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.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

If you learned something from the story you're reading please consider supporting our work. Your donation allows us to keep our Michigan-focused reporting and analysis free and accessible to all. All donations are voluntary, but for as little as $1 you can become a member of Bridge Club and support freedom of the press in Michigan during a crucial election year.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Dear Reader: We value your thoughts and criticism on the articles, but insist on civility. Criticizing comments or ideas is welcome, but Bridge won’t tolerate comments that are false or defamatory or that demean, personally attack, spread hate or harmful stereotypes. Violating these standards could result in a ban.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.


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
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.
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?
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...
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.
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?
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:39am
Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach.
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.
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!!!!
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.
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!
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 :)
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 12:54pm
I see the fire service as insurance. You don't need it 90% of the time but when you do need them your very glad you paid for that insurance. Speaking of insurance. Why not think about how much $$ fire departments save the insurance industry by "containing" these fires. Billions of $$ per year Id imagine, if not more. Thus keeping insurance premiums down. Makes sense, No? How about when you can't extricate yourself from a burning home or your neighbor doesn't know what to do? I fireman with a ladder would be a welcome sight, wouldn't it. Or a fireman who pulls your family out of a wrecked vehicle and performs cpr on your 5 y/o son and saves his life? This does not happen everyday in one town, but Im sure a fireman saves someone everyday somewhere in this great nation. Id almost guarantee it. Insurance my friend. Everyone says its a necessary evil, why not firemen? same concept.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 1:35pm
One of the biggest mistakes has been the labeling of fire figters and police as 'first responders'. They are not first responders. They are police officers and fire fighters. A first responder is the citizen that shows up with a fire extinguisher to attempt to control a fire. A boy scout that knows first aide and helps a person that has been hit by a car. Or the people that initially run to the aid of those that were victims of the Boston Bombing. A person that steps in during a store robbery to atempt to subdue the criminal. Fire Fighters and Police Officers bring a whole lot more to the table. They are not there to just start the process and stabilize it. They finish the job. Yes, first responders make a great difference in the outcome of many emergencies. But when they stuff really hits the fan you better hope the professionals are on the way.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 2:04pm
It takes a particular coward to criticize policies they don't understand especially when they pertain to places they don't have the courage to go. paraphrasing an FDNY chief testifying about a similar no nothing with an audience. You keep pretending you have a clue as to what I do, what I face or what I might face in my next tour, I'll keep going all out for anyone that calls 911
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 2:42pm
Jeff, I have been in the fire service for going on 18 years,.... yes the fire service has changed and yes were are asked to do more with less. I would like to invite you to come to Cincinnati Ohio and ride with me on my 24 hour shift to see how the fire service is and I will also pay for you to come here.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 3:32pm
As a firefighter for the past twenty years, I could easily look at this article on the surface and allow it to bother me, but there's no need. I personally hate being called, or being viewed as, a hero. I'm trained to do a certain job, and although it's perhaps a little more dangerous and a little different than what most people earn a paycheck doing, I'm still just doing my job. Furthermore, firefighters despise the term "first responder" - something that was bestowed on public safety officials by the media in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. There are few, if any, fire departments in the US that haven't met the same budget constraints that the other sectors of local government. No matter if located in a right-to-work or union state, it's been impossible for fire departments to escape very real (and sometimes needed) evaluation of their budgets over the past five years. Whether we, as fire service personnel, like it or not, the above article reflects the feelings of many of the taxpayers in the US right now. While there has been a national downward trend in the number of fires nationwide, the responsibilities of the American fire service has grown exponentially. Medical calls account from anywhere of 50-70% of fire department responses for most of the nation, and the fire department has become the de facto response agency for every problem that could arise - unusual odors, gas leaks, water leaks, trees into houses, people trapped in and under cars and machinery, vehicle accidents, people trapped above grade, and everything else that you could imagine. Just because most places haven't dropped the name "fire department" for something that reflects their jobs a little bit better doesn't mean that their job descriptions haven't also changed to meet the demands of their customers. One of the problems with the strong and active fire prevention efforts that are in place across the nation is that there's no means to capture data of how many fires were prevented. Yes, the number of fires are down, but we don't have reliable figures to see if this is due to fire prevention efforts, building codes, early detection through alarm systems, or a combination of any of these. I've often said that it's up to the local taxpayers to decide how much they're willing to pay for fire protection. If the local fire service is good at their jobs, meet the public's expectations, is transparent in their jobs, then they'll continue to receive funding. Conversely, there are many fire departments across the US that haven't gotten funding they need or desire because the public doesn't feel like it's needed. Education is the key - firefighters need to understand the thought processes of those who fund us, and the taxpayers need to have a better understanding of what the "fire" department does in the community, aside from responding to fires.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 4:03pm
This article started well and ended weak. YES there should be a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to municipal services, even police and fire "safety" roles. To gratuitously add that there were unproven allegations of looting of stores in the WTC by some firemen while people were attempting to escape cheapened his other points. There are bad operators everywhere, but I highly doubt the veracity of those claims. I was under the impression that college professors required proof over speculation and hyperbole. Well he got my attention. In the future I will view his comments with a jaundiced eye.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 5:10pm
because no one would complain is they laid off the tax collectors, the fire department is the only government service that will always respond imminently to ever call for service no mater who you are. the fire service and law enforcement are the critical functions government everything else is free candy to get politicians reelected
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 5:27pm
This is my first time viewing this web site. I can only imagine the pleasure that those who passed right to work legislation must feel, as one person from one set of public workers attacks another from a different group. It is hardly an accident that police and firefighters are exempt from RTW. Their unions were not as active politically as teachers and state workers, consequently they pose less of a threat to our state politicians. Perhaps exempting police and firefighters would drive a wedge and split people who should be working together. That sure seems to be working.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 7:46pm
Not all firefighters and police officers are exempt from RTW. I'm employed in a RTW state and am not providing any bargaining rights or other union-associated benefits - nor is any other career firefighter in the state.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 6:28pm
My brother and I are fourth generation firefighters and proud of it. I've never heard anyone say that they are a fourth generation political science teacher and proud of it. And I don't know anyone who will even admit that they have a relative who is a journalist.
