Firefighters — From Heroes to Zeros

Do you remember the days and months after 9/11? I do. Grateful people showed up at fire stations across the United States with cakes, cookies, meals and other expressions of appreciation for firefighters. The firefighters of New York City not only...


Do you remember the days and months after 9/11? I do. Grateful people showed up at fire stations across the United States with cakes, cookies, meals and other expressions of appreciation for firefighters. The firefighters of New York City not only showed the United States, but the rest of the...


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Another major issue centers on politicians who are unhappy that many firefighters receive a pension. It seems to irritate them for some reason that after people commit 20, 25 or 30 years to an organization, they receive a pension. During tough economic times, politicians are looking for dollars to operate their governments. It is amazing that politicians now want to change the rules after the whistle has already blown to start the game. The mayor of St. Louis continues to try to get his hands on the firefighter and police pension fund, calling the funding of the pension the "fifth man on the fire truck." Other politicians around the United States continue to try and change pension systems from "defined benefit" to a "defined contribution" programs.

Many firefighters sacrifice and spend many hours away from their families. Many firefighters have to work second and third jobs just to make ends meet. Other firefighters volunteer for their communities so that others can sleep at night. Firefighters touch people's lives every day, whether it is saving someone's home from a wildfire, extricating someone from a wrecked vehicle or pushing the right medication to save someone from a heart attack.

In my 33-year fire service career, I have never heard firefighters refer to themselves as heroes. But they do ask for a little appreciation for the job they do. To the politician and all the others, let's stop beating up on firefighters and start appreciating what they do for the community.

GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 33 years of fire-rescue experience. Ludwig is chair of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), was appointed to the National EMS Advisory Council by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and is a member of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) EMS Standing Committee. Ludwig has a master's degree in business and management and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at fire and EMS conferences nationally and internationally and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.