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  1. #1
    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    Default Interesting Article

    Found this while googleing how many firefighters their are in the US.........


    http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=expre...terbrook080904

    Where's the Fire?
    by Gregg Easterbrook
    Only at TNR Online | Post date 08.09.04



    After witnessing the valor of the New York City Fire Department on September 11, it is impossible not to admire firefighters: The words "firefighter" and "hero" are going to be synonymous for a long time. For the John Kerry campaign, there's a second level of firefighter admiration; the International Association of Fire Fighters was the first major union to back Kerry, and stayed in his camp when the chips were down. Kerry has responded by constantly praising firefighters and by calling for federal legislation to fund 100,000 more firefighters. Firefighters were prominent on the Democratic National Convention stage in Boston; firefighters and fire-union officials often appear with Kerry or John Edwards at campaign stops. Yes, it's impossible not to admire firefighters. But it's quite possible not to want more of them. Indeed, most cities in the United States need fewer firefighters.

    Though firefighters have numerous duties, their chief task is to fight building fires--and building fires are in a long-term cycle of decline. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 48 percent fewer building fires in the United States than in 1977, though there were substantially more buildings. From 1977 to 2002, civilian deaths in fires declined 46 percent and deaths of firefighters declined 38 percent. The trends of fewer fires, fewer civilian deaths, and fewer firefighter deaths hold for almost every year of the past quarter-century except 2001, the year of September 11. Stricter building codes, the proliferation of smoke detectors, and the fact that most new commercial structures and many new homes have built-in sprinkler systems has led to a big drop in the incidence and severity of building fires.

    Once, fire trucks roared out of firehouses on a regular basis; now, a fire company may go days or even weeks without a fire to respond to. For instance the fire department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that in 2003 , it received 389 fire calls--an average of one fire call per week for each of Green Bay's seven fire stations. Some fire departments have begun sending fire trucks along on ambulance calls, just to keep firefighters in practice manning their trucks and moving out fast. The decline in building fires should be credited in no small part to firefighters, their unions, and fire departments: All three spent decades pushing for smoke detectors, built-in sprinklers, and tougher building codes. The results have been extremely beneficial to the public. But this leaves firefighters with less to do.





    Yet Kerry wants more firefighters, and he's not the only one. The Safer Fire Fighter Act, which would add 75,000 federally funded firefighters, has 15 Senate co-sponsors including Kerry and Tom Daschle, and 53 House co-sponsors. (The bill concerns civic firefighters, not the wilderness wildfire problem, though sometimes civic fire departments do end up fighting wildfires.) Many in Congress think their sense of gratitude to firefighters for their brothers' sacrifice on September 11 should be expressed by more federal funding. For the Kerry campaign, his proposal to add 100,000 firefighters to communities echoes Bill Clinton's backing of federal funding to put 100,000 more policemen onto the streets, an initiative that both helped reduce crime and won praise for Clinton. But many cities really needed more policemen. It's much less clear that more firefighters are needed, except in a few core inner-city areas where fire departments are chronically understaffed and overburdened by minor medical calls.

    Some of the impetus for more firefighters stems from a 2002 report from the National Fire Protection Association, the standards-setting body of the firefighting profession, that declared that 75,000 to 85,000 new firefighters are needed. This report formed the basis of the Safer Act before Congress, and buttresses claims by Kerry, by the International Association of Fire Fighters, and others that big staffing increases are required. Also, the NFPA report has caused some cities and towns to begin seeking more firefighters, owing to litigation fears--if someone dies in a building fire and the local fire department did not meet the new NFPA standards, some municipal attorneys fear, the city or town may lose a liability suit.

    Yet the basis of the main finding in the NFPA report is not that there are insufficient firefighters to stop fires. Rather, the report makes the assumption that all fire trucks should be staffed with four firefighters, while most fire departments today assign two or three firefighters per truck. If you assume that a fire truck should never roll with less than four men (most firefighters are male), then the fire departments of the United States are understaffed. But it's an open question, at best, whether every fire truck really needs four firefighters, especially considering how often the trucks end up responding to calls that don't even involve a fire. The NFPA report contains dozens of tables of facts and figures about firefighters, fire departments, budgets, and equipment, but the decline in most kinds of fires (wildfires are the exception) basically goes unmentioned in the 160-page NFPA document, since this tends to kick the chair out from under calls for a big increase in the number of firefighters.

    Currently, according to the NFPA, there are 266,100 paid career firefighters and 822,850 volunteer firefighters in the United States--more than a million total firefighters, a pretty sizeable number even if a career firefighter is much more valuable because he's better trained and faster to the scene than a volunteer. In 2002, there were 1.7 million fires in the United States: less than two fires per firefighter over the course of the year. While some individual fire houses may be overworked, on the whole today's firefighters are underworked--which is good!