Rob Dale
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:04am
Political science didn't exist 4 generations ago, and if the family member that's a journalist is ashamed of his job he should find another media outlet.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 7:28pm
This article is one of the most irresponsible, manipulative, falsified pieces of journalism I have ever had the displeasure of coming across. Mr. Polet, you obviously haven't the faintest clue what it is firefighters do; or worse, if you are aware, declined to speak the truth about it. Yes, it is true that the number of structure fires have declined over the years. However, what has not declined is the amount of materials in structures that give off toxic chemicals when burning. What has not declined are the evolving methods of constructions in residential buildings which cause structural members to burn and fail faster than before. What has certainly not declined is the amount of time we have to safely find trapped occupants and remove them from a deadly environment and suppress the fire to prevent it from spreading to adjacent buildings. What has not declined is the amount of TOTAL calls (ie not fire) departments respond to on a daily basis. An overwhelming majority of fire department responses are for EMS. Indeed, the number of EMS calls we respond to has been on a steady incline. These types of calls include vehicle accidents, heart attacks, strokes, stabbings, shootings, various assaults, allergic reactions, asthma attacks, etc. The list goes on infinitely. As an example, the rig I am assigned to responds to an average of 18 calls per day. Note, that is not my station, not my department, just one solitary rig. What you fail to realize is firefighters are not limited to firefighting; we are EMTs or Paramedics, we are hazmat technicians, we are confined space and high angle rescue technicians. As new technologies develop, as new methods of providing EMS are created, as hazardous materials and various dangers become commonplace, our education must continue. Most firefighters have 100s of hours of college credits in continuing education in an effort to keep up with the every growing demands of our profession. No we are not heroes, we don't save lives on every call, we aren't asked to sacrifice our own lives on a daily basis, but the fact that we are training, ready, and willing to do so remains. We also make many other sacrifices the general public is shielded from, what we do see on a daily basis is death, child abuse, suicide, elder abuse, ODs, shootings, stabbings. We see the best and the worst humanity has to offer every shift. We see things we wish we could forget, things we struggle to deal with, things we can never take home and share with our children. While you are home enjoying a Christmas dinner with your family (I missed my daughter's first Christmas this past year while at work) we are on our knees doing CPR in a gas station bathroom, we are trying to avoid the needles on the floor from an overdose, we are holding a lonely old ladies hand in the back of an ambulance trying to comfort her and calm her worst fears, we are the only solace she will find. I do this for 31k a year. I know I'll never be rich, but I love what I do. I have heard statements such as "they spend all day just polishing their trucks" several times. The fact is, we don't wash our trucks and engines all day, but yes, we do take pride in them. Please forgive us for taking pride in our job. We do take meticulous care of our rigs because the taxpayers pay for them and that is what they deserve to see on our streets. We know the cost of a new engine is upwards of $300,000 and the cost of a new ladder can often surpass 1 million. We don't want to burden taxpayers with new rigs, so we take the best care we can of them. We know that when we pull up in front of a burning building, there is no time for a pump or bucket to fail, lives depend on us maintaining our equipment to the highest standard. Isn't that what you expect for the apparatus and equipment your (and our) taxes pay for? Would you accept any less? Forgive me, I know this has been long winded and somewhat rambling, that's why I don't write for a living. But I will leave you with a very short story of Christmas 2013. This does not involve heroism, or making the ultimate sacrifice, just us doing what we love to do. Our department responded to a small fire shortly after 10pm. Upon arrival, there was no smoke or fire visible, and we knew the reports stated fire on the second floor. After stretching a line we found the fire in a small furnace room in the back apartment, and quickly extinguish it. There was no sensational Hollywood action sequences, nothing terribly heroic, it was just us doing well what we are trained to do. A few days later, while grocery shopping, a little boy recognized me from that fire and said thank you for saving his house and saving his family's Christmas. You see, that is why we do it. That is why we ask our budget to include enough manpower, training, and equipment to do our job safely and efficiently. To you, it may seem like nothing, to us, it was a very very miniscule fire. But to that boy, and to his mother, it was everything.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 7:30pm
You are an ignorant asshole.
Leslie Chow
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 7:42pm
Its always some pencil-neck like Jeff Polet who has likely never put himself in harms way of anything to take a shot at those who do it for a living.
Steve H
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:00pm
One more "fact" that may have been missed. When you downsize your fire protection services you may save some of your tax dollars but you better save all that money, plus more, for your increased property liability insurance premiums. Your insurance companies will not pick up the added liability on the changed protection levels for the properties they are insuring. I promise you that.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:09pm
I guess because you are a professor you think you know all there is to the fire service, you are sadly mistaken!!!
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 8:17pm
Thankfully we all live under the same Constitution, and the same Amendments, in this case protection under the first Amendment which prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. To think that this Political Science Professor would write the following only goes to prove that the PETER PRINCIPAL is in effect.. "that people will tend to be promoted until they reach their "position of incompetence". : "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."...........HELLO FIRST RESPONDERS!!! RESPONDERS means they are responding to and not at the location to which they are responding!!!! The "esteemed" professor is entitled to his own viewpoints and opinions, however this is the same professor who wrote another article entitled "The ubiquity of propaganda obscures the American military's true role" in which his thesis is that our support of and for those in the military is over reaching, troubling and wrong...thus writing: "I attended a Nationals game in Washington last spring, and was struck by the frequent military invocations and the omnipresent rituals of civil religion. My guess is that if many Americans observed other countries engaged in these practices we would be skeptical and concerned." Professor, you use multiple multi syllabic words in your rants, however that does not mean that "we,the proletariat" cannot look up those words and understand your intent and slant. Your ability to stimulate thought in others might be genuine, however your stances and issues you present indicate an unhappy and unfulfilled individual who lacks a sense of pride and accomplishment within their lives' journey, you lack the insight necessary to recognize the importance of those willing to sacrifice their lives so that others might live.
