Even fire services should withstand budget review, but good luck with that

During the federal dust-up over the budget sequester, President Obama took to the airwaves surrounded by firefighting personnel, even though firefighting is not a federal responsibility. When Michigan voters in 2012 had to consider whether to accept Canada’s offer to pay for and build a new bridge connecting the two countries, a series of ads argued that allowing the construction of the bridge would necessitate a reduction in firefighters.

In political science we refer to this as the “firemen first principle:” whenever taxpayers prove recalcitrant on revenue increases, threaten them with the elimination of firefighters. The public would do well to call the bluff.

Public myths are necessary to the sustenance of political order, but bad myths can undermine democratic decision-making. The worst are those which single out groups for special praise or vilification. I can think of no group in our society more affirmatively mythologized than firemen. They are lauded as heroes, their sacrifices valorized, and their sites of failure taken as sacred ground.

No traction can be made on state and municipal budgets without considering police and fire protection. At the same time, no two interests have been more adept at insulating themselves from budget cuts. When Scott Walker challenged the public employees unions in Wisconsin, he left police and fire departments alone. Michigan's "Right to Work" law provides an exemption for police and fire workers. These immunities have far more to do with political expediency than either principle or prudence.

The public has acquiesced largely because it accepts the myths. Take, for example, the widespread use of the misnomer "first responders." Events such as the Boston Marathon bombing and the World Trade Center attack demonstrate that the police and fire personnel are typically the last persons on the scene. Most of the hard work is done by those already there. If your house is on fire, you best get yourself and your family out. The main function of firemen (and it's a valuable one) is to contain fires, not to prevent or end them.

Actually, that's not true. Fighting fires constitutes a very small portion of a firefighter's tasks. Only 3.8 percent of the responses by Holland's fire department, for example, involved actual or suspected fires. With little to do and lots of down time, fire departments have been delegated other duties, such as installing car seats, this being beyond the skill set of the average taxpayer.

Long celebrated in movies, TV and the news media, the myth of the heroic fireman became even more deeply entrenched in public consciousness after the events of 9/11. It's not as if the New York Fire Department didn't have adequate resources. In the 10 years prior to 9/11 they received an increase in funding $253 million above inflation, even though the number of fires had declined by 46 percent in that same time.

Nonetheless, a combination of turf battles with the police department, bureaucratic mismanagement, and simple arrogance resulted in an inability to communicate during the crisis. The people who were saved in the towers were almost exclusively saved by people in the towers.

No person becomes virtuous by dint of wearing a uniform. William Langewiesche, in his book “American Ground,” claimed there were firemen looting World Trade Center stores while occupants were trying to escape the inferno. (This account was disputed.) Human beings are imperfect creatures, troubling mixes of virtue and vice, with a tendency, when the veneer of civilization gets stripped away, toward the latter. We do well to remember that rescue persons can be heroic, but are not always so. Indeed, they are typically no more so than the general population.

In a crisis, your best bet as a citizen is the people with whom you live and work. Government officials tend to be latecomers to a crisis. Given the viciousness of human nature, and given the unpredictability of life, these persons are needed. Deliberate decision-making, however, requires sound judgment concerning the relative value of public employees, replete with a sense of what's possible, and without illusion.

About The Author

Jeffrey Polet

Jeffrey Polet is a writer and professor in Holland, and sometimes writes at Front Porch Republic. A West Michigan native, he is married with three children. The views and assertions of guest columnists do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

