What is Happening to our Fire Service….
Actually, this title gives no face to those brave men and women that go to a job ever single day and wonder if they will come home. They pull us from underneath a crashed vehicle, pull us up steep embankments from a crash, rescue us from burning structures, perform medical aide when necessary and generally, save us from ourselves.They do it without question and without knowing who we are.
A firefighters world is getting less safe. Federal funding has continued to be slashed and firefighters are still being laid off, departments are forced to consolidate (which may or may not be the right thing to do), there isn’t enough money to buy necessary tools, get proper training or upgrade old engines. All of these cause safety issues for the firefighters, for the general public, or both.
I would like to believe that the average US citizen is NEVER out of control, our votes do count and we can take action and can “work around” an administration that has used a lack of funding to fire service and other first responders as a “tool” to make us feel like the government is the only thing that can save us. The fire service does not need to be a victim of a bully. I believe that the we can help fire service work around that. If, we are united in our efforts. “We” would be fire and rescue equipment manufacturers, the general public and the fire agencies themselves.
Unfortunately, I believe we have a complete disconnect by those that are wielding the ax in Washington, DC. I would challenge a bunch of them to be firefighters (or cops) for a two week stint after attending a few days of basic training…Like rural volunteers, “on call” almost all the time, interrupted sleep, not enough people, not the right tools for the job, not enough money because we have a poor economy and donations have dropped off. On top of all that, come the cuts in fed funding to fire departments. If these people see first hand what it’s like to have to rescue an over-the-bank car accident victim that’s 400 feet down the hill with 3 volunteers and mutual aid coming whenever they can get there, the stress of knowing the consequences may make a difference. They need to see how it is that you get 4 victims and a dog out of a raging house fire when you only have 3 volunteers on an engine. It’s not uncommon anymore and I have heard that sometimes they are rolling with 2 volunteers……not enough firefighters, not enough tools to be safe to do what they have to do. Maybe if they have to live the life for a couple of weeks, they would find something else to cut that doesn’t mean peoples lives.
So, how is it that we convince a group of faceless people at the top that do not live in the same world down here that we do? Isn’t nearly every politician living in Washington DC or in Sacramento, CA very much removed from the true dangers firefighters and other first responders already face? It’s obvious we can’t convince them by rising against them, and we don’t want to do away with the support that they are still providing, but we have to learn to augment that funding more efficiently, work more efficiently and adapt to our new surroundings in fire service.
Sometimes the best offense is just a much BETTER offense. So, we can’t change how government funding is doled out, but we do have other ways of dealing with it. It’s called necessity, adaptation, and ultimately, empowerment. How do we provide more options for our public service agencies that give us protection in our every day lives? We unite with them. We support them in ways that were before an unnecessary step because Big Brother was there.
As a small business designer and manufacturer of rescue equipment, we could starve out here as well. AFG (Associated Firefighter Grants) that were once easy to get if you took the time to write one and submit it is not a “given” anymore. Plus, many of those that wrote grants within the fire department walls are no laid off. Yes, there are outside services for this and we could wait for them or we could write one ourselves and hope it’s successful. It’s just not a sure bet because there is so much competition by all the other departments seeking the same funds.
Our dependency on government funding for basic necessities is much like it is with foreign oil. Gosh, what happens if they shut off the flow? We are finding out and paying with firefighters health, welfare and ultimately, lives and the consequences of lives lost because rescue cannot come soon enough. It’s reality.
Human nature dictates that we just begin the evolution process. What would happen if we took the bully-whip away from those that are cutting funds. I think we can by working around it and becoming less dependent. This part is called “necessity”. We must find a way to endure this nonsense to maintain safety. Now, it’s on to “adaptation”. What are some ways we can adapt and increase the safety of those in the brotherhood that remain?
This is fire service. A branch of public safety that has long lived in tradition where motto’s range from “Whatever it takes” to “Courage, Compassion, Service” and many others that show the true heart and courage of those that protect us. It is one of the most noble of professions and it is why we do what we do. What can we do to help them and help ourselves withstand these tough times?
First, we should acknowledge as a manufacturing public and as a general public that we need to help fire service keep the traditions that they depend on alive and well while increasing their ability to purchase advanced equipment and training and fund them so that we can help them increase safety. The process of advancing the equipment that will address current needs, and not what the needs were 5 years ago is a necessary evolution. We cannot live in denial. It’s a dangerous place. Its a fact that there are certainly not as many firefighters and the funding from the traditional source is now unpredictable. Being aware of this means we can address the problem.
Flaresun Fire Group is comprised of about 50% retired firefighters. We feel the needs of our sons, daughters, sisters and brothers that are in fire service and the challenges they face. We know that it’s not a an easy time. Our intention is to help whenever we can by providing ways to help them raise private funding for needed equipment, training or other priority items to make their job better and safer. We are here to provide alternatives to government funding and assist in creative financing and ultimately, our promise is to always create products that make their jobs a lot less dangerous.
As citizens, we can make sure we attend our local fire department fund raisers and if you can’t donate money, offer to donate time in fundraising efforts for them. Everything we can do will like that help make firefighting a safer job.
Since we cannot change the way the government treats fire service, fire service must become empowered and adapt to this paradigm shift. I encourage all other manufacturers to take the steps that we are to ensure they are supporting their local fire departments by assisting in raising funds for needed equipment or other goals if they aren’t doing so already.
Firefighters, we respect and support you. We appreciate the work you do every day in a job that is getting more dangerous due to funding cuts and we will assist those that are ready to think outside the box to solve the financial challenges you face.
I invite you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and appreciate your service to our community. Thank you all for taking your time to read this blog.
L. Mortimeyer-CEO, Flaresun Fire Group