Garrett Lindgren
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:43pm
After reading Mr. Polet's story, I am immediately reminded of the saying, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.". Let's take a look at Mr. Polet's MYTHS followed in each case by the TRUTH: MYTH #1: 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. TRUTH #1: Law Enforcement, Fire-Rescue & EMS personnel were on scene before, during and after the Boston bombing and these first responders provided IMMEDIATE, PROFESSIONAL, LIFE SAVING CARE. On 9/11/2001 the N.Y.C. Fire Dept. (FDNY) was on scene IMMEDIATELY. Engine Co. 10 & Ladder Co. 10 are stationed directly across the street from the WTC and they along with hundreds of firefighters, law enforcement and EMS personnel responded to the scene IMMEDIATELY. MYTH #2: "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." TRUTH #2: The main function of firefighters is to save lives and protect property. Fire prevention activities are a part of the daily work of firefighters in the way of performing building inspections, providing and installing smoke detectors in residences as well as educating the public on fire safety related issues. MYTH #3: "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." TRUTH #3: Downtime is not something that firefighters have to contend with very often. In addition to responding to fires, rescues (trench, high angle, building collapse, confined space, underwater, ice, swift water, victim extrication's from vehicle crashes), medical emergencies, hazardous materials emergencies, terrorist attacks, utility emergencies (electrical, gas, water), false alarms and automatic alarms. Firefighters are required to: participate in continuing education in everyone of their skill areas (firefighting, rescue, EMS, hazardous materials), perform daily routine maintenance on their fire apparatus as well as the massive inventory of equipment mounted on it, perform building inspections and flow test and perform preventative maintenance on all hydrants within their district. Finally, firefighters also provide services such as checking people's blood pressures and yes, even PROPERLY installing car seats (this has become necessary due to the FACT that frequently firefighters responding to vehicle crashes have found infants and small children seriously injured or killed due to their car seat having not been installed properly. MYTH #4: "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." TRUTH #4: The FDNY today has less fire companies, less members of the uniformed force and less firefighters assigned to each fire unit than they did in the 1960's. In the 10 years prior to 9/11 the FDNY responses went up from 358,713 to 444,148. MYTH #5: "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." TRUTH #5: The FDNY's average response time to fires and emergencies is approximately 4 minutes from time of dispatch until time of arrival of the 1st FDNY unit. Firefighting is a job that requires intelligence, bravery, physical strength and endurance, toughness and compassion. Firefighters go to work everyday knowing that there is a good chance that they will be directly exposed to extreme danger. The dedication of our nation's first responders is matched only by that of our armed forces. Many of the first responders who were killed on 9/11/01 were off duty that day, yet they responded immediately, knowing full well that this incident was likely to kill many of them. Apparently when some political science 'professors' go to work, they simply sit down at their computer and manufacture stories for their readers. Actually doing the research necessary to provide folks with the truth would be too much like actual work which is something that 'professor' Jeffrey Polet seems to have an aversion to.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 1:14pm
Also in response to myth #4, remember that in the decade before 9/11 the FDNY absorbed EMS into their budget from the Health and Hospitals Corporation. Again don't ever let the truth get in the way of a good story, or some political hack trying to make a name for themselves.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 9:48pm
The author of the article is correct in the fact that first responders are not "first" on the scene to a lot of emergencies. My response to this is: If you want first responders to be at the emergency when it occurs, call them well before the emergency happens. This will give the first responders ample time to respond, arrive, set up, and stop the emergency from happening. An emergency is a serious, UNEXPECTED, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action. The "down time' that most first responders have has changed in the last decade. The days of watching television, playing cards, or sleeping are in the past. With more and more services being provided by first responders, class room training, hands on training, physical conditioning, certification testing, and public services (fire prevention), takes up most of their day. Not to mention the calls that they respond to. I challenge the author to spend a month or two riding with a first responder agency and see the destruction, and stress that is involved with the daily activities of the first responder. That is my opinion. I welcome yours.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:12pm
I think he is an ignorant asshole too. I couldn't say it better. We just had a fire in our neighborhood last year. There was smoke throughout our house. The firefighters were awesome. They even saved our goldfish. They went running around looking for a cat for at least an hour. It turned out that it was outside but still they tried to make the effort. I think anyone Who makes fun of firefighters is not very smart. In fact they are dumb. What next mister Polet? Garbage men?
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 10:21pm
Tell your story to the guy's house we saved a week ago, but putting out his garage fire before it spread to the rest of his house. Or the Company that we put out the fire in their manufacturing area, before it spread to their records and main production area. Tell that to the multiple people we did CPR on last year and saved! Tell that to the family we used extrication tools to cut out of a car, or the hundreds of others that we provided EMS care to. Your opinion is a typical short sighted, self serving example of a person that is willing to abolish our infrastructure to sell articles or books. You come off sounding so profound when you talk about the amount of time we "fight fires". Well tell ya what, move to an area that doesn't have any fire department and see how long your opinion lasts when a wildland fire burns down your entire town, or a simple car accident results in the deaths of 3 or 4 people because no one was there, trained, equipped and ready to save them. I m not whining, just trying to get you to think before you write something just to get attention. Good luck.
Mon, 03/03/2014 - 11:04pm
"Only 3.8 percent of the responses by Holland’s fire department." What about the other 96.2%? Well 9.1% comes from false alarms, were the fire department was responding as if it were a fire. Service calls, such as checking out leaking gas lines, etc account for 7.2%. Oh, and 66.3% come from medical emergencies. Responding to you and yours quickly when you need it. Almost 3,000 calls in one year. They are doing it on the bare minimum of staffing. Do better research. Source of Holland City Fire Department calls for 2012http://www.cityofholland.com/sites/default/files/fileattachments/annrep2...
ltfd seattle
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 12:42am
That was a rather sophomoric effort for a college professor. Poorly supported arguments, inaccurate statistics, questionable terminology ("Fireman"- the term is Firefighter, which encompasses both genders that perform firefighting, rescue, special hazard mitigation, emergency medicine, code enforcement and public education duties). While I would give your piece a grade of 70%, I acknowledge your right to spout-off. I just would expect MUCH more from someone with a Masters Degree.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 6:34am
Sometimes to much education makes you stupid. Thats all im going to say.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 8:06am
With all you EMS people out there, Just curious what is the divide? Do 20, 10, 5% percent of residents make up 70%, 80, 60% of fire/EMS calls? What do you see out there? Most things in life work out this way, and I've seen enough to make me suspect this carries through to your world.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 10:25am
Matt, The fire service does not track this kind of data and your concrn about who uses the system and "how much" is irrelevant anyway. Simple logic would tell you that older, sicker people with a chronic illness probably access the health care system (of which EMS is a part) more frequently than young healthy individuals. The important point is that access to the system is available to anyone and everyone whenever it may be needed.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 9:55am
It always amazes me how the cowards who hide in classrooms, always seem to have the answers to what everyone else is doing. Teachers are spectators in life. It's easy to sit in your classroom, never getting yor hands dirty, never getting blood on your shoes. You are more than welcome to come to the firehouse with me anytime you want. How about Christmas Day? Coward.
Steven S.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 2:22pm
Sir, congratulations ion achieving your 20 minutes of fame. By the end of the week nobody will remember who you are, nor will they care. I am a firefighter. Myth or not, people will always be happy to see me. As a college educated person, I recall a similar disdain for arrogant self-righteous college professors as you have expressed for firefighters. At least the feeling was mutual.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 5:57pm
Duane, I agree, fire departments and police departments shouldn't be exempt from budget cuts. But maybe politicians and professors shouldn't be exempt as well. When was the last time you heard a university lay off professors? They just raise your tuition. When was the last time you heard of a politician getting laid off or not getting a pay raise? You could probably find a lot of extra money if you cut a few of them. Not saying the article isn't entirely incorrect, but maybe he should have done his research on the leaches of this county first (the politicians).
