Where's the Fire?
The peak year for America's dental schools was 1981, when 22,842 students were enrolled and learning to be dentists. Then suddenly the number dropped, and by the early 1990s some colleges were closing their dental schools. What happened to the dentists? A number of things, some of it demographic and economic, but the big factor was that we didn't need as many dentists anymore. Better oral hygiene and the introduction of fluoride into water systems meant that people had fewer cavities. Good for us, bad for the dentists. The fate of the dentists is worth pondering because something similar is going on with firefighters. Simply put, we have fewer serious fires to fight these days, thanks to sprinkler systems, smoke detectors, changes in building codes and the widespread use of cell phones, which enable people to report small fires before they become big ones. How much has this affected firefighting? The National Fire Protection Association says that the number of fires declined by nearly half from 1980 to 2003, from 3 million to 1.6 million. Firefighters know how much their profession has changed along the way. "When I was a rookie," said one long-time member of Washington, D.C.'s fire department, "I responded to four or five fires a day, and we were dog-tired when we went home. Now, we get one or two good fires a month.... Fire is a very small part of what we do now." And what exactly do firefighters do, if they're not fighting fires? Increasingly, they're paramedics, arriving first on the scene of a heart attack or car wreck and administering first aid until the EMTs arrive in an ambulance. That, at least, is a growing business. The number of medical runs made by firefighters grew from 5 million in 1980 to nearly 13 million in 2002. Is this a good use of firefighters' time? Probably not, and some cities have responded to the decline in fires by closing stations. But there's a limit to how much you can shrink a fire department and still protect a city, so the paramedic duties at least keep the firefighters occupied. Footnote: Not surprisingly, training for firefighters has changed in recent years, with much more instruction about medical emergencies and possible terrorist threats and less training in how to keep a fire hose from tangling.
Posted Dec. 14, 2004
From Governing.com, Otis White's Urban Notebook, December15, 2004
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Thread: The Plight of the Firefighter
12-15-2004, 04:38 PM #1
The Plight of the FirefighterRyan
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. -Eleanor Roosevelt
Lets not forget those lost on 9-11-01
12-15-2004, 06:09 PM #2
I think this reflects very well on the good health that the US is currently enjoying. Your industries and economy are doing better, people have more money etc... and law and order is good
That is a different picture in the UK, sure ther is plenty of money around and the economy is booming but thanks largely to London and the South East where most of the money and commerce is (generally) but elsehwere (as mentioned in another post) there has been massive industrial decline which as seen many areas become economic ghost towns. Add this to the very sharp rise in crime and disorder things are not good here.
Conversely after quieting down in the late 80's and early 90's we have seen our fires rise dramatically over the past few years in most urban areas. The last Goverment figures for the whole of the UK(2002) reported almost 1 Million fires, quite a lot for a small country of 60,000,000 people and 60,000 Firefighters.
I guess once 'urban regeneration' reaches these areas and someone 'gets a grip' of crime and disorder we will return to the decline in fires that we bagn to see a decade or so ago.
Still won't make a hoot of difference to Firefighter numbers though, even with the increase in work, increased threat of terrorism and its severity compared to IRA terrorism we are being cut further and further every year.Steve Dude
London Fire Brigade...."Can Do"
'Irony'... It's a British thing.
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