Jack and I saw people whose fortunes have changed seeking to carve up the FIRE Act money to suit their needs. I am not happy with several of the moves which are being made at the national level, but am really powerless to do much other than write about them. Let me also make you aware of the fact that there are also those people who have said the program should not have been created in the first place. Apparently these folks do not get around much. Let me assure you that I have taken a certain amount of flack for my support and promotion of the FIRE Act program.
However, my friend Jack Peltier and I saw the results of this outstanding program at the grassroots level. We saw people who were sharing turnout gear and driving vehicles that should have been in the junkyard a long time ago. We saw others who did not have a sufficient number of self-contained breathing apparatus units to mount any sort of an interior fire attack. We saw units who were able to provide a better level of training thanks to the programs and devices which were funded by the FIRE Act.
Sad to say, but our fire service is taken for granted by the vast majority of the citizens in our nation. Oh, people will praise the daylights out of us on the surveys which ask for people's opinions of their fire department. Unfortunately, when we ask them to fund our operations, or volunteer to join with us in the delivery of our critical infrastructure protective service, we get an overwhelmingly cold shoulder. Worse yet, when they need us, they are all over us like a cheap suit if we fail to be on location in 45 seconds.
The problem here is that when I write for Firehouse.com, I am in fact engaging in that ancient and honorable art known in religious circles as "preaching to the choir." Except that many within the choir are not reading off the same sheet of music that you and I are using. I promised that I will keep writing to direct us all to a common ground for this battle.
There you have it. I believe in the value of the FIRE Act and it is my intention to travel out to the middle of great nation to meet with fire departments who have achieved success through the receipt of a FIRE Act grant or grants. If you would like to meet, please with our traveling circus, please let me know. I am working on planning this trip a lot sooner than the last one. We threw that one together in about 45 days. This time around, I want to plan things a little bit better.
If you want me to visit with you, just contact me. We are also looking for support from you and your organizations whenever possible. I can assure you that any help which you can provide will be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
HARRY R. CARTER, Ph.D., CFO, MIFireE, a Firehouse.com Contributing Editor, is a municipal fire protection consultant based in Adelphia, NJ. Dr. Carter retired from the Newark, NJ, Fire Department and is a past chief and active life member of the Adelphia Fire Company. He recently published Leadership: A View from the Trenches and Living My Dream: Dr. Harry Carter's 2006 FIRE Act Road Trip, which was also the subject of a Firehouse.com blog To read Harry's complete biography and view his archived articles, click here. You can reach Harry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.