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Comments

J. Strate
Fri, 02/28/2014 - 10:45pm
Yes, public safety is the 3rd rail of local politics--touch it and you are dead! I constructed a scattergram some time ago putting the crime rate on the horizontal axis and the number of police officers/capita on the vertical axis. There was a positive relationship, but a few communities were extreme outliers (far above or far below the regression line). Dearborn was one of them, far above the regression line--"clean and safe" is the slogan around here. The mayor and council know that public safety is devouring most tax money, and have negotiated with the unions to override a charter provision that fixes the number of police and fire as a percentage of the population, but nobody is going to be very popular or get very far with the argument that, as terrific as public safety is around here, the city may have gone a bit overboard in this area.
Joseph Materia
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 6:43pm
Mr Pollet is simply ignorant of both what happened at the Boston Marathon and what firefighters and police officers do as first responders. On April 15, 2015, Ladder 15, Engine 33 and the BFD HazMat Unit was a block away from the bombings at their Boylston St fire house and responded immediately before help was even requested. They were at the site within 60 seconds followed closely by Ladder 17 and Engine 7. They saved lives, along with the numerous Boston Fire and Police foot details at the Marathon finish line. Mr Pollet should do some research, visit a firehouse and talk to police officers and EMT to get his facts right. His assertions are unsubstantiated, incorrect and unprofessional. Maybe if his 3 children were injured at the Marathon or WTC bombings like thousands of others were - he would appreciate life saving efforts. And yes, it is heroic to risk your life to save others.
Steve H
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 7:49pm
Joseph, You are clouding this issue with facts, you must have misunderstood this. As the author states, ' "No person becomes virtuous by dint of wearing a uniform" I would like to also add that no professor becomes leaned by dint of having a Ph.D, If you want to discuss the mix of full time vs. paid on call for a department then you may have a point but what has been have laid out here is preposterous. Here's an idea Dr. Polet, maybe join a department and experience what is being done the you can speak from personal experience. The only issue is your preposterous points may no longer be your prevailing view. Fir Na Tine
Alec
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 1:17am
I have been a part if emergency scene as a by stander and as a ff/paramedic. It is completely different. As a by stander with no training or experience I was able to help then hand it off and not hold any responsibility for the outcome, but as a ff when a parent hands you their child who is not breathing and looks to you to save them it's different. It's up to you and your treatment. It is a heavy weight to carry. It is a stressful job. But that's just a small part. Maybe this so called expert should talk to some real people instead of formulating an opinion without the facts.
Marc
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 10:16pm
And if you're in one of the majority of fire departments that don't run an ambulance, after you're handed that not breathing child, you hand it to the PARAMEDICS who actually do the work. I have no problem with FDs who run and ambulance. They have seen the reality of where emergency work is; in medical. But those departments that don't are no better than lying to the city manager to get more funding. The typical "Oh we do 10000 calls a year" sounds great but then take into account the reality of "Well actually 8000 of those calls we just kinda waited on the ambulance and then left when they showed up". Its a great way to get funding, but is it really deserved?
G
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 10:40pm
Joe, I appreciate your comments in regards to the Marathon attack but I just want to correct you on some minor details. Engine 7 was the first company on scene. Engine 7 was at the corner of Exeter and Comm Ave standing outside the rig investigating a call (3 blocks away) when the 1st bomb detonated. Engine 7 responded to the Finish Line (Exeter and Boylston St). TL17 was on the same call with Engine 7, but had yet to arrive. (they were still driving on Comm Ave on the opposite side of the street) TL17 responded down Fairfield St to the 2nd explosion. They were the 1st company at the 2nd explosion. E33 and L15 did respond but after E7 and Tl17 were already on the scene. Also the BFD Haz Mat Unit was 5 blocks away and did not respond to the attack.. You are correct tho in your statement that there were other Fire Personnel on foot working details along the finish line. For the record I was working on Engine 7 that day...
Duane
Sat, 03/01/2014 - 10:25am
Maybe it is time we changed the conversation and look at the services and function provided in a different way. There is a well established resources, trained and motivated firefighters, why aren't we looking at how that resource can be leverage to take their proven capacity into adding to value in our communities? Why are we so narrowly focused on the cost and not considering the potential value? Why are we thinking only of the past and not looking to the future and begin anticipating needs/value opportunities? Why do we talk about the lost value of 'sacred cow's' have cost us and begin talking about what is available to us and how it can be nest employed today and tomorrow? Mr. Polet raises valid concerns, he also build barriers to change with how it presents what he observes, he is closing down opportunties for discussion. Why are we drawing in the proven people, fire fighters and police, to a discussion of how we can create greater value for our communities and democtrated to those in our communities. Why not look at the free market to see how people react to greater value, when it is right for them they will pay more for it. I think Mr. Polet's work is valuable to our community and can be a steping stone to change. I believe that by building on his work and similar work on other issues/topics it could become a starting point for change. If Mr. Polet want to change things, I would encourage him to take what he has found and turn it into an open conversation looking for ideas/ways to change the issued form confrontation to collaboration and innovation. Mr. Polet and Bridge to create a new vehicle for changing the partisan approach to issues to one of oepn discussion by the public that could change how things happen in Lansing.
***
Sat, 03/01/2014 - 11:11am
There is a fire station controversy going on in Okemos right now where residents of some luxury condos are fighting a proposal to build a new fire station across the street. The big objections are a decline in property values due to the station and the noise of the sirens upsetting the condo residents.
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 5:35pm
Okemos is a special case. Nothing happens their - and that really isn't an exaggeration - without a court fight.
Tom
Sun, 03/02/2014 - 4:53pm
Jeff, I won't take issue with what I think was the main point of your article, which is that the fire service does not need special immunity from the budgetary process. I couldn't agree more; but your knowledge and expertise about the fire service and what firefighters actually do is nothing short of laughable. Talk about mythmaking, did you do any research at all? You really think (in your reference to the Boston bombing victims) that " most of the hard work (was) done by those already there". What an incredibly moronic statement, and proving once again the old adage that " you don't know what you don't know." Also Jeff, I understand you're actually only in the classroom teaching your students 10.2% of the time you're at work. Seems like perhaps you don't have enough to do to justify that fat, middle class wage you're making. Know what I mean?
Kenny
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:39am
Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:52am
Kenny, Do you think that 'firefughters' are born and not taught? Who do you think are teaching the 'firefighters' the the means and methods of their profession? I know that without teachers we would not have the highly capabable and performing professionals. At least in my experience a good teacher is one that causes me to think beyond the past and apply what I have learn to contribute to change, to innovation, to improvement. I do appreciate a good teacher.
Kevin
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:32am
I think what he is saying is that this 'man' and I use the term lightly. Could not at some point in his life make it as a firefighter, so now he has to teach. I do not think he is talking bad about teachers in general, just this wannabe
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:29pm
