Straight from the VCOS pulpit
By Bill Carey
Originally published 13 November 2011.
At the IAFC’s Volunteer Chief Officer Symposium in Florida last week, an interesting statement was made about the future of our nation’s fire service. USFA Prevention and Leadership Development Branch Chief Ken Farmer was speaking in Clearwater about how the fire service must adapt to change, Much of what was written about Farmer’s beliefs are correct, that we should begin to look earnestly at the changing populations we serve and our educational process. Unfortunately two statements about firefighting are disconcerting to me and should be to you.
“Stop fighting interior fires,” he said. “Don’t go into those fires anymore. It’s not worth it. They build disposable houses these days. Our lives are not disposable.”
By fighting fires from the outside, he believes firefighters will be safer and more line of duty deaths will be prevented.
“Every day I drive by the flag. If you’ve ever been to the National Fire Academy and never seen the flags at half staff, you haven’t been there for more than 24 hours.”
Understanding statements in the context given is key. “Those fires”? Which fires are “those fires”? Vacants? Lightweight truss? Non-sprinklered? Or are “those fires” interior fires?
As I have always written, and continue to do so, to ask you to challenge and question what may not make sense, are you expected to believe, by the speaker’s statements, that the large reason why the flags fly at half mast for nearly every day at Emmitsburg is because firefighters are dying inside burning buildings?
The numbers say something very different. Don’t just take my word for it. Look at the USFA’s database.
Along with a decline in fire deaths, fire-related injuries also are down. A report released by the NFPA showed that such injuries last year were down to the lowest level in 30 years and decreased by 8 percent from 2009.
“How cool is that? That’s a pretty amazing statistic,” he said. “It also shows demand is down.”
So, if the number of reported injuries is down then it means that the demand for our services is down? I’m not a math expert, but I’m quite sure there is little correlation between the public’s need for us to respond to their fires and other emergencies and our being injured while on duty.
Maybe Andy was right when he said “don’t worry about that nozzle kid, cause we don’t do fires anymore.”
“USFA Official: Fire Service Must Adapt to Change” Peluso, Firehouse.com November 2011
Photo courtesy Fire Engineering.