The Fire Service: Doing What They Can

 

RECENTLY, WE DISCUSSED THAT THE AMERICAN FIRE SERVICE IS UNDER AT-tack from every direction in these tough financial times. The mayor of New York City continues to call for the permanent closure of 20 fire companies. In Los Angeles, after at least 20 companies a day were browned out, a new deployment plan will permanently close 11 engines, seven light forces (each consisting of a one-person engine and a fully manned 100-foot aerial ladder), four basic life support (BLS) ambulances, one deputy chief and two battalions as well as reducing the on-duty staffing. In San Jose, the firefighters union has already signed deals with the city to cut members' total compensation by 10% and yet the city still plans to lay off 64 personnel. Cleveland, Houston and Memphis have announced cuts. The volunteer service isn't faring much better. Many volunteer departments report decreased manpower, applications and responders.

Safety is always the issue. Instead of doing more with less, it seems like the fire service is doing what they can with what they have to spend. Everything costs more today. For the latest career fire service statistics, see the first installment of our annual exclusive National Run Survey, which can be found on page 54.

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I VISITED THE FAMILY TRIBUTE CENTER across from the World Trade Center site recently during an interview. It is directly adjacent to the firehouse of FDNY Engine 10 and Ladder 10. Apparently, 1,500 to 1,800 people a day visit the center. Pictures, videos, artifacts, audio tapes and family remembrances' are only a small part of the collection located near Ground Zero.

We are proud to announce a new book being published by Firehouse® to honor the memory of the 10th anniversary of 9/11. A book titled In Their Own Words will be available at Firehouse Expo 2011 in Baltimore, by phone or online. This book details numerous FDNY firefighters as they recall stories as they operated at various parts around the 16-acre site. Many of these stories have not been heard before. Together with photos, diagrams and facts, this book captures the emotions and dangers of that day. From those first due to others who operated in the towers before they collapsed, the stories tell it the way it was for those lucky to survive the terrorist attack. See page 24 for information on a pre-publication special offer.

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Contributing Editor Dennis L. Rubin begins a series of columns HE calls "The Dozen That Make a Difference: Fire Chief Finishing School" on page 108 about the top 12 traits he believes are necessary to be successful as a fire chief. In conjunction with this series and in cooperation with Columbia Southern University, Firehouse® is a partner in presenting the Chief Alan Brunacini Leadership Retreat as part of Firehouse Expo 2011. If you are interested in becoming a fire chief or taking on more responsibility within an organization, you will want to a seat in this presentation. Look for registration directions in this issue or contact Columbia Southern University at billy.hayes@columbiasouthern.edu for more information.

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A five-alarm fire in a hardware store in the Astoria SECTION OF Queens, NY, on June 17, 2001, killed three firefighters and injured numerous others. The fact that the fire occurred on Father's Day was traumatic not only to the families, firefighters and fire department, but to the entire city. Some people say that the Father's Day fire, as terrible as it was at the time, has been forgotten, but we prefer to say it has just been overshadowed by 9/11. As the 10th anniversary approaches, we recall what happened that day; see page 62.

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