Kevin, Kenny's remark of, "Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.", was what I was commenting on. What did I miss when reading Kenny's remark that should have shown me he was talking about Mr. Polet personally or felt he was talking about a 'wannabe' and he wasn't talking about teachers in general? With regards to your remarks, "this ‘man’ and I use the term lightly." I am curious how you define a 'man' so I can better appreciate why you are using the 'term lightly'. I don't want to miss read your remarks as you point out I misread Kenny's remarks, 'using the term lightly' suggest to me that you are questioning or are less then complementary of Mr. Polet. I wonder what raised your questions and if you have similar questions about me. If you have such concerns of me then just ask and I will try to address your concerns.
Gary
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 3:49pm
Your comment about Firefighters and who teaches them is sort of laughable in and of itself. The instructors throughout the State of Michigan for the Fire academies are not "teachers" they are certified instructors and active firefighters, when a firefighter is no longer active in a fire department they are removed from the roles as an instructor by the Michigan Firefighters Training Council. Some of these no-longer active instructors may still instruct but they must have an active/certified instructor present throughout the teaching session. These people are referred to as subject matter experts. Furthermore, in the article it discusses the increases in millions of dollars of the Budget of the FDNY - "recieved an increase $253 million above inflation" but take into account the budget cuts of the 1970's and 1980's coupled with the increased costs of equipment, and technological improvements in equipment you can see why, in the 1980's a set of Jaws could be purchased for $4000, try purchasing one today for less than $20,000. In the 1980's a Class A pumper cost under $100,000 today they start at $275,000 and that's for a stripped down pumper (Nearly all trucks are custom specified for the departments needs.) The FNDY operates 205 engine companies, 142 ladder companies, 7 squads, 5 heavy rescues, out of 219 firehouses; a price increase of just $15,000 in one year per new truck purchased on a ten year rotation would add a $504,000 increase per year to the budget. Thermal imaging cameras did not exist until the mid 1990's and were very expensive, and a new firefighter could be fully equipped including an air pack for less than $1000, now the turnout gear, helmet, boots, gloves and hood push the price tag over $3000, and the Air packs list for $5500 (trust me I just bought several of them). Much of the public safety equipment especially fire equipment is undisputedly increasing at a cost which vastly outpaces inflation, some smaller fire departments are quickly falling behind in the upgrading of equipment. So, my point is rather than attacking budget requests and increases, maybe the need should be on justifying the needs by showing the cost of the equipment as well as the requirements for replacement as I know Holland Fire Dept. has been doing.
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 1:10am
Gary, Your point is well made in pointing out the difference between a 'teacher' and a certified instructor. I wonder if you ever had training on hazardous material incident response. Have you ever considered where that initial training came from, or if there were a facitility in your area that involved hazardous materials who you would turn to for instruction on how to deal with the materials and prepare for an event? I wonder if a personal knowledgeable of the materials recommend preactices that were counter to what would be done in a structure fire would be considered a teacher, and would they becausing the firefighters to rethink their approach to such an event. . I don't claim to know firefighting that's why I support our firefighters, by the same token I don't believe any function should be held above scrutiny. Why does a knowledgeable and skilled and experienced teacher has to have an 'instructor' present when they are talking about their proven expertise? I presume when a new piece of equipment is delivered that there has to be an 'instructor' present when the manufacturer's representative is explain the features, the operations, and examples of application of the equipment to experieinced firefighters, why?
EngineBoss
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 8:05pm
Duane, I may be misunderstanding your context regarding hazardous materials (HAZMAT as I will now refer to it) and the training that fire service personnel receive. In almost every jurisdiction that is served by a fire service organization there is some type of a facility that handles HAZMAT or will have a material pass through their jurisdiction that is considered hazardous. Firefighters typically receive their basic knowledge of these materials and how to mitigate their contamination/hazard from a fire service instructor, this instructor may be a highly trained specialist in HAZMAT or a technician-level responder (minimum of 40-80 hours of training depending on jurisdiction). Typically, the only instruction a firefighter will receive outside of this would be from a subject expert from a specific facility, if their is such a hazard present in their community, but this would be considered a rarity in most areas. As far as your comment regarding training from a manufacturer of apparatus upon delivery of a new piece, this is also common, as firefighters are quite often trained by the apparatus manufacturer on their specific piece of equipment. Like the differences between a dodge and a toyota, the difference between a pierce and a seagrave (respective names of manufacturers) can be significant, can. Again, I may have misinterpreted your entire statement and you could have quite a knowledge-base or you could even be a firefighter, but I figured I would give you my best take on your question.
Duane
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:20am
Engine Boss, My comments were in response to Gary, "Your comment about Firefighters and who teaches them is sort of laughable in and of itself. " He seem to feel it a person wasn't a certified instructor and had experience reeal time firefighting he suggested that they were at best a teacher and not qualitifed to train firefighters. My view is there are many non-firefighters that have a great deal of information to teach firefighters about. Your example of subject expert being one. I offered the HAZMAT as an example of expertise that was and can be provided by non-firefighters. You mention subject expert which many others failed to consider. You also describe mcuh better than I did. Gary seems to have a narrow view that the requirement of being an active firefighter somehow precludes people being effective and beneficial trainers of firfighters. HAZMAT is an example who trains the 'qualified instructors.' Comments like Gary's cause me to wonder if there were a HAZMAT event if a call would be made to Responsible Care and if an industrial response team were to arrive on site how they would be recieved. As for the rarity of a hazardous material facility in a community, I would offer that if there is an Interstate passing through the community, if there is a gas station, and quite probably if their is a public swimming pool there is a risk of a hazardous event. Your view on who trains about the equipment seems to differ from Gary's belief that it requires a 'certified instructor'. To extend your example between a peirce and a seagrave, I would suggest there is more difference between a pumper and foam truck. I would suggest that the means and methods to deliver foam and the situations would be better presented by the manufacture's rep than the local 'certified instructor'. I have to apologize for how I have presented my views, I have seen the arrogance of too many people get in the way of their learning because they don't precieve the person teaching them to be 'qualified' since they done have comparable experience. Many commentors on this article have project that view, it is disappointing and raises a concern about how well trained for events they haven't already experienced they really are. You are the first person to have any interest in my 'experience', I am sure it is important in these types of discussions. I am not a firefighter nor ever taken that training. I have had some training in how to risk assessment, palnnig prevention and response, and developing training exercise for people that would respond prior to 'firefighters' arriving. I have had some knowledge of HazWOper. I have had the opportunity work with a few firefigthers. Some commentors have place great weight on having to experience the fear of high risk situation. I don't hold that same view, I was trying to frame my comments to challenge those who discounted ideas that didn't come from experienced firefighters. Thank you for both taking the time to read my comments and for your response.
Paul B
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:16am
To all of Jeff's students, family and friends. If in danger follow him. He will be the first one screaming like a Baby and running away as fast as possible. You are a disgrace and exactly what is wrong with our Country. I suggest you spend some time fighting a fire or steering down the barrel of a criminals gun hell bent on killing you. Until then you should probably climb back into your hole and hope you are never trapped in a fire. But then again, the FIRST RESPONDERS in your community will risk their lives to save you. Even though you bash the very blanket of protection that they provide. Until that time, maybe you should just say thank you instead of bashing them. Your opinion is laughable and shows the arrogance of elitists like yourself.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:22am
