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MSFCA Events through 2026
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MSFCA Events through 2026
Jennifer Rzepka, CAE, MSFCA Executive Director


Big decisions were made at the April 13 Board meeting regarding MSFCA educational events. 

FITOAM is now part of the Education Committee 
The leadership of the Fire Instructors and Training Officers Association of Minnesota (FITOAM), formerly a stand-alone organization which became a section of MSFCA in 2016, has always been committed to organizing their efforts in a way they can maintain high quality standards of education, and provide that education in the most effective way to Minnesota’s fire service. As approved at the recent Board meeting, they will cease operating as a section of the association and become a subcommittee of the Education Committee. They will continue to serve as a resource to instructors and trainers, and work to ensure that educational tracks for them are included in all MSFCA’s future events. 

Alexandria & Duluth Fire Officer and Training Officer Schools
The setting of the Alexandria and Duluth School events are very different, but those venue differences are highly valued by the different audiences at each event. The family-friendly feel of Arrowwood Resort’s waterpark property draws a different crowd than the DECC in Canal Park. Both events have proved viable, but the Education Committee has learned from valuable attendee feedback: two major changes are needed for the events to be sustainable. They will be introducing fresh workshop content, at least 50% of the sessions in Arrowwood and 30% in Duluth will be new. To give attendees plenty of time to make their plans, long-term contracts are also in the works, and registration will be open for both schools by Annual Conference. 

Annual Conference 
National Fire Prevention Week 

Events the size of MSFCA’s Conference must be planned years in advance to secure the meeting and sleeping space at the best rates. With MSFCA’s past effort to rotate throughout the state, the location was ranked higher than the timing – which resulted in the 2018 Conference being held over National Fire Prevention Week. The Association experienced a notable decline in attendance, and has acknowledged that members were tasked with a difficult choice of being away from their departments on this important time for their communities in order to participate. MSFCA does not want to put members in this predicament again, and since three of the four Conferences planned between 2021-2023 were scheduled over this same time-frame, the Executive Committee tasked the Conference Committee with resolving this problem.

The Conference Committee’s most resounding lesson learned from holding the Annual Conference in St. Paul in 2018 was that attendees come to the event for more than just the education, the whole Conference experience matters. The metro location made the conference “too convenient.” Many attendees tried to optimize their time and save money instead of staying overnight, which took away from the time they spent connecting with their peers. While there are pros and cons to any city large enough to provide enough meeting space and hotel rooms, the efficiency of the metro was a negative impact for many. Members state-wide have varying opinions on the ideal location and frequency of where to hold the conference, but the Conference Committee heard enough feedback, coupled with the historical turn-out numbers, that they proposed the Board consider a long-term contract in Duluth. 

Contract details are being finalized now, but the dates/locations for the Annual Conference and Fire Officer and Training Officer Schools have been set:

Minnesota State Fire Chiefs Association • 6737 W. Washington St. Ste. 4210 Milwaukee, WI 53214
MSFCA Office • 800-743-0911 •
Jennifer Rzepka, CAE •

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