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 6:27pm
Can we all please back up and look at this objectively? First, if you read the bestseller 102 minutes, you will find that on the mezzanine of one of the towers there were scores of firefighters. They were sitting around doing nothing. They were urged by the police to get the hell out of the tower because the police radios told them that again a tower was about to collapse. The firefighters ignored the police because they didn't like the police. Well over 100 firefighters died then and there. They were completely arrogant at the time and by the sound of this website, they continue to be arrogant today. I note with interest that they boycotted the recent memorial service of 9/11. Who the hell boycotts a memorial based on the fact that they are not given enough credit? These people are babies and should be called on it. Second can we agree that it is in the nature of any government entity to preserve its own power and its own resources? That is, as the need for a government activity declines, it is unheard of for the participants in that entity to agreed to forward some of their cards and simply agree to a decline in their budgets? Finally it is simply a fact that in recent decades the policies and procedures of many first responders has now given a premium to protecting their own lives. That is, they will not risk their life and limb nearly as much as they have done in the past. This is true in my country of Canada as well. I invite anyone to Google the collapse of the Elliot Lake mall. The first responders there left two people dead because it was too risky for their own man to enter the building. Firefighters are not nearly the heroes they pretend to be. Much of what they engage in is simple surround and drown techniques that keeps them very safe. Rather than simply getting instant feedback from firefighters who frankly don't seem to understand the rules of grammar or spelling, I invite them first to research what I've written. That is, take a deep breath and before you insult this professor further, please try to respond with some level of intelligence. You might start by posting the policies and procedures that in fact do give a priority in your own department to your own life over those of other citizens. Be honest and we might get somewhere in this discussion. You think you are here I was. I don't agree with that for a minute. I think you are overpaid underemployed public servants and I think it is time somebody calls you want it.
ltfd seattle
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 2:15am
John, you are entitled to your opinion. However, if we are going to have an "honest discussion", I would also hope that you either master the auto-correct feature on the device that you are typing on, or don't drink and post- your concluding paragraph is difficult to decipher. Concerning your paragraphs: 1. Your citation of "102 Minutes" disregards the fact that both police and fire departments are hierarchical para-military organizations that follow a designated chain-of-command. Firefighter-level, company-level, and divisional-level assignments and actions at emergency incidents occur at the direction of the incident commander or division supervisor. Strategic and tactical directions from other departments (police, utility, health, etc.) aren't acted upon unless they are relayed via the chain of command, either face-to-face or via radio. Radio communication is almost always a problem in high-rise buildings even without the added problems caused by a terrorist-induced, multiple alarm, mass casualty incident. While you state that the firefighters should have left the building, they were acutely aware that people were trapped above the fire, as evidenced by the bodies raining down outside of the building lobbies as well as the numerous calls for "help me" relayed by the 911 dispatchers. 2. Life is the struggle for free (available) energy in a system; I would submit that both governmental and private industry departments/divisions (as bureaucratic organisms) seek to preserve the status of their units- including budget, resources and personnel. However, your missive regarding "government entities" (fire departments?) never agreeing to a decline in their operating budgets is belied by the fact that every provincial/state, county, and municipal fire department that I am aware of is working with fewer resources than they were 5, 10, 20 years ago- fewer employees, fewer apparatus. I would submit that these government entities continually accept reductions in budget that result in fewer available resources to provide services to the public. 3. Regarding risk-benefit analysis during emergency incidents, one must examine both the regulatory and incident specific parameters that influence fire department actions at emergency incidents. Generally, emergency incident risk-benefit analysis can be summarized in the following way: "Risk a lot to save a lot (life); risk little to save little (property); risk nothing to save that which is already lost (both lives & property)". You are correct that the incident commander at the Elliot Lake Mall collapse did not continue rescue efforts/commit resources to rescue viable, trapped patients. I am uncomfortable with that command-level decision, but from what I have read it was influenced by the lack of an adequately funded and equipped Urban Search and Rescue Team- you have to have both the training & tools to size-up the problem, stabilize & penetrate the debris, and free & extract the patient. At the Elliot Lake mall collapse, they apparently did not. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2012/06/28/elliot_lake_mall_roof_coll...John, you contend that, "Much of what they engage in is simple surround and drown techniques that keeps them very safe". Here are some random examples of the mitigation of various types of emergency incidents. I would contend that the rescue of Salvador Pena was extraordinarily brave, heroic, and professional. Take a deep breath, review these incidents, and try to respond with some level of common sense regarding the safety risks taken by the responders in these various incidents: - House fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E6WIZ36E2s- Vehicle accident with entrapment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mD9uDPQul6o- Cement powder entrapment: http://www.komonews.com/news/local/36059889.html- Trauma at the Tunnel: http://www.jems.com/article/major-incidents/trauma-tunnel-los-angeles-metr- The rescue of Salvador Pena: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/89203586/THE-RESCUE-OF-SALVADOR-PENA 4. "You might start by posting the policies and procedures that in fact do give a priority in your own department to your own life over those of other citizens. Be honest and we might get somewhere in this discussion". Fair enough. Here are the statutory safety requirements in Washington State regarding firefighter activities; Chapter 296-305 Washington Administrative Code - Safety Standards for Fire Fighters http://www.lni.wa.gov/wisha/rules/firefighters/PDFs/296-305.pdf
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 4:55pm
Thank you for this extended response. I apologize for the typos in my original posting. My comments: 1. I urge readers to read the 102 Minutes book. It is a comprehensive and exhausting recount of what exactly when on minute by minute, floor by floor. Scores of firefighters died utterly without need as they were sitting in the Mezzanine level. They were not doing much of anything at that point. The police radios worked; the firefighters' radios did not, due to massive turf wars between the agencies. To their shame, NYFD knew of these radio issues since 1993 and had done next to nothing to improve things. The department's handling of the radio issue over a 8 year period enrages the reader and has enraged many widows. The command/control/paramilitary explanation only works so far with me; they died because of historical incompetence on the part of the department's managers and they died because they were too arrogant to listen to police and others who begged them to get the hell out of the tower. The book also details at length the way in which very very few people were actually aided out of the building through the efforts of ff or police. Your industry may not want to hear the truth, but facts are a very stubborn thing. The professor was right to question whether the FF were in fact as effective and helpful that day as the industry has promoted them; you are not a hero in my book simply because you die and Americans have got to stop reflexively rendering the ordinary heroic. 2. I poorly expressed my second point. It is the nature of any governmental organization to perpetuate itself and to grow itself. As fires have collapsed in number, I don't doubt that FF have intentionally sought out other ways to keep busy and this includes car seats (good lord, why not inspect residential swing sets as well or offer to place pads on bathtub floors?). As we become increasingly aware of asteroids, I have no doubt that dealing with the odd stray meteor will also fall under the rubric of emergency services. Risk management is all about probability times consequence and to think that we need full time people in every county trained in every haz/mat scenario under the sun is simply risible. 