Editorial: A Time To Honor And Reflect

While in the Midwest recently, we distributed advance copies of the March 2000 issue of Firehouse®, containing a recap of the Worcester, MA, fatal fire, recovery and memorial service. We have already received some very nice comments about our special coverage. One reader who was moved by the coverage sent a small note after he was reminded of a dedication taken from a fire service textbook: “Dedicated to the fire chief of every town, who assumes such awesome responsibility when the alarm sounds.”

Recent newsmaking events from around the country that can be found on page 8 include a report on two firefighters who were killed in Houston after battling a fire in a fast-food restaurant. One of the firefighters was the first female to die in the line of duty in Houston.

We go from one tragedy to another. As Mesa, AZ, Fire Chief Dennis Compton states, “We are in the ‘worst day of their lives’ business.” This usually relates to the civilians we protect. I was talking to a fellow firefighter about how we never know what will happen on the fireground. Just a few hours later, two firefighters and a deputy sheriff were shot and killed as they arrived at a house fire in Memphis, TN.

In this issue we present the recipients of Firehouse® Magazine Heroism and Community Service Awards. We congratulate all the nominees for doing a job well done. We also would like to thank our sponsors: V.H. Blackinton & Co., The Charles Evans Foundation, Code 3 Collectibles, The Alfred E. Ronaldson Fund, and The Foundation for the Health and Safety of American Firefighters. We would also like to thank this year’s judges: Battalion Chief Robert Cobb of the Jersey City, NJ, Fire Department; Robert Hoff, director of training for the Chicago Fire Department (and the Grand Prize recipient in the 1998 heroism program); and Battalion Chief Michael L. Smith of District of Columbia Fire and Rescue.

A joint congressional hearing will take place on April 12 to hear testimony on two pieces of fire service legislation – H.R. 1168, the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act, and H.R. 3155, the Firefighter’s Local-Federal Assistance for Management of Emergencies (FLAME) Act. The FIRE Act would authorize $5 billion in competitive grants to fire departments over five years. The FLAME Act calls for distributing federal assistance to volunteer fire departments. We’ll have more to report on these measures in upcoming issues.

Congratulations to our colleagues at Firehouse.com for winning the coveted Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Web Site. Tens of thousands of professionals in the fire and emergency services industry visit Firehouse.com each month to take advantage of its varied features, including free e-mail, community forums and live chats, line-of-duty death reports, and daily news and information covering the emergency services. The Neal Board of Judges cited Firehouse.com’s clear architecture and admired its many external links as well as its parallel stories and extensive coverage of the subject. The site has also become a source of expert information for news agencies, including CNN and the Associated Press.

Also making news on the Internet is the forthcoming launch of Firehouse.com Auctions. New and used products, manufacturer overstocks, memorabilia, previously owned fire service equipment, charity items as well as additional articles of choice from emergency service professionals around the country will be available.