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The only way these and other problems will ever be overcome is if the fire-rescue service seizes this unique opportunity to make its voice heard and have an impact on the political process. It has to start at the local level, which is the best place for firefighters to use their political muscle because it is local officials who make the decisions that most directly affect a fire department. It’s great to be involved in a campaign for the White House or State House or Congress, but City Hall and the County Building have real power over the fire-rescue service.
Making waves can be a risky business, but it’s worth the effort if you can influence the political process. It also can be infuriating and frustrating and those who play the political game would do well to remember the words of Mr. Dooley, a legendary Chicago saloon keeper, who wisely observed: “That ain’t bean bag they’re playing out there.”
Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.