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Future of fire service

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  • Future of fire service

    Hello,

    I'd like to see the overall opinion on the future of the fire service. I hear more and more about how lack of fires and more firemen. A lot of departments I know have involved them selfs in ALS and some even transport. Just want to see what your outlook is and how the job will change/diminish. Not saying in any way I think this is right or wanting this to happen but just want to get a general idea of outlook perspective.

  • #2
    Um, involving themselves in EMS and transporting? Either you are very new to the fire service or you have been living in a cave for the last 3 or 4 decades. EMS in the fire service is far from new and in fact for many departments it makes up the vast majority of their calls. The career FD I retired from was running somewhere between 80 and 85% of our calls annually for EMS.

    There are very few fire departments getting bigger these days. Those that are tend to be swallowing up neighboring territory or taking on contracts to offer fire protection to neighboring communities. Mergers of fire and EMS departments are becoming far more common in cost saving measures to eliminate duplicate administrative costs and eliminate duplication of services. Sometimes either of these options offers better, more efficient, service sometimes not so much.

    The fire service is still a great career to pursue but my good old days weren't the generation before mine's, and the next generation will experience its own, different good old days. Thinking about how things used to be before you were even on the job makes no sense to me and just causes frustration. I always told the new guys it doesn't matter what it was like when I started, what matters is what it was like when you started.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

    Comment


    • #3
      Pretty good, level headed response fyred. Is this the signaling of a kinder, gentler fire service? Or did you get a good night's sleep?

      He he he!

      We should, do and will adapt to changing responsibilities. If we cling too tightly to the old ways and resist changing with the times we will run the risk of becoming irrevelant or obsolete to the point where there is no choice but to replace us with those that will do the job.

      Get some EMS training and be ready.
      The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
      There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
      Captain Dave LeBlanc

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by conrad427 View Post
        Pretty good, level headed response fyred. Is this the signaling of a kinder, gentler fire service? Or did you get a good night's sleep?

        He he he!

        We should, do and will adapt to changing responsibilities. If we cling too tightly to the old ways and resist changing with the times we will run the risk of becoming irrevelant or obsolete to the point where there is no choice but to replace us with those that will do the job.

        Get some EMS training and be ready.
        Smart azz! Probably why I look forward to your posts!
        Crazy, but that's how it goes
        Millions of people living as foes
        Maybe it's not too late
        To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

        Comment


        • #5
          As an old dog ...... As Dylan once said (And yes, that proves exactly HOW old a dog I am), "Things they are A Changin'".

          As Fryed said, EMS changed the fire service years ago. In fact, in places it was 40 or 50 years ago. Sure there are still fully paid (Such as new Orleans FD) or combo departments (such as the one next to my VFD) that have resisted EMS and still don't make EMS runs, but they are few and far between. And while most (at least in my experience) VFDs are still not running EMS, you are seeing a slow change there as well. Is that good or bad? Time will tell, but it certainly affects training schedules, and in VFDs, the time needed to serve.

          As far as VFDs ........ I'd like to say that I am optimistic, but I'm not. Increased training requirements, increased runs, decreased free time and in many places the declining tradition of volunteering will create great issues for my beloved volunteer fire service in the next 10 years.
          And in may of these places any career staffing is simply not a reasonable financial option. The cash simply is not there and never will be. So what happens? I see the VFDs in many places hanging on with older and older members until they fade away .... And then what? I wish I wasn't so gloomy .. and yes, there will be places where it will still carry on, in some cases, quite nicely, but those will be the exception and not the rule.
          Train to fight the fires you fight.

          Comment


          • #6
            Our county has 44 fire departments. There are several instances where multiple departments operate under one fire district (the taxing authority), but most of the others are their own entity.

            We have places where stations are almost literally a stone's thrown from each other, yet because they are in different townships (or occasionally parochialism, but that's another thread), they exist separately.

            New York is a home rule state - nobody can step in and tell fire departments to merge/consolidate. It has to start at the bottom.

            So there is a certain amount of duplication. Eventually, that duplication will force consolidation, and town lines will no longer be impenetrable barriers. For now, it's still a problem.

            The cost of replacing a single volunteer engine company with a staffed unit will run to well over half a million dollars a year, depending on pay and staffing levels. And that's just the manpower. In the case of my own fire district, that's $150,000+ more than the annual budget for two vollie stations, including contributions to reserve funds. I'm not sure the taxpayers would stand for it, since it would still be necessary to have volunteers (and the requisite equipment) to back up that staffed engine crew. All for less than 300 calls a year (and that includes MVAs, tree/wire down calls, cats in trees, and all the other usual stuff we all get called out for).

            I suspect that we can expect continued (and maybe increased) scrutiny, especially by governments desperate to reduce budgets (and the taxpayers who fund those budgets). We're caught between increasing operating costs due to mandates and diminishing income opportunities.

            We've already discussed the volunteer problem on a thread in that forum.