Paul, It is disppointing when questioning what others will do in a given situation without knowing about the person they are questioning. The situations you mention will be influenced by training, experience, and by situation. I would offer that what a person will do in those situation does not discredit nor add credence to the topic of this article. I believe everything should be open for discussion, people should have the opportunity to express their views without risk of personal questioning, and that over time things change so long standing service should expected to change. I have found that long standing practices that don't change can become burdensome and hinder benefits of the service.
Jeremy
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:31am
Duane, I agree, everything should be open to discussion. Questioning the status quo is a healthy thing to do. Using your large reach for a personel agenda, and challenging it with misleading and borderline false "facts", is disgusting however. When one does as such, questioning their personel motives and character is no longer out of the question.
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 1:46am
Jeremy, I see personal attacks more as an effort to stiffle discussion than to demonstrate errors in what is said. I can't judge motive, I can suspect it, I can consider it when reading what is said. I still discourage personal attacks. I do admit that it can be difficult not to attack those that evoke emotions by what they say, but I am concerned about how it will affect others that may have something valuable to say from saying it. To try to instill distrust in a person's family because you don't like what they say can discourage others from speaking up because the images that can be conjure of a person who would use that approach to quiet a speaker. I am not one that beleives the ends justify the means, usually the means are more harmful then the ends they were trying to achieve.
Derek DeVries
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:25am
343 firefighters died on 9/11. Another 1,140 first responders have cancer as a result of the dust and debris from the wreckage. Guess that isn't enough of a sacrifice for Dr. Polet to refrain from attacking them for the unprecedented bureaucratic hurdles they were hindered by to when two of the world's largest buildings were hit by airliners. Running into fires isn't the only thing that makes firefighters heroic. They also provide medical aid. Moreover, their off-time is devoted to preventative work keeping fires from starting in the first place - so that they have fewer to respond to (in addition to constant training and planning). To wit, Polet's citation of facts about the Holland Fire Department is intellectually dishonest. While it's true that 3.8% of the calls the Holland Fire Dept. received last year were related to actual fires, Polet is excluding the 9.1% of calls that were false alarms and another 5.6% were responding to hazardous conditions. It's also dishonest to insinuate that the rest of their time is spent frivolously "installing car seats." The reality is that 66.3% of the Holland Fire Department's calls last year were responses to medical emergencies - another vital service fire departments provide. (Source: http://bit.ly/1luxrak) It's pretty sad that Polet would attack the good work firefighters do in pursuit of eradicating unions.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:56am
Derek, You must have been reading a different article than I did. I read nothing that suggested to me that Mr. Polet was raising any doubts about the competency or the heorics of firefighter. From his article I thought he encouraged me to think we should be looking for other opportunities for the communities to gain from the proven resources the firefighters are. One thought that comes to mind is making their expertise available to local employers though classes presenting how people can assess a fire early, when and how to use a fire extinguisher (that is required by law), assessing escape routes, etc. These may be activities they already provide, if so they may need to reasses how they are communicating that fact. For me Mr. Polet brought to light that politicians have created that fear about changing how the government agencies provide their services. It seems too many of the commenters have dug in their 'heels' and attack Mr. Polet on a personal level without ever considering that things may change sufficiently that we should be looking at those services in a different light. I have to admit Mr. Polet point that it is common for someone other thant the firefighters are on scene first. Commonly they are the ones that make the call for assistance. A former employer of mine use to train all employees on how to evacuate, take head counts, to take shelter, to mitigate as apporpriate the situation prior to the firefigters arrival. I suspect that those are things the firefighters themselves would encourage.
Kevin
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:11pm
I'm not sure if people realize that when the first site of danger approaches the first thing people do is run for the exits! I was a Lieutanant on a very busy fire dept. in Ohio. It takes a lot of courage to run head first into a fire even for some firemen! We recently lost two very brave brothers in an occupied structure! So until you actually risk your life on an interior attack or crawl under a vehicle turned over in a ditch with your loved one still trapped inside and me and my brothers risking our lives to save them don't make commenters on things you have never done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:45am
Kevin, Do you think firefighters are the only ones that face danger, that have lost people they work with, that take risks? Do think simply because people take risks their activities, their roles and responsibilities should be above scrutiny? Have you ever considered why high risk industries have safer work environments that general industry and even office settings? When I hear people resist scrutiny especially when they defend their postion based on emotion and risk and past practice I become really concern that they have a 'group think' that will not allow ideas and practices be challenged. I begin to wonder if they do an effective debrief after an event, especially one that involves casualties. I learned a long time ago that a different perspective can be very valuable to those who are taking risks, that people can be to close to what they are doing to miss opportunities to improve waht they are doing, that emotion can prevent effective analysis of what has happened and what can be done to minimize risk. I have learn people can become so accustom to risk that they fail to take actions that will reduce their risk. What other functions/services do you think should not be scrutinized and have their budgets reviewed because of the risks it involves, that people lose their lives, that people take heroic actions? What other organizations should be held up as 'sacred'? If private companies had risks similar to what you describe, do you believe their practices shouldn't be held up to scrutiny?
Derek DeVries
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:52pm
Duane, Indeed - we must have read different articles. The one I read called the public view of firefighters as heroes a "bad myth" and undermined the actions of the first responders in 9/11, claiming that as in most catastrophes "most of the hard work is done by those already there." The article I read also said that firefighters do "not to prevent or end" fires - and that "fighting fires constitutes a very small portion of a firefighter’s tasks." Moreover, the author cited a disputed account from 9/11 that claimed firefighters from Ladder Company 4 somehow found time to loot a Gap store between 9:30am when they arrived on scene and 9:59am when the tower fell. Curious. Perhaps you could provide me a link to the article you read so I can compare them. I've served on risk management and crisis planning teams in the wake of 9/11. That event caused many employers to develop crisis plans and deploy the type of training you discussed. As the years passed, I watched as people changed roles/retired/moved on, responsibilities were dropped and organizations returned to the same state of complacency and lack of readiness that they were in prior to the event. Disaster response isn't frequently used so it gets forgotten when daily priorities accumulate. It's impractical to give employees specialized training they may never have the occasion to use - so it seldom happens. That's why we have trained specialists to serve the public. I notice Dr. Polet didn't mention the cuts made to fire departments out west (or within the Federal Government) that ended up costing more in overtime when fire activity picked up from a lull. That's the problem with disasters - they don't schedule themselves when it's convenient. That is why we pay firefighters to spend time not fighting fires - so that they'll be there when we do need them. By Dr. Polet's logic, I should reduce the coverage of my homeowner's insurance policy because I've never had occasion to file a claim. Fire services have withstood budget review. Ironically, what Dr. Polet actually did was illustrate the fact that the public supports funding the government when they understand clearly what that funding is for. First responders aren't "sacred cows" because of misperceptions - conversely, they're sacred because the public understands EXACTLY what they do. If only other municipal departments were able to articulate their value so concretely, they would be protected by the public will from budget cuts. Woe unto the comptroller, consumer safety inspector, and office of permitting.
