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Firefighters Outdated

Original post made by Food For Thought on May 2, 2010

From this week's PA Weekly Letters to the Editor.
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The position of firefighter is really somewhat archaistic.

How many fires do they actually fight these days? Cities facing budgeting realities need to reinvent these positions as public-safety positions that include fire fighting, emergency medical aide, emergency preparedness and other roles deemed necessary for the good of the community.

These new employees, replacing the old firefighters, should come to work, just like the police and other city employees, do their assigned jobs and go home when their shift is finished. It is no longer reasonable to pay firefighters to sleep, grocery shop, prepare meals and hang around the firehouse.

We now live in a 24/7 world and there is no reason that the newly invented "public-safety job" cannot find essential tasks to be preformed at all hours of the day and night.

When they are on the job they should be working. The fire engines do not have to sit in the firehouse if nothing is going on. Just like going to the store, essential personnel can be assigned to tasks as a group and go out to the worksite with a fire truck. They can jump on the truck there as quickly as they can from the fire station.

There are probably hundreds of ways that "public safety" personnel can be deployed.

With looming budget cuts to school police teams, they can take over the role of ensuring safety around school zones. They can watch train tracks. They can train neighborhood leaders in emergency preparedness. At night they can be extra eyes on the street. They can do building inspections. They can help out on short-term projects — building, moving, cleaning.

The possibilities are endless once we dump the old system and require these city employees to work full time.

Comments (7)

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 2, 2010 at 9:30 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Letter states:"We now live in a 24/7 world and there is no reason that the newly invented "public-safety job" cannot find essential tasks to be preformed at all hours of the day and night."

I think that you do not understand the role that firefighters play as our first responders. They are on duty, on call for us 24/7 in the event of a fire or a medical emergency or any other urgent situation.
Since we want and need them to be available around the clock we require them to be there 24/7. That is our requirement, not their choice.

When they are on duty for 24 or 48 hours at a time it is perfectly appropriate that they eat, sleep and do other things while waiting for our call for help.

Having this service provide by individuals working 8 hour shifts would be much more expensive.

We are privileged to have the dedicated and well trained firefighters who serve us 24/7.

Posted by POGO, a resident of Woodside: other
on May 3, 2010 at 9:06 am

I'm guessing that some people think fire fighters are all asleep in firehouse waiting for the phone to ring. From what I've seen, they are usually maintaining their equipment (which always appears to be in fantastic shape!) and driving around neighborhoods checking hydrants, performing safety inspections and identifying hazards.

Maybe fire fighters can be even better utilized while waiting for our call, but waiting and responding quickly is the nature of their job.

Posted by Food For Thought, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 3, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Peter, answer the core question put forth in the letter:

How many fires do they actually fight these days?

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 3, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Food for Thought states:"Peter, answer the core question put forth in the letter:

How many fires do they actually fight these days?"

First, just because someone asks a question that does not make that question the 'core question'.

The fact is that we call them firefighters but well over 60% of their calls are emergency medical calls. And when they respond to fires they do so within minutes and with great skill and expertise - would you prefer otherwise?

Posted by Interested, a resident of another community
on May 4, 2010 at 10:07 am

"require these city employees to work full time"

I have seen some truly ignorant opinions here, but this wins hands down.

Posted by Far Too Much, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 4, 2010 at 4:52 pm

Far too much equipment, far too many personnel and far too many tax dollars going to the fire district. I understand they are heroes, I understand they fight fires, however for every fire employee that leaves the district, don't we receive over 100+ resumes? This is a highly sought after position, we can stand to take a cut at these salaries, pensions and benefits. Furthermore, it's nice that they are responding to "emergency medical calls", but they're responding to them in fire trucks, that has GOT to be very expensive for the city. Whatever happened to ambulances, or some other cheaper mode of transportation? Having several fire personnel with equipment, sometimes more than one, respond to "someone who fainted" is REALLY overkill.(bad choice of words, but it is) This has to be looked into, these individuals are not untouchable, they are living off the public trough!

Posted by Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on May 4, 2010 at 5:06 pm

Far Too Much asks:"Whatever happened to ambulances?"

The State of Calofornia, in its infinite wisdom, prohibits our firefighters from using ambulances - only the County can use ambulances and they have contracted out that very important responsibility to a private company that does a horrible job.

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