3.I have not been terribly impressed with first responders' willingness to risk life and limb in recent years. They are very, very good at establishing perimeters. They have a very mixed record when it comes to penetrating the perimeter, whether such a perimeter is containing the evil of a fire or of a madman. I think of the Montreal massacre in our country and Columbine in yours. I mentioned the Elliott Lake fiasco because it involved two women who were buried under rubble, sounds that people were pretty sure they heard and a manager who called his men off the rescue for safety concerns and because he did not have the equipment he wanted (do you ever have all the equipment you want?). An angry crowd gathered and many men offered and demanded to enter the ruins themselves. The rescue resumed when our provincial "governor" asked them to try harder. This incident fascinates me because I see it as a clash between the increasing tendencies of EMS workers towards careerism and hiding behind protocols, etc, and the public's expectation that they act like the heroes they claim to be ("Of course its dangerous," the townsfolk in effect yelled, "of course you might lose your own life but we think we hear sounds down there and you should get the hell into that rubble and find out"). Finally, while I believe FF to be overpaid in most cases, profoundly underworked (is there another profession with as many moonlighters?) and I believe fire halls ridiculously over staffed, this does not mean that I don't view the job as a necessary one or one that, indeed, can call for heroic actions. I regret the nasty bullying of a professor as evidenced in these pages. I grant that his article lacked subtlety and nuance but for the fire fighting industry to close ranks and engage in an on line massacre of an individual is completely lacking in Christian decency and integrity. John
Mack Seagrave
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 11:06am
John, You base your entire opinion of the F.D.N.Y.'s operations at the 9/11 WTC terrorist attack upon the words of an author who wrote a book about the attacks. Your opinion would possibly be worth something had it been based upon facts rather than the opinion and hearsay gathered by an author who seems to have an agenda (as do you) against firefighters. You state, "Finally, while I believe FF to be overpaid in most cases, profoundly underworked (is there another profession with as many moonlighters?) and I believe fire halls ridiculously over staffed, this does not mean that I don’t view the job as a necessary one or one that, indeed, can call for heroic actions." 1) If firefighters were "overpaid", they wouldn't have to work a second job to make ends meet (in some areas of the U.S., entry level firefighters are paid so poorly that they qualify for food stamps. 2) Your referring to firefighters as being "profoundly underworked" is totally inaccurate. In addition to responding to calls for the various emergency services that fire departments handle, firefighters perform daily apparatus and equipment inspections and maintenance, training and drill sessions, fire prevention inspections and demonstrations to name just a few of the things that keep them more than adequately busy. Most importantly, to do the job well at all times, firefighters must be properly trained and equipped, strategically located and available to respond. That's how taxpayers lives and property are saved. 3) Most (if not all) fire departments actually understaff their units due to budget tightening. This results in it taking longer to at structural fires (making it more likely to have losses of life as well as more extensive property loss). It places firefighters and trapped civilians at greater risk due to the extended time it takes for the under sized crews to force entry to, ladder, ventilate buildings, get the first attack hose line into operation and to perform rapid search and rescue functions. 4) Your less than factual statements lend themselves to someone who knows little or nothing about the operations of the F.D.N.Y. at the 9/11 terrorist attack or for that matter of the fire service in general. It appears that you have a profound hatred for firefighters and have chosen this forum as a place to spread your misinformation.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 8:33pm
By the way, The link to policies and procedures is of no assistance in helping me understand how a fire department processes risk management, which is what I was looking for. Page 39 refers to the fact that each fire department "shall develop a risk management policy". Can you or someone else please post one of these? I would find it of real interest. Thank you
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 6:09am
Most departments have a risk vs reward policy when it comes to putting our own lives on the line. When facing a situation, such as a structure fire or building collapse, where we believe lives can be saved we will indeed wager our lives in a rescue operation. When situational awareness presents us with the knowledge that no lives can possibly be saved by our actions; ie all occupants of a building have been accounted for, a trapped victim has been unresponsive for more than 30 minutes, victims have visible obvious signs of death, then we will be less likely to sacrifice our own lives in a known recovery effort. There is a very big difference in a rescue operation and a recovery operation. This same policy is often applied to fire suppression operations. If a building has unknown/trapped occupants, we will be doing a simultaneous search and interior attack. If the building has adjacent exposures, we will most likely be doing an interior attack to quickly suppress the fire and prevent it from spreading to adjacent buildings. If a fire building known to be structurally compromised (collapsed floors, missing structural components), there are know adjacent exposures, and the building is unoccupied, then yes we will most likely be performing an exterior attack only. In a situation such as this, there is nothing to be gained by laying down our lives. Hopefully this clarifies some of your questions.
Tue, 03/04/2014 - 10:30pm
It becomes extremely clear that the author has never visited a firehouse or been around anyone in public safety. Some quick research would tell him that public safety budgets are being slashed across the United States without thought of the effect on the safety of citizens. Additionally, to state that firefighters do nothing to prevent or stop fires would be a falsehood. I wish the author would spend a week as firefighters install smoke alarms for poverty stricken familie, EMS personnel conduct safety check of the elderly's homes, or police officers work to instill community policing practices. This is the most rediculous statement I've ever heard in my life. To Mr. Polet...take some time to get out from behind your desk and visit some people who truly make a difference in the community. Clearly you would be better served than to sit and write ill informed articles while you hide behind the premise of your "know it all" PhD.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 1:53am
Professor Polet, I hope that you are able to read my analysis of your article. I have given it a lot of thought and agree with you on some points, and have major concerns over where you gathered your facts and on what basis you form your opinions. First, let me give you my background. I am a full time firefighter paramedic in California. Two of my great uncles spent their prime fighting fires in a major city here in California during the 1950's, 60's, and 70's. I never met them, they died of cancer shortly after their retirement when they were in their early 60's. Their four siblings, including my grandfather, lived well into their 80's and not one of them had cancer. My father just retired from a major county fire department. He just finished his career of 32 years being diagnosed with spinal stenosis, high blood pressure, and hearing loss. He just underwent his third shoulder surgery in addition to knee surgery that he had earlier this year. Helping those in need, and being an accountable member of his crew (who depended on him) has defined him as a man. From an early age I observed these traits, along with his commitment, caring for the community, and his sense of integrity. It was at that point that I decided to dedicate my life to a profession where you can make the biggest positive difference in the lives of people who are often experiencing their worst moments. That being said, my uncles, my father, and I all chose our profession. We accept the consequences that go along with it such as time away from the family (my wife is essentially a single mother for the 2-3 days out of the week when I am on 24 hour shifts). I have spent numerous holidays at work, taking care of other families and not my own. I have suffered from episodes of PTSD from many of the unimaginable things I have seen that I can not un-see. If I suffer injury like my predecessors; I will accept it is part of the profession I chose... a small sacrifice on my part to be