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 1:36am
Derek, I have no article to offer. Honestly I discounted his mentioning of any unlawful action. The article I read was about eliminating 'sacred cows' and people discouraging scrutiny. I maybe to thick skinned after having those type thinking said about where I worked knowing they didn't apply. For that I apologize and will try to not overlook those aspects of such articles. You mention the cut backs out west and in the Federal government, I don't know what impact those cuts had. I can't judge individuals or specific organizations without having access to them. I do believe that no organization should be held about scrutiny, that a displine and regular assessment can help organizations be more effective and communicate the value of those organizations and the services they provide. I do not believe in training people to be 'heroes', I want them to be trained to assess the risks and mitigate them. I know that situations can happen where someone steps forward and is a hero, but that should be the exception not the rule, that shold not be a justification of exemption for the whole organization/function. You mention the scrutiny of practices that were made after 9/11 and how practices were changed, but are now fading away. That fading away causes me to feel strong about the need for scrutiny. I know that private companies have to have annual practices/drills for emergency events that have never happened in their facilities so the people will not lose those ecessary knowledge and skills and the Federal government can come in to verify those practices. I wonder why government organization don't want that same scrutiny. What was a former President said, 'trust but verify'. Why should there be 'sacred cows' that are exempt from that verification, that scrutiny?
David Dicland
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:05am
It's clear you have no idea what you're talking about with regards to the Fire service. You are right to suggest that fire departments should not be "immune" to restructuring, but you're understanding of what firemen - and the paramedics and EMS personnel that are almost always stationed with them - do is laughable. You're an elitist coward and honestly, an idiot blowhard that is no longer worthy of my time or effort. Enjoy your pathetic life, you yellow punk.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:13am
David, You have made some harsh remarks. Some that suggest a lack of understanding about even and individuals. I have seen more polticians demostrate cowardice in the face of poltiical risk than I have of individual in live risking situations. You remarks cause me to wonder about your experiences and training. I wonder if you have ever stood by a person the first time they confronted their own mortality. I one that believes fear is a valuable to the body/mind has created. With training and preparation it is something we can manage in most situations, but in not all situations. Different people in different situations may step forward to address events, that does not mean that all others are some how less a man or woman because the hadn't. I do appreciat the firefights and police offers and other who work in hazardous environments, I believe it is their training and other preperations that contribute to their performances. I do not think less of those who do service in those roles. Just because I disagree with someone or they don't seem to have the same understanding I do I see no reason to attack them personally. I become concerned that the attacker may not be as prepared for the discussion so they turn to an emotional response rather then thinking through what was presented. It could be analogous to a firefighter hainvg to fight a fire without training and not taking the time to think before acting. In both cases the results are less likely to help the situation.
Kevin
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:20am
It is ok to talk bad about firefighters and first responders until it is you or someone you or someone you care about need help. what happens when your family member has a heart attack or is an accident . Or no one ever goes to little Billy's school and teaches him about the dangers of fires. If you want to attack something that does not work , Lets start with the government and work our way down to you.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:24am
Interesting....yet people still call 911 hundreds of thousands of times every day, all day. When are people going to wake up and realize that they need to save themselves? Trapped upstairs in a house fire, find a way out. Fall out of your boat, better swim for it. Trapped in your car after an accident, hope you're strong enough to pry open the doors. Of course that was sarcasm. Just a professor stirring the pot. #15minutesoffame
Jeremy
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:25am
Have you always based your opinions on misleading garbage of the mouth? "Only 3.8 percent of the responses by Holland’s fire department, for example, involved actual or suspected fires. With little to do and lots of down time, fire departments have been delegated other duties, such as installing car seats, this being beyond the skill set of the average taxpayer." Interesting... well I did 15 seconds of research into said department (you'd think a man of your occupation would do the same). 66% of this departments calls were EMS... something you decide are little more than time fillers to fill their downtime. They are in fact, FIRST RESPONDERS. The list of medical conditions that are lethal if not identified within minutes is enourmous. (See... this is called talking about something you're educated about.). Fire is consistantly the first on scene and carry a full assortment of medical equipment and knowledge. Many if not most... are of an EMT or Medic level. The dept you refer to runs on a budget of just ove $2 million a year... you consider that a lot? For a life saving organization, that's incredibly low to the tax payers, no wonder you teach politics... you're perfect, you have no grasp on the correlation between money spent and the average persons needs. Please stick to you opinions on religion and politics, two items I hold no value in, and by definition SHOULD be split. You're a walking contridiction who rely's on the very group you ignorantly attack.
Ryan
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:45am
As a professional firefighter/paramedic in the United States, there are a multitude of things I would love to teach you about the fire service, but because our span of response and responsibilities is so large and ever changing, there just simply isn't enough time. Also, I just put in 48 hours on the job, only to have 24 hours off and then I'm back for another tour so I'd like to spend a little time with my family. But that's pretty close to your schedule, isn't it? I usually work 24 hours on and 48 hours off, so 1/3 of my life is spent away from my family and friends. It is very true that we don't respond to a lot of actual working fires. Statistically 75% of the calls for service we have are for EMS. My department not only staffs firefighters, but we are crossed trained as paramedics and EMTs so we treat and transport. Not only do we have fire ground operating procedures but we also have a medical protocol (that we are tested semi annually on so we probably need to know it) that we follow to treat a sick or injured person. We literally have a mobile emergency room responding to your location when it's needed. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you have never experienced finding a family member, your son or daughter, wife, husband or friend unconscious and not breathing. But you probably know CPR, how to secure a patent airway, have access to life saving drugs, know how to read a cardiac rhythm and know the protocol to treat this person, right? Do you know how to safely cut someone out of a car while keeping your crew safe from the 25 airbags you have in your Hybrid car? How to rescue or recover a person that has become trapped in a confined space? Do you pick up body parts off the road in the middle of the night, only to have the other passenger of the vehicle walk away unscathed, and watching you do this? I would venture to answer "no" to all of these questions, and this is an EXTREMELY short example of the work we do. I challenge you to seek out your local fire department, and go talk to these men and women that protect you and your family members day in and day out. Most of them have a Ride a Long program and that may be a great place for you to start so you can be exposed to these couch surfers and lazy professionals. But when it takes 15 minutes to get help when your house is on fire or your cat is stuck in a tree, remember it could take 5 minutes if you voted "yes" instead of "no". It's like insurance, you pay for us whether you need us or not, but we are always there no matter what. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year no exceptions.
