30 Years of Fire Politics: Still More Work Needed To Attract Support for Fire Service

It was 30 years ago that my friend Dennis Smith asked me to write a column on “fire politics†for a new magazine he was starting. I was skeptical on two counts: who would read a magazine called Firehouse and, second, what was there to write...


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I thought the political landscape would change for the fire-rescue service after the terrorist attack of 9/11, when the entire world got a close-up view of firefighters in action. Their heroism and sacrifice brought new respect and admiration from the public, but that has not translated into political support on the issues of concern to America’s firefighters. In the aftermath of 9/11, numerous investigations pointed out that the nation’s emergency response system had some serious flaws. But efforts to correct the problems moved at a frustrating, slow pace until Hurricane Katrina exposed the failures of federal, state and local governments. These days, every problem seems to have a political spin and it’s hard to believe I once worried that there wouldn’t be enough to write about.

So thanks to my friend Dennis Smith for pushing me into the rough seas of fire politics and thanks to Harvey Eisner, Jeff Barrington and all the editors and publishers of Firehouse® who have given me the opportunity to keep this column going for 30 years. Finally, I have to thank all of you, the readers, who have kept me informed and never hesitated to share your opinions, whether we agreed or disagreed.


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.