Salka: Globe Article on Boston FD Incomplete and Incorrect

The recent Boston Globe article seems to examine the cost of firefighters, but most of the other issues they raised seemed relatively minor or way off the mark.

Whether firefighters arrive on a large, lumbering ladder truck or a new shiny ambulance to perform CPR on a citizen, stop a gas leak in a structure or find a lost child in the woods, does it matter? The great thing about fire trucks is we can fight a fire, perform CPR or handle a flooded basement with it, and respond to incident after incident and get the job done.

One last, but vital, point about fire departments. They are graded by insurance organizations and those grades directly affect the insurance premiums paid by both residential and commercial customers. The rating considers factors such as fire station distribution,  equipment carried, staffing, training and other factors. When any of these factors are diminished or reduced it can cost the taxpayers via a significant increase in insurance premiums.  One city in the state of Texas considered reducing the fire department budget by 1.8 million dollars by decreasing staffing and closing and browning out companies. It was determined that those reductions in the fire department, which would save the city 1.8 million dollars, would cost the taxpayers over 20 million dollars in increased insurance premiums. Needless to say the reductions were not adopted.

So let’s do a little review here;

  • Fire departments are responding to more alarms today than ever before
  • Serious fires are down, but fire is still the largest single cause of property loss in the U.S.
  • Fire departments respond to fires and many other types of emergencies and incidents
  • Fire kills between 2,500 and 3,000 people every year
  • A structure fire occurs every 66 seconds in America
  • The better equipped and staffed and trained a department is, the lower the insurance premiums are for that community.

Seems to me the Boston Globe should have been able to uncover these basic facts about fire departments, but it was my pleasure assisting them in their balanced and unbiased reporting.