Robert
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:00am
Jeff: Budget issues are real and there is plenty of blame to be spread around. Every state, county, town has special interest organizations or groups who depend on handouts. Firefighters and other public servants (police, emts, ect.) are easily dismissed as a waste of funding until you need them. I can not speak for police but being in the fire service I cannot think of a more connected and devoted group of people who selflessly serve complete strangers. We constantly fight for funding to keep our gear and equipment up to date, being a 100% volunteer staffed this is extremely economical for our county. I understand this is not the case in all places but there are far more volunteer than career firefighters. As with all Government run organizations there is money that could be saved but the picture you paint of the American firefighter and policeman is greatly flawed. I would encourage you to focus your budgetary articles on the increasing number of spineless politicians who have found themselves in the best job they have ever had and would not stand up for any principal that could jeopardize reelection. The lack of principals and real progress in the government is a disappointment. Our government should focus on what it was created to do, and not how to suffocate business and support those who choose not to do. To your point, I think infrastructure and transportation is very important and the bridge should be budgeted, but bashing public servants isn't the place to find the solution. Take a field trip and find a station that has not read your article and will allow you to spend some time with them. I think if you spend some time with a quality department, you will realize your ignorance in publishing this garbage.
Duane
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:38am
Robert, Have you ever heard a politician claim that the moment there is a funding problem they will claim fire and police services will be harmed, when in true they just want more money so their pet project, spending, will not be cut. That has been true for the time I can remember. Mr. Polet's article seemed to me more about attacking political 'sacred cows' and using the fore service as an example of one. You suggest Mr. Polet visit a firehouse, I would offer that the fire dept. need to better sell their services and their expertise to their communities. By all appearances fires, especially residencial and those involving loss of life have been declining, if that is the case then the fore departments need to help the public better understand the changing nature of their service and become more interactive with the public. And I believe it is more than your view of simply making a visit to a firehouse. When the only view people have of an organization is how they see it in a breif news article, in the movies, their view wll be narrow and bias by the sources. Any/all organizations should include the education/awareness of others are part of what they do. One effective tool is turning employees into ambassadors for the organuzation, giving them the knowledge and support to talk about what they do and how they it when ever the opportunity presents itself. I suspect Mr. Polet's preception are reflective of a growing perception, attacking him will not change it. There needs to be an open discussion about the service. The discussion with this article is an opprtunity to help enlighten people, which seems to have deteriorated into personal attacks. I am surpised no one has mentioned how firefighters are trained in hazardous response and how they could assist people/businesses to assess their situations and lower their risks. I have to admit it is easier to respond with emotion than taking the time to assess the situation, think though about a response, and then act. I wonder who gets that type of training.
Justin
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:36pm
Duane, The fact is that doing a ride-a-long on a fire apparatus is the only true way to see what we do. I grew up in a firefighter house, my father is a firefighter, my uncles were, most of my friends' fathers were. I heard the stories around the dinner table night after night. I spent my entire life being "educated" about the fire service, the close calls, the big saves, the sleepless nights, the frustrations, the excitement, the adrenaline rush, the bad calls, the sadness, I heard it all directly from the source. Yet, still, I had no clue what I was in for until my first day on the job. For anyone to understand the struggles we face or the job we do, they need to be there and see it with their own eyes. To write an article condemning us as "sacred cows" you need to experience it first hand, and realize we don't have the luxury of viewing budgets as abstract numbers or cost cutting measures. Suggesting Mr. Polet or anyone else who shares his views ride a tour with us is absolutely the right thing to do. He needs to feel the fear we do when advancing a line down a pitch black hallway, praying the 2nd due engine arrives and makes the hydrant before you run out of water. He needs to feel the heat and smoke pushing you down to the floor, waiting for the truck company to vent the roof, praying the room doesn't flash. When budget cuts are made that force stations to close, apparatus have slower response times, if they are able to come at all, rescue companies are forced to split up and search entire floors by themselves when their manning is cut. People die. It's as simple as that,
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:14am
Justin, I have never made a fire run, but I have been involved in training exercises for hazardous chemical response. I have seen the knowledge and skills that the firefighters needed. I have seen how they were displined in assessing the situations, developing action plans, then taking action. I understand the knowledge of materials, equipment, response methods, displine that they demostrated. Since I have some experience with these types of situations I am surprised you feel that people can't fully appreciate the knowledge and skills firefights need unless making a fire run with them. I do believe the politicians have created a 'sacred cow' mindset to protect other funding issues. I believe the firefighters role has changed just as the technology they use has changed. I believe all functions and services should recieve scrutiny to help them stay current in an ever changing environment. This is not inconflict with my respect for and value I place on the firefighters role/responsiblities. I have found more times than not that those organizations which resist scrutiny (wanting to be treated as sacred) are the ones that most need it. I have found that a common cause for this resistance is due to a reliance on historical practices and/or a lack of confidence that they are current and effective. I appreciate the risks associated with firfighting, I appreciate the personal fortitude it can take to confront fighting a fire, controlling an overturned tanker of hazardous material, but that doesn't mean that the functions an organization provides or the challenges those people delievering the critial service should somehow be considered exempt from continous assessment to encourage change and continus improvement from strutiny or exempt from external scrutiny. I have learned that the emotion of fear is not a valid reason to avoid a disciplined analysis of the function or activity. I would offer there are other roles that involve high risk tasks the can cause fear, and they have been made more effective, raised survival, and made them more effective because of dispassionate review of practices. It seems you see money as only a number, I see it as other people's time. That helps me keep in perspective my concern about how that money/time is spent. I know that is not a comon point of view and many times has placed me at odds with others, but it reminds me of the value of disipline scrutiny and breaking down the 'sacred cow' mindset.
Justin
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 3:18pm