a part of my chosen profession. I am no hero, I am an employee. I do not ask for admiration from the public. Again, I am just another employee. Who the public decides to place their admiration and trust in is entirely up to them. In my opinion, the vast majority of firefighters are upstanding citizens who are dedicated professionals. We spend our entire careers demonstrating to the public that we are dependable, accountable, professional, and compassionate. Those types of professionals tend to earn admiration regardless of whether their title is "firefighter," "nurse," "teacher," "social worker," "priest," "professor," or "doctor." You are absolutely correct that we do not put out as many fires this day and age. But when fires do occur, it still takes the same amount of manpower to put it out as it did in the 1950's. At my current agency, our staffing levels are now as low as they have been since the 1960's, despite triple the amount of demand, from over twice the amount of population. In my ten years in this field, guess how many car seats I have installed for people? The answer is zero. That is not what we do with our spare time. In addition to responding to fires, I am a licensed medical professional that functions as a paramedic. My engine company responds to approximately 3,000 medical emergencies per year at all hours of the day and night. I am also HAZMAT tech certified. Both of these disciplines have required me to invest countless hours of training. Additionally, they require hundreds of hours of ongoing/continuing education on an annual basis in order to maintain my paramedic license and HAZMAT certification. In the hours of the day at the fire station that we are not training, inspecting our equipment, or responding to emergencies, we also handle fire prevention inspections, fire investigation, code enforcement, conduction of citywide special programs, and public education events. Again, you are absolutely correct that firefighters were not the first ones on site at ground zero, the Boston Marathon, and numerous other tragedies. Obviously the by-standers were. But how many of these bystanders were trained in the disciplines of emergency medicine, fire suppression, and disaster mitigation? And how many of these bystanders had enough equipment and manpower standing by to adequately respond to the situation, treat patients, and address the IDLH? Hearing from you that firefighters were looting in Downtown New York City on 9/11 is the first I have heard of this. I thank you for bringing this to my attention. So I can read more about it, can you please provide me with your source for this information? I am extremely concerned by this because it took me years of testing for fire agencies to finally get hired due to the overwhelming amount of applicants. When I did get hired, I had to pass a background investigation carried out by the local police department, including a polygraph examination. They looked into everything including my credit history, academic records, employment records, they contacted neighbors, friends, ex-girlfriends, old co-works, ex-bosses, etc. I guess my profession as a whole takes it pretty seriously that the public has entrusted us during their most vulnerable moments, and that they and invite us into their homes on a moments notice, without hesitation, when they need our help. Although I find your analysis of the looting to be highly unlikely, or perhaps a misunderstanding by a bystander who did not understand what they were seeing (perhaps salvage and overhaul operations), I am very concerned about this allegation. I am a college graduate from California State University Fullerton. I hold a bachelor's degree, and as a part of earning that degree, I had to do many research papers. In doing research, I often physically visited what I was researching. How many fire crews did you ride along with when you wrote this article? How many fire stations did you step foot in? I also read peer-reviewed scholarly articles as part of my research. Again, where did you get all of this information put forth in your article? On a final note, what are your thoughts on cutbacks of professors at universities nationwide? Seeing that I HAVE analyzed data indicating that larger class sizes really don't have an impact on learning (sociology 371 in college) and that the VAST majority of college professors are public employees (at least here in CA they are), and that students are graduating with huge amounts of college debt while being sent out into a shrinking job market, just maybe I'll write an irresponsible, baseless article on getting rid of some college professors and downgrading that profession as a whole. Maybe that will save a couple bucks and give us no real politician reform, which is what we need in this country to fix our financial problems.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 5:11am
Very Well though out reply Ryan and right on the mark!
Timothy Bullard
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 12:36pm
Well written rebuttal Ryan. Thank you for professionally and categorically replying in a manner you and your Brothers can be proud of. I am proud to be associated with the same Calling as people like yourself. I would like to substitute all of the personal attacks and mockery for this one reply to the Dr's editorial. Stay Safe and God Bless You.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 9:39am
As I posted on my son-in-laws facebook page after he shared this link. "The world is full of idiots, he is just another one of them." Yes my son-in-law is a Public Safety Officer, because of budget cuts, he does both the police and firefighters job where he works. Because of budget cuts his wife had to go back to work to just get them even. Really overpaid and immune from the knife? Our whole family is proud to be related to him, we worry daily that he won't come home, we pray daily for his safety. I hope none of you every need to see him pull up to your home or business in that red truck or cruiser. I will not be back to this page, so comment away on how stupid or ignorant or whatever other words you can come up with to describe me and my opinion.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 2:18pm
Mr. Polet I think many facts have risen in the recent days over your writings. No rebuttle? It has become obvious that you are merely jotting down your uneducated opinion and using it in an attempt to dishonor those that serve you. I am proud that you have the right to express your opinion. I am deeply saddened that your views of police, firefighters, first responders and military personnel is so low. These men and women die for your liberties. They don't theorize on how to do it, reflect in thought and write uninformed opinion columns. The place themselves between bullets, fire, blood and bombs to protect you, your family and your rights. You don't even feel the need to honor them, for minutes of your life, while at a sporting event. I had never heard of you, your college or this website before yesterday. I am glad in a way that your ignorance has shown me where not to send my children to college.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 7:30pm
I think that the lack of response to any of these comments is telling enough of Jeffrey's personality (Duane, that is an observation not a personal attack). I think the comment that hurt so much was this "They are lauded as heroes, their sacrifices valorized, and their sites of failure taken as sacred ground." We train. We train hard, often, on everything and anything that our job may entail. We don't get a playbook when someone calls 911. We show up and mitigate emergencies. Sometimes, even when we do everything correctly, firefighters are seriously injured or killed in the Line of Duty. These are not our failures. These are fathers, wives, sons, daughters, sisters and brothers. They have names and we honor their sacrifice. Not only do we honor them by Never Forgetting their Sacrifice, but by learning from the tragedies that took their lives. These are people who deserve much more than you calling them failures. These are people who risk their lives for others. I do not know what made you decide to write an article with such negativity and irreverence towards Firefighters. I certainly hope that in your time of need, if it you ever need us, that you will have the opportunity to understand exactly who we are and what we do. More importantly, I hope you never need us. We don't wish ill will on anyone. God Bless
Mark Reid
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 8:02pm
Jane, you ignorant slut. .. Its really qyite simple. We can fight a fire with 3 or 30 firefighters but you'll notice a difference and it will be quite dramatic. Where did you get that firefighters don't stop fires, dont prevent fires only contain? Does the Holland FD not visit your children's school in October? Have you never driven bya home in mMichigan and seen it still standing after a fire? Have you even walked into your local fire dept and spoke with the people who protect you about these claims you've made? I gotta think the chief woild politely set you straight on this drivel in your article. Come ride a truck professor. Your rantings might tend to hold water then.
