Trying to Do More With Less?

With the state of the fire service in flux due to the continuing fiscal crisis, in this issue we take a three-pronged look at the lack of money, budget cuts, givebacks and zero raises for fire departments and what it means to the fire service and the services we provide to the public. In our latest column, Telling It Like It Is, we discuss budget cuts. For the most part, every time we are asked to cut the fire department budget, we try to do more with less. When confronted with the same reductions, the police say they can't maintain the same level of service. When are we going to learn? Let us know your thoughts.

Speaking of budget cuts, we asked Ed Ballam, the newest member of the Firehouse® editorial team, to examine the effects that budget cuts, layoffs, brownouts and fire department mergers are taking on paid departments. Fire departments across the country are balancing the need for protecting the public and ensuring the safety of firefighters; it makes an interesting read. Finally, in his Fire Politics column, Dennis Compton discusses how politicians think that severe budget cuts will not negatively impact public safety. The three key elements of the fire service's core mission are prevention, public education and emergency response. These three services serve equally important roles. Better-educated decision-makers and civilians can make more informed decisions on possible fire service reductions.

In this month's Guest Commentary, Michael P. Dallessandro discusses the number 932. In an editorial last May, I listed the number of line-of-duty deaths tabulated by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) between 1977 and 2007. There were 3,826 firefighters killed in the line of duty, including 932 who died responding to or returning from alarms. Mr. Dallessandro discusses the significance of this quite disturbing number. Every apparatus driver needs to read this article and make sure we arrive alive; otherwise, we are no good to the people who just called us for help.

Also in this issue, Curt Varone takes a look at the concerns of fire departments that run junior firefighter programs. In many communities, these young members are the firefighters of tomorrow. Curt reviews many of the legal state and federal laws governing junior firefighters in his Fire Law column, "How Old Is Old Enough?" In Wildland Firefighting, JP Harris discusses the recent changes in wildland tactics adopted by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. The changes will appear in the Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG) that will be released early this year. A must read for all those involved in wildland firefighting and the wildland urban interface. Mark Emery offers an interesting perspective on truss construction and its effects on firefighting operations in his article, "Truss Truce: Time for the Fire Service to Make Peace With an Old Nemesis." He takes a different look at the trusses that have been around for longer than the fire service has existed in North America.

Monitoring the news wires lately, there have been numerous changes in the chiefs' ranks from coast to coast. Last year's keynote speaker at Firehouse Expo, former FDNY Chief of Department Salvatore Cassano, has been appointed as New York City's fire commissioner. Ed Kilduff, former Brooklyn borough commander, was promoted to FDNY chief of department. Several other Firehouse® contributors, speakers and instructors also have made the news lately. Syracuse, NY, District Chief Mark McLees was appointed as fire chief in Syracuse. Deputy Chief Rick Kolomay was promoted to fire chief in Carol Stream, IL — last year, Firehouse® held hands-on training at that department's state-of-the-art facility in conjunction with the Chicago Fire Department Conference. Finally, Buffalo, NY, Fire Commissioner Mike Lombardo stepped down to the rank of battalion chief. Good luck to all!

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