I completed basic training and several combat/combat lifesaver courses during my time in the service. However, I was a mechanic so I never saw combat Having been through the initial training, does that give me the knowledge so speak about combat as if I had been there myself? Because I went through several of the same courses as a combat medic, do I have the experience to speak about their struggles and what they do or do not need on the battlefield? Can I now saw I know what it's like to be shot at or have a weapon malfunction while under fire or to look down the barrel at another human being and pull the trigger? NO, Absolutely not. I was never down range, only the men and women that were have earned the right to speak about it and claim to know the dangers and responsibilities. Just like someone that has never been in a structure fire and depended on their brothers to do their jobs well and get them all out alive has no real experience to draw from and make educated decisions for a departments individual needs. You say decisions must be based on something other than fear. I argue against that every decision we make inside a fire or on a medical call or at an auto extrication is based on fear. The fear of the consequences of inadequate job performance, inexperience, or equipment failure. Mr. Polet does not have a career in which fear of layoffs could result in lives loss, fear of stations closing could result in lives lost, fear of apparatus brown outs could result in lives lost. Mr. Polet is able to speak freely about our profession, and attack it on a level that is personal to us, because he has not and will most likely be never faced with that fear. Mr. Polet chose a profession in which failure is still an option. When a tenured professor fails at a given task, he is afforded the opportunity to correct and move on. When we fail, people die. When our department budget fails us and we do not have adequate manpower or adequate equipment, people die.
Duane
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 6:38pm
Justin, I believe that decisions in high stress situations that you reference are best made not out of fear but when fear is managed. I see fear as something that warns you of your personal risks, while decisions in those situations have to be made inspite of those personal risks to achieve the desired outcomes. I would offer that a person doesn't have to experience specific events or situations to make an educated assessment of what is involve, identify a process/protocol to follow in those types of situations, or to recommend changes that could make actions in those situations more effective. Whether or not you have experienced the fear in a given situation does preclude a person from being thoughtful about the situation and being able to contribute to identifying changes to protocols that would improve the outcut. Just as, having survived such stressful situations does not ensure that a person will make better decisions in similar situations or that they would be able to advise others how to do things better. I feel that well planned training is one of the best tools for helping a person survive such stressful environments. Have the best tools for the task and being taugh how to use them in the high risk situation. The design of the tools and the training of how to use those tools does not require those designer or teachers have had to experience the fear in the situations you describe to be effective in preparing people who will go into those situations.
Brad
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:11am
As a Fire Chief, I do agree that the fire department should be under examination during the budget process. I have been in the fire service 24 years and have seen departments with large, inflated budgets that are simply out of line with the needs of that department. The salaries are ridiculous and the staffing levels are laughable. I have also seen the opposite; departments that have to go to the community for donations of toiletries and simple day to day items. Where they are fighting 300% more fires than the "rich" fire department with 1/3 of the staff per firetruck. (Detroit is a glaring example). ((Every public official should watch the documentary "Burn". It is a look inside how a failing city and crumbling public budget is destroying a city and its services)). The problem comes in when, administrators such as myself, have to explain why we need what we need to a body of people that, for the most part, have little understanding of what I am talking about. Some fire administrators take advantage of that and exploit the ignorance of the legislature to stockpile money. Those are the groups that promote the misunderstanding and misinformation. The hard fact is that there is a certain level of personnel and money needed to do this job safely. That is a fact and it cannot be denied. You need to have the personnel to keep you crews safe during firefighting activities. I have to have the correct amount of people to save the crew inside the burning building if something goes wrong. His mention of fire "containment" is an interesting one because the greatest portion of fires are started by human error. Fire prevention programs are developed for that very reason and are a regular part of the daily activities of a fire department. As well as fire inspection. (Both items are highly dependent on the budget. If the money isn't there, they don't get done). (The decline in fire in the City of New York is a direct result of the fire safety programs in place through the department and the building inspection program also in place. The increase in budget is because we are forced to pay $500,000 for a firetruck that costs $300,000 to build). As far as the Boston Bombing is concerned, that event was staffed with an over abundance of professional responders that quickly went into action. The bombing happened less that a mile from 6 Level 1 trauma centers so the patient load was absorbed into the hospital system before the emergency plan was fully underway. Anyway, I digress, the fact of the matter is that the needs of the emergency services are very different in every community. You cannot make broad statements that the firemen are over funded and over paid without looking at each city and each budget. As I stated earlier, some are way out of line to the positive but most are working below what they need to safely do their jobs. We serve our communities proudly and with the determination to do our jobs no matter how often we are told that we are over paid or unworthy of our benefits. Ask yourself these things: Is the money we spend on our fire, police and emergency medical service in line with the needs of those departments? Does my tax revenue sustain what I need to spend on the above departments? Do I see fires burning out my window? Are there criminals waiting to do me harm when I walk out the door? Are the sick and injured just lying about, not getting the care they need? If you don't know the answer to all of those questions then you should not be making assumptions about what a firefighter, police officer or emergency medical technician does or needs.
B Rob
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:14am
If you have to dial 911, it's one of the worst days of your life. To Ryan, well put Brother.
Sean A
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:18am
Mr. Polet, I have many issues with your article. While I first agreed with you that public service agencies should not be immune from cut backs in the current economy, I take serious issue with the way you have portrayed the fire service and have inferred that you have knowledge of how the fire service works. In your article you state that the term first responder is a misnomer and you cite the Boston bombing as an example. What you fail to realize is that for large events like the Boston Marathon fire and EMS personnel are staged at these events so that they can render help as quickly as possible. You state that all of the hard work is done prior to fire and ems arrival. In an urban fire and EMS system like Bostons, response times are usually within a few minutes and I truly doubt "all the hard work" is done by the time fire and ems personnel arrive. You then go on to state that the main function of a firefighter is to contain fires. While containing fires is one of the many functions of a firefighter I would argue that the main function of a firefighter is to be an all hazards responder who is able to mitigate any situation they are called upon to handle. These situations can include medical calls, motor vehicle accidents and hazardous materials responses to name a few. You then go on to say that fire prevention is not one of the main functions of a firefighter. As a firefighter I can tell you that you can not be further from the truth. Many fire departments have programs in place to go to elementary schools every year and teach fire safety. Also when I respond to non-fire related calls at peoples homes I make it a point to ensure they have working smoke detectors and if they are using unsafe practices ( overloading sockets) I advise them against these practices. I would also like to address your comments on 9/11. Your statement that "The people who were saved in the towers were almost exclusively saved by people in the towers" is deplorable. 343 FDNY firefighters died in those towers that day with the main mission of rescuing civilians and many civilians were saved that day by these men. Your reference to firefighters looting stores on 9/11 is extraordinary muckraking on your part trying to enhance your articles point. How you are able to sit there and attempt to tarnish the legacy of a person who died on that day saving civilians and your citation is solely based on hearsay that has no physical proof and many people rebutting it is beyond me. I would like to conclude with asking you to provide the sources you used to write this article. I know a man of your stature and education would never write an article with out research. Sadly I would assume your sources are mostly uninformed opinions of you and your colleagues who have never set foot in a firehouse or spoken to a firefighter. If you took them time to research the topic you would realize its not all card games around the table and sitting on the couch all day at the firehouse, its much more than that.