Wed, 03/05/2014 - 9:07pm
Your a flipping idiot, if you had a clue how under funded most departments are and the hours of volentier time that is put in so that communities all over this country can have fire service, I'm sure you would delete this post out of embracement.
Jan Suedmersen
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:01am
I doubt that you are really believing the things you wrote. In my opinion you mixed some (wrong/incomplete) facts with a lot of emotions to create an emotional response - and that is what you got. creating emotions to cover/hide facts is - especially for a journalist - very unprofessionell. This might be the reason why people trust firefighters much more then journalists. Because thats not really new to me, it doesn't tease me much. But: With dishonoring or even criminalizing the efforts of those man and women at the Boston bombing and 9.11 you crossed a line you should not cross without having indepth knowledge and real facts. I'm not a US citizen, but I fully understand and support the view of many readers who expect an apology for those statements. Jan Suedmersen
Marc Jackson
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:15am
Did you actually get paid to write this article? Poor investigation and facts, but then again, upon realizing you’re a professor in Holland, Michigan, and yes I have been there many times, your most likely a liberal idiot that has no clue how the real world works, but pretend you do cause you’re a professor, which in my experience means that you have no clue and couldn't get a real job. I don't deny that politicians use the fire/police card to gain support, when sometimes there is no reason for it, and that some budgets maybe abused. But, First Responders are responsible for so much more them just fighting fires, and yes fire response has been significantly reduced, by first responders with fire prevention and education, and collaboration with the government and corporations. But hey, in your next crisis, you know when you and your family are all smashed up in a car, maybe your neighbor or coworker will have all the special training and tools needed to extricated you and your family from the vehicle, cause firefighters only fight fires and your neighbor or coworker keeps all the necessary equipment in their BMW, unlike us first responders that requires $500,000 vehicle, not to mention the equipment cost and maintenance that needs to last way longer than your next BMW will. Please thank your coworker or neighbor when you breathing out of tube from your neck and you can only maybe move a small portion of your body if you’re lucky, cause your neighbor or coworker had all that special training to avoid snapping your spinal cord, not just skills for fighting that 3.8% response to structure fires, that prevented you from being paralyzed from the neck down. Hey, keep in mind your wife and kids wouldn’t be laying in the burn unit for months and perhaps may die from infection, if your coworker or neighbor didn’t force that door wrong, while not realizing they were in a puddle of fuel which ignited and burned everyone. But of course your coworker or neighbor, after working your cozy teaching/writing job wouldn’t spend hours away from your family, friends, and BMW to train for such a scenario or expect your local government to maintain a paid department to do such emergencies outside of just fighting that 3.8%. Meanwhile, as I plan my day, I have to work my 8-hour nursing job , come home, plan for the next fire prevention event, plan for the next fundraiser, hug my kids, be a father and a husband, and possibly respond to various emergencies in my community from flooded basements, to rescuing a cat or a kid, figure out how I will pay for the next training course – cause my community is on a budget, and maybe die attempting to safe you and your family from whatever crisis you may have that your neighbor or coworker thought they could handle! The Volunteer Firefighter
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:45am
Mr. Polet I ask for a couple of hours of your time to sit and talk with you. Quoted from the article: "These immunities have far more to do with political expediency than either principle or prudence". Are you getting at such things like...... let see.... Consumers Energy just put up $75,000.00 into the Republican political campaign coffers in the State of Michigan! Wonder if that had anything to do with the Governor declaring a state of emergency on propane and natural gas causing prices to skyrocket and padding the corporate pockets! Funny thing about your "first responder" comment. During my 20 year career as a firefighter I remember two incidents in particular. First was a 90 year old female who was rescued unconscious from her basement by "first responder's" who entered the flaming structure to execute a search and was then taken to the hospital. She was able to visit us weeks later to thank us with her family by her side. I don't recall any neighbors rushing into the house to see if she was in there! Second was a 30 year old female trapped under her bedroom window yelling for help as smoke billowed around her. There was about twenty friends and neighbors yelling at us as we arrived on scene pointing out her location. Funny thing was NONE of them were at the window trying to pull her out and there was not a line at the front door of these friends or neighbors waiting to get in to rescue her. Could you imagine that a crew of four of these "first responer's" walked right into the burning smoke filled house without regard for their own safety and health and carried her right out to live to see another day? Crazy isn't it. Would you believe that neither one of these people complained about their taxes being to high. On another note. Everyone pays far more for homeowners insurance that they may never use but I don't see you comment on that. BTW when they do need the insurance, the corporate company fights the customer all the way through the process trying to save every penny they can. I don't seem to remember me having a concern about my family or my budget that supports them as I entered that house to save a life of another human being in need! Maybe the stories listed above is where your following quote came from. "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". I think not sir! The 343 FDNY members that perished on that dreadful day were not "heroes" because they were firefighters! They are heroes because they knowingly without pause entered what is called a Low frequency, High Risk situation to do whatever they could to help those in need knowing there was a VERY HIGH chance of not going home! I don't recall seeing 343 members in line at the front door of the Trade Center asking what the odd's where of them coming out alive and then deciding what to do. In fact, i do recall hearing about one firefighter in particular who had just gotten off duty and was free to go home but jumped on the truck instead to offer assistance. That firefighter must have made a bad decision that day because his family is now trying to move on both mentally and financially without him!! I am more than willing to talk with you to help you understand the insanity of some of your comments and to tackle some of the myths and misunderstandings you seem to have regarding public funding and public safety. Not only did I have a twenty year career as a professional firefighter in a busy community but I was also a Union President who negotiated contracts, was a trustee on the Public Act 345 pension board and now serve as a part time firefighter in my current community. I cant imagine that you write for a magazine that hails from the largest Republican think tank in the State of Michigan who is more concerned with corporate interest and the almighty dollar! Sickening! I ask that you stop and think for a moment about the comment's you made in the article. It stands to reason that you would also believe there is no need for College Professor's as people could learn all on their own by reading the textbook! It may be a safe bet that you should stick to teaching and withdrawal yourself from politics and adding fuel to a fire that is already burning hotter than it ever should be! Good day sir.
Bob Burdick
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 9:42am
Professor Polet attempts to make an arguement without empirical evidence. Most bystanders are reluctant to help in an emergency unless someone else takes action first. In the cases mentioned there were indeed heroic civilians and alot of people who first rushed in were off duty trained responders. One would hope that we would help our fellow man. That's why first aid and CPR training of the public is needed. On a scientific basis his observation is flawed. Of course the first people to help were there-they were fellow workers and bystanders already on scene. This is where it begins. This response needs to be followed up as soon as possible by a trained, organized force able to bring appropriate resources to the scene. Hence, Police, Firefighters, and EMS. Not many bystanders can handle hazardous material emergincies, fire mitigation, or specialized rescue. Are we just going to write people off to save budget money? The Professors opinions are more a product of knee jerk reaction to an uninformed polital view point. Police, Fire, and EMS are easy to target with rhetoric-they are not popular with the Pols because they fight back with logic and facts. Emergency services are always under fire trying to maintain safe levels for a community as well as provide a living for their families. I invite him to do a serious study and he will find that most of the "Myth" is true. There has always been myth as part of the human psyche. Sacrifice, privation, courage, selflessness and heroism are indeed facts in emergency services. Am I too believe the “Myth of the Professor” as a bastion of truth, ethics, knowledge in pursuit of serving the greater good? Not judging by this article.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:14am
Those that can't do Teach. enough said
John Q. Public
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 10:44pm
As long as empty platitudes are fair game, I'll add mine: Those who can't do, teach. And those who can't teach, fight fires.
