As Firehouse Sees It: Good Times and Bad Times

T he November issue of Firehouse® is our Apparatus Issue, focusing on the most important piece of equipment in the firefighting arsenal. Whether the incident is a fire, a medical emergency or a specialized rescue, we need to reach the scene as quick and as safely as possible. Our apparatus must be multi-purpose and efficient, adhere to numerous standards, and transport personnel inside complete with seatbelts, hearing protection and the latest in communications and GPS technology.

This issue features our annual Apparatus Showcase of the newest, most technologically advanced vehicles now in service. In The Apparatus Architect, Tom Shand and Mike Wilbur offer a tutorial on matching apparatus specifications to the needs of the response area. Ed Ballam conducts a roundtable of apparatus manufacturers examining trends in the market, this time focusing on designing and purchasing multi-purpose vehicles capable of responding to a variety of emergencies.

Our coverage is intended to help the fire service make sound decisions when designing the safest, most effective and most economical apparatus. We sort through all the available information to give the fire service the knowledge it needs to make sound purchasing decisions as governing bodies scrutinize budgets more closely than ever.


R ecently, I attended the 50th anniversary of the FDNY Emerald Society Pipes and Drums Band. The celebration was held at Citi Field in Queens, where the New York Mets usually play baseball. A large American flag was draped from two aerials at the entrance to the stadium (see page 22). A reception was held on the warning track all the way around the stadium. The band entered the field through the centerfield wall to a spot just short of second base, playing numerous songs. Many of the band’s original members were in attendance. In the past 50 years, the band has played all over the world, in stadiums and in parades and on TV. A startling fact was that the entire band, many members or a few members played at every 9/11 funeral or memorial service. Some days, there were 15 funerals spread around the metropolitan area.

The top of the 102-story Empire State Building tower is lit in special colors for numerous occasions during the year. A few years ago, there was a controversy when the tower was not going to be lit in honor of Mother Teresa. On Sept. 15, 2012, however, the tower was lit up green and white for the band’s 50th anniversary. It was quite a celebration in honor of an organization whose members lead with pride and prestige at numerous events during each year.


A fter the 2004 wildland fires in San Diego, CA, a ceremony to thank all the firefighters and their families who fought the fires was held at Qualcomm Stadium, where the Chargers play football. As I watched, the firefighters marched in and were honored. It was nice to see that so many people care about those who put their lives on the line.

We wish this type of giving thanks would be carried all year long, not just after a major tragedy. With the economic crisis getting people so focused on taxes, spending, pensions and a whole lot more, we have to get the word out about what we do. The fire and EMS services are under attack in all 50 states, 365 days a year. In the past two years, the ISO reports, the fire service has lost 18% of what we once had. Elected officials and the public are asking questions about everything we do, why we do it and why it costs so much. For us, life is a lot easier when times are good. n