Fire Chiefs Address Our Biggest Challenges

I recently conducted a survey involving fire chiefs from 10 metropolitan fire departments in the United States. The departments selected for the survey were literally from East Coast to West Coast, from north to south. The chiefs were each asked to...


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• Replacing the infrastructure needs of fire departments is of considerable concern. Since the economic downturn began, many fire departments have not been able to replace worn apparatus, equipment, facilities and communications systems. In order to save money, decisions were made to retain these long after they should have been replaced. This payment is coming due and creating an acceptable plan to recover and go forward could be challenging to fund and implement.

• Fire deaths in many large cities have declined considerably over the years and may continue to do so. A significant challenge for fire departments is communicating and selling the need for an adequate fire suppression force when data indicates that the frequency of their use is declining. We know that no matter what the frequency, an adequate fire suppression response is critical to the safety of the public and firefighters. Addressing this issue may be especially difficult for fire departments that have not embraced and integrated EMS, special operations, fire prevention and all-risk public education as regular duties of their firefighters.

It is obvious that the responses from these 10 chiefs could be of guidance to major fire service membership organizations when deciding what types of support and information to provide to their members during the next year (or more). I appreciate the input of these fire chiefs. It is helpful and seems to make some sense to me – and I hope to you as well.

 

Dennis Compton presents “Instilling Accountability in Fire Officers” at Firehouse Expo 2013, July 23-27 in Baltimore, MD.

 

DENNIS COMPTON, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a speaker and the author of Progressive Leadership Principles, Concepts and Tools, the When in Doubt, Lead! books, the book Mental Aspects of Performance for Firefighters and Fire Officers, and many articles, chapters and other publications. He was the fire chief in Mesa, AZ, for five years and assistant fire chief in Phoenix, where he served for 27 years. Compton is past chairman of the Executive Board of the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) and past chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Advisory Committee. He is currently chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board of Directors.