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Thread: Red Cross beware

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    Default Red Cross beware

    Nationally the American Red Cross has become highly active in smoke detector installations and have garnished a great deal of media attention. They are quickly trying to establish themselves as the organization to go to for fire prevention information.

    In my recent article "A Call for Fire Departments to Remain Relevant" I have warned of this very thing and we need to take heed. Why has the ARC taken this on? Because they need to justify their existence and see a need and public value that we have been ignoring for decades. Next they will be going into schools and doing fire prevention programs for the public.

    Who cares? We all need to. They would not do this if the public doesn't place a need and value in it. We should not be allowing any other entity to step in and make themselves the expert in anything fire protection. Value and funding for one ties into the other.

    For those of you who are only concerned with suppression and you still feel that this is the only value for the fire service and incorrectly believe that is enough - If you think in ten years there won't be mini-pumpers with a red cross on the side in your community "just to put out small brush and trash fires, and basic 1st responder calls" then you need to think again.

    We are losing the public value fight.

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    Not disagreeing with your sentiment and thoughts...but ARC is not anywhere near active in my area in such endeavors.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Anything that gets detectors into homes has to be looked at as a positive. I don't much care where they come from. No need to get political or territorial on this issue. Lives are at stake.

    From what I see on this forum (and others), departments are facing serious challenges with staffing, equipment, training, response, etc. How can they take on the added responsibility of fire prevention activities? When will the volunteers go to their paying jobs? Spend time with their families? You can't force them to do this stuff any more than you can force them to train every week.

    I agree that this should be a function of the fire service but in many communities there is no real fire service. But I still don't believe we'll see Red Cross mini-pumpers any time soon. Although maybe some areas could use the help.

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    [QUOTE=captnjak;1432817]Anything that gets detectors into homes has to be looked at as a positive. I don't much care where they come from. No need to get political or territorial on this issue. Lives are at stake.

    On the surface I agree with you 110%. But just beneath it is so much more and you just described the cycle I am talking about.

    Why are fire department's losing staffing and have insufficient funds? Because for years we have sat behind the bay doors in a response/suppression mode. Society has changed dramatically. We are in a society that would rather record a public assault than call 911. We are in a society that constantly asks "what are you doing for me today?" Due to the recession government managers have successfully challenged fire departments in ways they would never be allowed to do a decade ago like "Why are we paying firefighters to sleep?" People today are more concerned with paying their bills than about a fire they don't think will ever happen to them, and as government managers point at fire department and question apparatus size, manpower needs, and why we are paid to sleep, when all we do is put out a few fires.

    We need to be where the public values if we want to complete for staffing and funds. Obviously the smoke detector program is a value that produces results or the ARC would not be taking this full steam and all over the media with it. They are doing this while firefighters sit inside fire stations losing funding and manpower waiting for a fire - "what did you do for me today?" Do you see the relationship here? It only takes one person to install a smoke detector and if that is all that's on the engine that's what we need to be doing, thus all over national media showing what a vital and valued service we are providing, and this will be remembered when budget comes around and we have answered the "what have you done for me today" question.

    This is a slippery slope. Next the ARC (or another entity) will be providing other services we should be just short of interior fire suppression and our ability to answer that question gets smaller and smaller.

    I appreciate the ARC getting involved and on the surface this is a great thing. My warning is to the fire service that if we continue to allow this to happen we will continue to come up short when funding is provided. Funds will go to entities providing the perceived public need.

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    I agree with the main point you are making as far as departments staying in the game to remain vital. The problem is in something you mentioned yourself. People don't think they will have a fire in their home. Combine this with attempts to spend less by government and the result is reductions to the fire service.

    How do you propose we fight this? Buy smoke detectors with our own money and distribute them?

    For the record, I am also unaware of this effort by Red Cross.

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    http://www.redcross.org/prepare/loca...ent-home-fires

    I know they are active around here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    How do you propose we fight this? Buy smoke detectors with our own money and distribute them?
    Capt the list is too extensive to write here but there is plenty of funds out there for smoke detectors. LOWES and other department stores have grants specifically to give to the communities for these types of things, as does Exchange Clubs and other social clubs have money to give back to the public. It really is up to your imagination where the money comes from but it's there - you just have to seek it out and ask.

    My EMails is dbyrne.burtonfd@gmail.com. Happy to help you in anyway.

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    Thanks for the offer. NYC already has a detector distribution program. Actually, NYC has a distribution program for just about everything.

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    The big issue is not so much FDs not doing programs like detector give aways/installs -- its most of us put our heads down , do our job and go about our business. Places like the red cross milk things for all the good publicity they can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    The big issue is not so much FDs not doing programs like detector give aways/installs -- its most of us put our heads down , do our job and go about our business. Places like the red cross milk things for all the good publicity they can.
    That's where policy makers need to step in. These things have to be initiated at the very highest levels. But once again, it is a lot to realistically expect in the volunteer setting.

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    Red Cross mini-pumpers? No.
    I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.
    ― Hunter S. Thompson

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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    Red Cross mini-pumpers? No.
    never say never -- just say a red cross national commercial -'Red Cross responds to a residential fire every --(I didn't pay attention) minutes. You have the funding (or clout) to "buy" a national commercial to praise your hard work, you never know.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slackjawedyokel View Post
    The big issue is not so much FDs not doing programs like detector give aways/installs -- its most of us put our heads down , do our job and go about our business. Places like the red cross milk things for all the good publicity they can.
    Again you hit the nail on the head. We have been the modest heroes for far to long. We need to stop the "Aw shucks ma'am just doin my job." and start articulating what we do and up against. We have been out own worst enemies and it's coming back to bite us. It goes against everything we are to step into the spotlight. But it's time. For our own survival.
    fire5555 and slackjawedyokel like this.