Josh
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:25am
You sir are an idiot. Im a firefighter...but thats not it, im a firefighter, an EMT, a rescue tech, a hazmat tech, and guess what i work for a dept running just 8 stations, last year alone running over 9,000 calls. For $24,000 a year, i work another job, have a family and love what i do. My off time? I also volunteer to firefight. I help and protect people just like your sorry ass. But were not good enough for you? Hope your house never burns to the ground or you need help from an "over valued" firefighter.
Dennis Donehoo
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:54am
Your myopic and uneducated view of the American fire service undermines your thesis and ultimately the argument this public safety service should receive more scrutiny at budget time. In fact, when compared to other governmental services, the fire service is one of the best deals in town. I am a retired firefighter paramedic from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department (FRD) in Virginia, near Washington, DC. Here is what the taxpayers get for their investment. Anywhere in this County of over 1 million citizens, if your house is on fire an engine company with four trained firefighters will arrive in less than 5 minutes, and advance a hose line into the structure, to extinguish the fire, conduct a primary search of the house, and evacuate and provide advanced life support to any victims. Three additional engine companies, a ladder company, a heavy rescue squad and advanced life support unit with and additional 21 firefighters will arrive is less than 10 minutes to support the first arriving engine. That is what the fire service is all about. Conducting interior fire attacks to allow rescue and evacuation of residents. During a recent house fire Fairfax County firefighters successfully rescued the owner and four of his dogs. Without the fire department, this man would have died of smoke inhalation. But wait, there is more! Fairfax County FRD provide Emergency Medical Services to all citizens with the capability to provide advanced life support within 5 minutes of the call for assistance, with transportation to the hospital. The EMS calls include heart attacks, cardiac arrests, asthma attacks, poisoning and overdoses, seizures, diabetic hypoglycemia, strokes, pediatric emergencies, trauma including injuries from motor vehicle crashes, stabbings, shootings, falls, assaults, construction accidents, industrial accidents, and any other incident which causes trauma to the human body. Paramedics provide life saving advanced life support to these patients and the results are saved lives, better medical treatment and improved quality of life. You really want to see these guys walking through the door if you are having crushing chest pain, or if your child has stopped breathing. But wait, there is more! The Fairfax County FRD has a Hazardous Materials team with the capability to respond to any hazardous materials incident including Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) agents used in a terrorist attack, transportation accidents involving railroad and highway tankers containing toxic industrial chemicals such as chlorine, toluene, ammonia, bases and acids, hydrazine, flammable liquids, and anhydrous ammonia. They are trained to make entry and evacuate citizens from the hot zone, identify the hazardous material, perform positive mitigation of the hazardous material leak or exposure, and decontaminate everyone who has been in contact with the hazardous material. This team is handy to have when you have a tanker with toxic chemicals flipped on an Interstate. But wait, there is more! The Fairfax County FRD has an internationally recognized Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team which responded to numerous overseas incidents including earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and other large scale disasters. The team, Urban Search and Rescue Team VA-Task Force 1, is recognized for response within the United States by FEMA, and for international response by the Department of State USAID. They have responded to terrorist attacks in Africa, earthquakes in the Philippines, Turkey, Taiwan, and the Tsunami in Japan. They responded to the terrorist attack at the Pentagon on 9/11/01. The team responds to technical rescue incidents within the County including trench rescues, confined space rescues, building collapses, swift water rescue and high angle rescue using rope systems. But wait, there is more! The Fairfax County FRD has an Office of Chief Fire Marshal which is responsible for conducting fire safety inspections for the thousands of commercial buildings and places of public assembly within the County These inspections include those for initial occupancy and annual inspections. The thorough inspections include tests for the fire alarm systems, sprinkler systems, fire pumps, clear paths of egress, The FM Office also conducts all arson investigations, collects evidence, interviews witnesses, and assists in the prosecution of arson suspects. Most urban and suburban fire departments in this nation are comparable to Fairfax County FRD in that they have multiple missions. Fire Departments missions include fire attack and suppression, fire prevention, Emergency Medical Services, hazardous materials response and technical rescue response. Your uninformed essay does not recognize this important fact, thus rendering your histrionic claims of "most of the hard work was completed before the arrival of firefighters at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Boston Marathon", and "government officials being latecomers to a crisis" as being totally without merit and in fact false. The fact that you are a college professor, and appear to have made no effort to research the mission of the fire service before you wrote this essay is puzzling to say the least.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:58am
Dear jeffery. Your are the reason that america is the way that it is. You talk all this shit about fireman and policemen that you would depend on in a second if your life was in danger. Maybe there not busy every second of there shift but by god when they are needed at a house fire or a shooting they respond and are willing to risk their life for dumb people like you. They dont care about your lifestyle of what you say about them. They do their JOB. I am a firefighter and I know what its like to sit with all these budget cuts take place and all its doing is hurting the community. I promise that if you cant stand behind us you can more then happily stand in front of us. Its ignorant of you to say that first responders are on scene last. Please tell me some crap thats believable. Just because they dont have a damn time machine and get that as soon as it happens give you no right to down grade them like you do. I hope that the men ans women in your city or town read this and know who you are. I hope that they never forget you and when it comes the time when your in need that they dont do a damn thing for you. I hope you open your eyes to reality and quit being a self center piece of s***. In my little town of about 15000 people we are respected for what we do. People understand the sacrifices that we make for our community. We leave our familys in the middle of the night to go cut a young daughter out of a car which whom we have never me but it doesnt matter, we care!! We risk our lives every single day while you sit behind your little ass desk and do nothing but criticize the people who work their ass off to save ignorant people like you!!!!!!!
Rob
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:12pm
Talk about too much time on your hands! I take exception with his car seat comment. My department does car seat checks and I have many new parents that struggle with PROPERLY AND SAFELY putting in car seats. Not to mention that my FD talks to over 1,200 kids and adults each year about fire prevention. Professor Misinformed obviously has an axe (pun intended) to grind and A LOT of time on his hands. Funny thing is if his house caught fire tonight firefighters would still risk their lives to rescue him and his family. Honestly, don't give people like this much time or thought. I feel bad for his wife and kids. I can't imagine he is well respected within his household or that they feel safe with him…except from the things that you can throw money at. Truth is there are a lot of bad things in the world that well worded stories, an education, and a lucrative teaching salary won’t keep you safe from. Those things require courage and the intrepidness of a firefighter, cop, or EMT/paramedic. You can’t explain that to someone that thinks this way. They will never get it and they don’t want to get it.
Jim
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:49pm
He's from Holland, enough said! Typical ignorant European who knows nothing about the Fire Service in the US. What a waste of read!
Bri
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:23pm
Jim, He is from Holland Mi. Hope Collage is located there. He is very ignorant about what we do!
Rob Dale
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:03am
Just so we are clear, Holland Michigan has no connection to Europe. Other than being on the same planet :)

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