Brian Giesing
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:38am
Much ado about nothing. The Professor misses the whole point about government services. Government supplies services through taxes. Mismanagement by government leaders have contributed to shortfalls in supplying services. Cutting services such as police and fire fails the public they serve. New Haven CT cut 12 police officers a year ago and the result was they ended up on the FBI's list at number 4 worst cities for crime. Camden NJ cut their police and fire personnel substantially and ended up at number 1 for violent crimes on the FBI list. Civilians helping first on an emergency is true on evacuating themselves at emergancies reference Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans but its the public safety services who are tasked with helping YOU when you can't help yourself. Nice try Professor but you aren't even close to the mark.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 6:07pm
Ya... He sounds quite a bit out of touch there. Maybe you didn't know this Jeffery, but I worked on a pilot program for Rapid Intervention in Ottawa and Kent Counties. We were called to places they wouldn't have had the resources or tools enough to do the job, nor the training should something go wrong. And because of the lack in funding and CORRECT tools and training (a fault of, well... the lack of money that's available to make our fire stations fully-capable via our govt ten times more bled on welfare and food assistance) they wouldn't be able to help as much as you discredit us for, whatever that reason is. Now we could have just disbanded and even called away people who do this work for free like you would have us do; and leave this sort of thing up to the public. And yes, brave men and women can come forward to try and help get a family alive out of a destroyed vehicle on 131.. or even try to get into that house where I myself had been and a 4 year old girl was trapped in a lean-to collapse... But they wouldn't have had the tools and training to ensure these people would be freed from an obvious tragedy. If you would like to keep spitting your thoughtless ideas out there and onto the faces of people like those, telling them you'd rather have had them fight their own battle with bystanders; no one will stop you from trying to suade the rest. When the day comes, when you would be consumed by tragedy yourself or those you love though... I'd still be happy to have done all I could with the tools and training that I've paid for myself over the years just so that I try, just try to make a difference to help you, even if I would fail. You see, Jeffery, in this world where people value commodities and luxurious comforts over their own safety even; such as the guaranteed safety of freedom to sit on a laptop and type dissuasive things about those that would never stop until their body broke in an attempt to save you.. maybe it's not so bad to have people paid, even if it's pretty poorly to try and do what they can to make a difference. I was injured in that building collapse, Jeffery. I have no meniscus left in my knee, I received 2 fractures in my thoracic vertebra, my disks bulged and worn, and there's days where I now have seizures because of the damage I put my body through unknowingly and uncaring at the time to try and make that difference. I wasn't going to stop. And I'd do it all again without thought, even as it's landed me unable to do what I've loved, just so that her family could see her again. I'm sequestered to doing dispatch right now, and the only thing I can think of every day is being back on the truck when we put out the fire pages. I graduated high school with distinction, 4.2 GPA per when honors classes let you climb higher, and I had a scholarship to MTU and UofM. But I chose this path because there ARE people out there that believe in public service, and DO see what a difference that it makes. I'm trying not to tell you to get your head checked, but maybe you can search yourself for a spine and never write something so obviously ignorant in the future. Thanks, Jeffery.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 7:25pm
I conclude the following from these various posts: 1. Many firefighters appear to be functionally illiterate. 2.
Michael Hawley
Mon, 03/17/2014 - 9:50pm
Jeffrey Polet and Duane are probably paid mouthpieces trying to create doubt about some essential services. What is their motivation? As always follow the money. Their benefactors, in the end, wish to privatise anything and everything so that they can get their grubby hands on the cash, making profit for them, not reducing costs but very assuridly reducing the quality and quantity of services. This has been the problem with health insurance. Companies should not earn excess profit from sickness, police or fire departments, or schools for that matter. These are part of "The Commons". Beware to those who think aF . ff rofynapmoc tiforp roFfor profit company has anything other than that on its agend
Anonymous For G...
Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:57pm
The outrageous ANGER of many firemen providing comments on this article reveals more than facts and figures and debates. It reveals an attitude of ENTITLEMENT and a need for personal ego recognition. Whatever happened to volunteer fire fighters? People who cared volunteered their efforts to help their neighbors, and because FIRES ARE RARE (then and now) ... it was never thought necessary to hire an entire army of firefighters, lieutenants, battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs, fire chiefs, training administrators, etc etc. In our community of 50,000 we have nearly 10,000 runs a year ... and LESS THAN 2% ARE For FIRES!! 99% are ambulance runs. We need to run an efficient EMS service, and reduce a bloated expensive workforce that is not needed most of the day, most of the week, most of the year. Quoting 9-11 or the Boston Marathon is ridiculous, and should raise an alert for any citizen / taxpayer who is examining their taxes and the budget for their municipality. If we used the same rationale for building and construction, we would have little real estate to build or develop any property that is within a 100 year floodplain. As an educated and rational society (supposedly), we realize that we have to live our lives with the understanding that there is RISK inherent in everything we do, and we CANNOT AFFORD to PROTECT OURSELVES FROM EVERY RISK. We have to take chances and reasonable risk. 9-11 and the Boston Marathon are examples of extreme circumstances that are unique and rare. We should never build a public safety department around terrorist incidents, just like we have to build in 100 year floodplains and deal with the consequences that are estimated once every century. Reducing excessive numbers of firefighters and layers of administrative bureaucracy in fire departments is smart, reasonable, and actually a compassionate and life-saving course of action. The hundreds of thousands (or millions) of dollars saved in a city's or town's budget can be put to use protecting homeowners from pollution and contamination, improve roads, assist schools, purchase better life-saving equipment and technology, etc etc. Fear of the unknown, and threats of political retaliation (recalls, door to door intimidation campaigns) are the main weapons used by the Fire "mafia." I can't even use my real name due to the very real threats of retaliation and revenge by our local fire department. One firefighter in this article, in the comments section, even wished for a citizens house to "burn to the ground" because he dared question the budget and policies of his local fire department. We need courage to deal with special interests, like Big Oil, big Pharma, Big Insurance, big Banks, big campaign donors ... and to deal with Big Fire Departments.