            It's a
            Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

            Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

            Comment


            • #7
              It is quite common to have EMS as part of volunteer/POC/Combination fire departments in my area.
              Crazy, but that's how it goes
              Millions of people living as foes
              Maybe it's not too late
              To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by FyredUp View Post
                It is quite common to have EMS as part of volunteer/POC/Combination fire departments in my area.
                That's very much a regional thing.

                In my area in Louisiana, just about every combination department runs EMS, with a couple of very rare exception. In the parish to my west, every department transports with the exception of 2. In my volunteer parish, most of the VFDs run EMS first response. My VFD, and one other, are the exceptions.

                Where I from up north, my VFD and even a fair number of combination departments don't get involved with EMS at all.
                Train to fight the fires you fight.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tree68 View Post
                  We have places where stations are almost literally a stone's thrown from each other, yet because they are in different townships (or occasionally parochialism, but that's another thread), they exist separately.

                  We have a similar situation in some counties in CA. I believe that ultimately there will come a time when those places will be forced to abandon their patchwork of small FDs and be forced to consolidate for efficiencies and economies of scale. Funding will be the primary issue and driving force. The biggest obstacle will be those in the political bodies that govern them and the exec staff whose livelihoods depend on maintaining the status quo.
                  Last edited by scfire86; 09-19-2015, 10:26 AM.
                  They told me if I voted for Hillary Clinton the president would be emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable. They were right. I voted for Hillary Clinton and got a president that is emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable.

                  I'm not saying you're stupid. I'm saying you have bad luck when it comes to thinking.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                    As an old dog ...... As Dylan once said (And yes, that proves exactly HOW old a dog I am), "Things they are A Changin'".

                    As Fryed said, EMS changed the fire service years ago. In fact, in places it was 40 or 50 years ago. Sure there are still fully paid (Such as new Orleans FD) or combo departments (such as the one next to my VFD) that have resisted EMS and still don't make EMS runs, but they are few and far between. And while most (at least in my experience) VFDs are still not running EMS, you are seeing a slow change there as well. Is that good or bad? Time will tell, but it certainly affects training schedules, and in VFDs, the time needed to serve.

                    As far as VFDs ........ I'd like to say that I am optimistic, but I'm not. Increased training requirements, increased runs, decreased free time and in many places the declining tradition of volunteering will create great issues for my beloved volunteer fire service in the next 10 years.
                    And in may of these places any career staffing is simply not a reasonable financial option. The cash simply is not there and never will be. So what happens? I see the VFDs in many places hanging on with older and older members until they fade away .... And then what? I wish I wasn't so gloomy .. and yes, there will be places where it will still carry on, in some cases, quite nicely, but those will be the exception and not the rule.
                    Not to be a nit picker but Bob Dylan sang "for the TIMES they are a changing..."

                    Don't mess with Bob Dylan ' s lyrics!!
                    Crazy, but that's how it goes
                    Millions of people living as foes
                    Maybe it's not too late
                    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by scfire86 View Post
                      We have a similar situation in some counties in CA. I believe that ultimately there will come a time when those places will be forced to abandon their patchwork of small FDs and be forced to consolidate for efficiencies and economies of scale. Funding will be the primary issue and driving force. The biggest obstacle will be those in the political bodies that govern them and the exec staff whose livelihoods depend on maintaining the status quo.
                      Consolidation in all career departments, or even combination departments with paid administrative members are an entirely different situation than consolidating volunteer departments. Without adding paid administrative staffing, combining several VFDs can simply become an administrative nightmare that can overwhelm volunteer officers. If the funds are not there to hire paid staff, the small saved in operating expenses can be washed out by the problems associated with increased administration, and likely the savings will not pay for administrative members to be hired.
                      Train to fight the fires you fight.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                        Consolidation in all career departments, or even combination departments with paid administrative members are an entirely different situation than consolidating volunteer departments. Without adding paid administrative staffing, combining several VFDs can simply become an administrative nightmare that can overwhelm volunteer officers. If the funds are not there to hire paid staff, the small saved in operating expenses can be washed out by the problems associated with increased administration, and likely the savings will not pay for administrative members to be hired.
                        I would opine that there is a continuum. On one end are volunteer departments that have enough business that they do quite well on their own. At the other end are small departments - very small - that exist chiefly because they still do. If one were to start from scratch, forming most of them wouldn't even be considered. They were important when they began - poor roads, slow, small equipment, poor communications. Not so much today.

                        Further, many of those small departments won't combine with larger neighbors (or even equally sized neighbors) because they don't want to give up the jacket.

                        Regionalization, where it can be implemented, would allow for rationalization of resources. No need for a half million dollar engine in every station, or multiple million dollar ladder trucks where there's barely the need for one. Not every station needs a heavy rescue, either.

                        Our county has 44 volunteer departments. That means 44 chiefs, 44 first assistant chiefs, 44 second assistant chiefs, and a few more in some departments, never mind myriad captains and lieutenants. Do we really need 132 white hats?

                        I recall reading somewhere that one locale on Long Island has four volunteer fire departments - in about a square mile.

                        Granted, there are volunteer departments that cover hundreds of square miles - although they often have a population that measures in the hundreds as well.

                        There's no one answer. I do think we can improve, though.
                        Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                        Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                        Comment

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