, a volunteer, were just returning from a tough run. Sweat was running down their faces, and as dad came off the step of the truck, I saw he was full of black soot. They all began to clean up, share stories and rehash the call. The sweat on their faces and the lingering smell of smoke turned my head that has stayed with me to this day.

I’m the son of a Leatherhead.  My dad’s helmet that he wore for over 20 years before he retired is now worn and tattered and all beat up.  It no longer sits on his head.  Instead, it now sits in a place of honor.  Growing up, the firehouse was a second home to me.  On my daily walk home from school and probably as a way to avoid homework, I would stop by to visit the guys. “Hey Jim,” they’d ask, “You gonna be firemen like us when you grow up?”  Later I would find that a plastic collar would be more suitable to me than a leather helmet.  But what a calling that would have been!


Now as a priest, who is invited daily into the lives of first responders firefighters/EMT’s together with their families, my childhood memories return, and I find myself honored to be of service.

This will be my 5th year being at FDIC and every time I come back – I feel I could retire quickly – if only they would let me open up a confessional and charge 5 bucks for absolution, for the past years firehouse activities. I’m sure the line would reach out to the front of the convention hall. 


Within the firehouse, you are organized like armed service personnel, but your war is not against people. The enemies are fire, destruction, disaster, and human suffering. As in combat, you eat together, sleep together, train together, and brave danger together.  As in combat, you must be able to rely on one another when things go wrong.  And, as in combat, you must be able to handle injury and death. These skills are honed into unconscious habits – until job requirements and the way of life are as if they were intertwined into one.  When we speak of a “baptism of fire” were not using a metaphor.  


As FDIC 2019 approaches, Paul Combs will share his gifts of heart to hand thru illustrations. Presentations will be listened to. Old friends will be found and a new friend will be developed. Awards will be given and received.  Bands and drill teams will bring in flags and the bell will ring, reminding us of those who have passed.  The FDIC 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb that many are now training for is why we gather. 

It’s no wonder our culture observes the educational ritual of the visit to the firehouse. It’s no wonder that when we ask children what they want to be when they grow up, we often get the answer: “Firefighter!”  You here and now are a nearly ideal form of human community.  No wonder we come to conventions such as this. As the Chaplain for the F.O.O.L.S. international, It’s a family reunion!   


Let us pray from Heart to Heart! 


"In the grips of death we depend on our sisters & brothers, through smoke and fire we protect each other... Our calling is clear we shall not wander, when protecting life it’s death before dishonor... And here and now we raise our glass, a toast to the fallen heroes of the past. Tradition, Brotherhood, Duty Forever, for this could be our last drink together! Slainte!"


Father James E. Swarthout 

F.O.O.L.S. International Chaplin