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Where do you see the fire service in 20 years?

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  • Where do you see the fire service in 20 years?

    I would like to know your opinion on where you see the fire sevice in 20 years. As an asst. chief I go to zone meetings all the time where I hear how the fire servise is losing members and get any new ones. As I look further I find that it's not just a problem here in New York but all over. I hear people say that even the members they have won't show 'cause they know when it's an alarm activation at 2am it's probably bull (dangeruos attitude). Or an EMS call, I hear "I'm not an EMT so why bother". When you join the fire service you are expected, by your township, to be a FF, EMT, mechanic, gardner, electrian, furnace repair, chimney sweep, and countless others. If it keeps going in this direction, it doesn't look good for us. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks for your time.

  • #2
    Great question... I've never even thought about it.

    I agree with you about the ever- changing roles we play in the fire service. Career or volunteer, it doesn't matter... it seems we are expected to do more with less, whether the shortage is equipment, monetary, or personnel. I think cross training, a topic hotly debated here recently, will continue as the answer to some of these problems, and those who refuse to accept it are in for a suprise. I'm not saying it's the right answer, because I know plenty of firefighters who are cross trained, and some are great at both. Some have just taken on too much to learn either side well, especially when it comes to ALS. With trends like this, the basics stand a great chance of falling by the wayside. Someone who can throw ladders, stretch line, perform rope rescues, defibrilate, and push meds IS a great asset to any department if- AND ONLY IF- they are proficient at all these skills. How does one find time to keep all these skills sharp all at once?

    I also think safety will play a major role in how things are done in years to come. Departments as a whole seem to be getting more cautious about the level of risk they allow personnel to take, in relation to fireground activities. Good, because with staffing shortages being common place in many areas, the fireground is certainly becoming a more dangerous place to be. Firefighting is risky enough, then add on the fact that you may be doing it with half the people needed to do it quickly, safely, and effectively... not a pretty thought.

    I would like to think that technology may help out with some of these issues. True, we're still going to go in and do grunt work and get dirty, but with the advent of thermal imagers and the like, maybe we can reduce the risk we take by spending less time in a bad situation.

    I'm not sure what the service can do to recriut and retain new members who will stay for a whole career, especially considering the competition by other opportunities in the tech sector. There must be an answer somewhere on how people can be motivated to join the fire service and make a career out of it, but I don't know what it is...
    Hey, it's MY opinion, not that of my department or peers.


    • #3
      "Where do you see the fire service in 20 years?" That, indeed, is a good question.

      Well, we, the fire service, are at a crossroads. If more and more departments adopt the attitude of "Stand in the yard and hit it hard" for the majority of their fires, then the fire service is going to see our favorability ratings dwindle and fade away. Fire losses will go up exponentially.

      Yes, we as a fire service are doing a much better job of preaching the good word of fire safety and prevention, and fires are down. However, as we all know, things go in cycles. As the national economy cycles through cycles of growth and recession, the effect on fires is inversely proportional to how well the economy is doing.

      Think I am wrong? Go to any town or city where factories and other large employers close their doors. The jobless rate goes up. People can't afford to keep their homes. The real estate market is down. Solution? A can of gas and a lit match, and you make an instant sale to the fire insurance carrier.

      I am not wishing an economic downturn. Nor am I wishing for a rise in the rate of structure fires, especially arson fires. What I am wishing for is that lessons of the past being heeded. Rookies of today must earn the trust of the aging veteran firefighters. They must do this so that they can be taught those little lessons that are learned at the "Academy of Hard Knocks". Today's FF 1 & 2 and other programs are great, but rookie schools only go so far. The rest comes from experience.

      If today's generation of firefighters listen to the lessons of the past, then we, the American fire service, can propel ourselves to a level of greatness that is almost unimaginable!

      My vote is for learning from the past, rather than reinventing the wheel.

      Stay safe!


      • #4
        i see it from my rocking chair,as I wait for my pension check (hopefully. and at least in as good of shape as it was when I first entered ot 18 years ago


        • #5

          My thoughts exactly.


          • #6
            This will probably happenin less than 20 yrs.
            But I can see the day coming when everyone will be fighting the fire from outside the taped off 250 ft smoke free zone, wearing full fire proximity suits.
            The common phrase will be " Lets stop it at the next street"

            Also every dept will own its own bulldozer for overhaul.


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