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    They have been all over the media on fires and what they do. So I would say "yes." If not the Red Cross then "Joe's Firefighting, Inc"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daniel Byrne View Post
    They have been all over the media on fires and what they do. So I would say "yes." If not the Red Cross then "Joe's Firefighting, Inc"
    Being at a fire doesn't mean you want to be a fire department any more than being at the grocery store means you want to be a cantaloupe.

    The overall attitude of municipalities and states with regard to duplication of services is such that nothing like this would ever take off. And how would the Red Cross--as well-heeled as they are--ever get the equipment and staffing to satisfy NFPA requirements? Who would be willing to donate money to the Red Cross to provide fire protection that overlaps the protection they are paying for via local taxes?

    Let's prepare for realistic threats instead of falling victim to the same problem of most political debate in America these days, the contest to see who can say the most alarmist thing first.
    I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.
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    Quote Originally Posted by captnjak View Post
    That's where policy makers need to step in. These things have to be initiated at the very highest levels. But once again, it is a lot to realistically expect in the volunteer setting.
    Yes sir. I have no answers for the volunteers. They are struggling just to respond and my hats off to them. But they should be the cautionary tail. Volunteers, who at one time were the elite of society and was an honor to be a volunteer firefighter, have fallen to the side buy an increasingly disinterested society. Even our TRUE citizens heroes who risk it all for nothing are being pushed to the side today.

    Even more reason for the fire service, career/volunteer/combination, to stand together and let the public know what we do and deliver the services that our public wants.

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    You are over simplifying it. I would suggest doing some research because what I described is happening today. No not suppression services yet, but all the other "less popular" duties the fire service used to perform are being privatized out.

    A private entity does not have to comply with NFPA standards. They are private and provide a service and take inherent risks in doing so. Many fire departments in our country to no follow NFPA because they do not have to. NFPA is a standard not a code or regulation. A private entity would not have to comply.

    It's about value. If we continue to sit behind closed bay doors responding to emergencies only and that's our only value then that's all we will get support for. We are in a throw away society. We build to throw away. When it comes to funding what do you think people will fund if we are suppression only?

    These are copied right from the latest news. Where is the value? Who is the fire protection experts in the eyes of the public? Where will they turn? Who will they support? Who is providing the value?

    This Blitz is a continuation of Nationwide Fire Safety Campaign launched by the American Red Cross in October 2014. The goal of the campaign is to reduce deaths and injuries from home fires by as much as 25 percent over the next five years.

    Since the campaign launched last year, teams of Red Cross volunteers and fire officials have installed more than 2,200 smoke alarms and provided fire safety information in neighborhoods across South Carolina.

    To learn more about fire prevention visit Redcross.org. To learn more about becoming a volunteer or donating to help people affected by disasters like home fires visit www.redcross.org/EasternSC or call 843.477.0020."

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    I say let them put up smoke detectors until the cows come home in my district. We are volunteer and we do well to get people with enough time to train and respond to calls. We have done a couple of smoke detector efforts and we do prevention here and there. But if they want it, they can have it. A paid department probably has the staffing to do more, but not us.

    It's a big leap to go from prevention and education into suppression, at least in areas with more than a rudimentary fire department.

    And how do we look to the public if they thinking we're getting jealous of the Red Cross, or territorial about what they do? Especially when we don't have time to do it?
    Last edited by EastKyFF; 03-02-2015 at 12:45 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EastKyFF View Post
    I say let them put up smoke detectors until the cows come home in my district. We are volunteer and we do well to get people with enough time to train and respond to calls. We have done a couple of smoke detector efforts and we do prevention here and there. But if they want it, they can have it. A paid department probably has the staffing to do more, but not us.

    It's a big leap to go from prevention and education into suppression, at least in areas with more than a rudimentary fire department.

    And how do we look to the public if they thinking we're getting jealous of the Red Cross, or territorial about what they do? Especially when we don't have time to do it?
    Can't say much with volunteers. You all are fully pressed just to staff and respond. I fully appreciate that.

    But suppression and education/prevention is not a big lead. Public supports the fire department. Prevention/education is what gives John Q the daily value he/she wants and keeps the fire service in the forefront of their mind come budget time. Being involved with your community continuously on prevention/education, etc is what gets you support and funding for suppression as well. If the only time your public sees or hear about your department is when there is a fire then when it comes to budget then that's all you'll get. How many fires do you have? That's how often your public hears about what you do. This is not just my philosophy here. Studies after studies show departments who engage their citizens on a regular basis have stronger support and more funding.

    It's not about jealousy. It's about a wake up call. After decades of leading the industrialized world in fire issues the Red Cross has been able to fill such an enormous void in personal fire protection for the everyday citizens. The fact that there are so many homes for them to install smoke detectors in says volumes on how much the fire service has been active in their communities.

    Again if your department is a volunteer department then I tip my hat to you and by no means am I trying to say that volunteers aren't doing enough. No way and no how. But the ARC is not only active in volunteer districts but fully paid/career departments who have had firefighters sitting in stations with homes that are receptive to this public service sitting unengaged until the ARC came along.

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