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Once the storm commenced, the inspectors took their now usual role of manning the IMT and running downed power lines, flooded basements and medic standbys. In a 24-hour period, a dozen inspectors responded to more than 100 calls. That is over 100 times an apparatus would have left station with four members and would have been unavailable for service for up to an hour each time.
Extreme weather is occurring with more frequency and fire department budgets are getting smaller, so fire chiefs must be flexible in defining the roles within the fire department. Unless prohibited by contractual labor agreements, fire chiefs around the country should blur (and many are blurring) the lines between fire suppression and staff functions.
In times of need, think of the sworn personnel in the fire marshal’s office, fire academy and logistics sections as the reserve force of your department. n