    But aren't firefighters on the front line in the war on terror? In the aftermath of September 11, many, including proponents of the Safer Act, have begun to argue that all fire departments must now prepare to handle terrorist attacks, hazardous materials, and biological contaminants, while being ready for catastrophic city-wide fires and explosions. The Council on Foreign Relations went so far as to declare in 2003 that firefighters and other first responders are "drastically underfunded"--this is after three years of big homeland-security budget increases--and complained, among other things, that only 10 percent of U.S. fire departments had equipment to handle a large building collapse. But even in an age of terrorism, large building collapses are likely to remain rare: Most firefighters will never see one. True, the detonation in a United States city of a crude atomic bomb, the terror attack we should fear more than any other, is something no fire department in the country is ready for. But no fire department will ever be ready for such a dark hour. Meanwhile, the chance of any given firefighter or fire house ever being asked to respond to a terrorist attack is incredibly small.

    The principle job of a firefighter is to fight fires, and for that, the United States already has plenty of firefighters: bearing in mind that some communities have more firefighters than they need while some inner-city fire departments are understaffed. In many urban areas, firefighters would benefit from improved social and community services that would shift non-emergency medical calls and nuisance calls off their duty lists, freeing up time to train and prepare for hazardous-material or biohazard problems. But the argument that the country needs a huge increase in firefighting personnel seems weak. Where there's smoke, there may not be fire.

    Gregg Easterbrook is a contributing editor at The New Republic and a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
    ------------------------------------


  2. #2
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    That is his opinion, and opinions are like anal sphincters.. everybody has one, some of them stink... some more than others.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    That is his opinion, and opinions are like anal sphincters.. everybody has one, some of them stink... some more than others.
    From the article:
    But aren't firefighters on the front line in the war on terror? In the aftermath of September 11, many, including proponents of the Safer Act, have begun to argue that all fire departments must now prepare to handle terrorist attacks, hazardous materials, and biological contaminants, while being ready for catastrophic city-wide fires and explosions.

    The principle job of a firefighter is to fight fires, and for that, the United States already has plenty of firefighters

    Though firefighters have numerous duties, their chief task is to fight building fires--and building fires are in a long-term cycle of decline. In 2002, the most recent year for which statistics are available, there were 48 percent fewer building fires in the United States than in 1977, though there were substantially more buildings. From 1977 to 2002, civilian deaths in fires declined 46 percent and deaths of firefighters declined 38 percent. The trends of fewer fires, fewer civilian deaths, and fewer firefighter deaths hold for almost every year of the past quarter-century except 2001, the year of September 11. Stricter building codes, the proliferation of smoke detectors, and the fact that most new commercial structures and many new homes have built-in sprinkler systems has led to a big drop in the incidence and severity of building fires.

    all fire trucks should be staffed with four firefighters, while most fire departments today assign two or three firefighters per truck.
    Just curious, what things do you disagree with Chief?

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    Exclamation

    ----------------
    Last edited by POWERSLADDER2; 08-26-2007 at 09:04 PM.

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    this article is interesting because of the numbers,the author wrote.but as usual,like here,in France,the fire service needs more money and firefighters.

    the money could help to buy more PPE for firefighters or can help to pay trainings or apparatus.
    "sauver ou périr"

    "courage et dévouement"

    2 french mottoes in french fire service.

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    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    From the article:


    Just curious, what things do you disagree with Chief?

    Eatserbrook is trying to justify cutting FD staffing because there are "less fires". That is actually a misnomer, as the fire alarm systems of today are activating while the fire is still in it's incipent stage, detecting smoke and allowing firefighters to put out the stove fire before it becomes a full blown kitchen fire, etc.

    It's funny, we have less "fires", but the run totals keep going up.

    When I got on the job in 1981, the 10 year average was 2500 calls per year.

    In the last 5 years, we have averaged 5500 calls a year, and with the new construction of apartment and condo complexes and industrial/commercial occupanies, we will probably hit the 6000+ incidents a year mark in the near future.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  7. #7
    Badgerland FOOL mvfd27's Avatar
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    The article talks about fewer fires and underworked houses etc. But, the author also points out that there short staffed houses, many in lower income neighborhoods. These also seem to be the neighborhoods that most of the fires seem to happen in so these crews are overworked. These are the stations that could use help from an extra 100,000 ff's that Kerry and others propose. Yes, maybe on the whole we have plenty of ff's, but shouldn't the understaffed areas get the help they need as well? The extras can let these struggling depts more evenly distribute the wealth of ff's we apparantly have and level the playing field to ensure everyone has adequate fire protection services.

    The long and short of it, yes not all areas need more ff's, but even if just a hand full of depts need more staffing it worth the investment to make sure everyone has a full staffed station protecting their neighborhoods, where ever they might be.

    edited to add:
    I also agree with what Powers said, ff's do more than ever, its not just vehicle extrication and fighting fires anymore.
    Last edited by mvfd27; 08-10-2007 at 12:45 PM.

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    I thought this looked familiar. There was a fair amount of discussion of this column three years ago...

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    Forum Member backsteprescue123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sts060 View Post
    I thought this looked familiar. There was a fair amount of discussion of this column three years ago...
    I figured that it was on here somewhere and after a quick search, I couldn't find anything.
    ------------------------------------
    These opinions are mine and do not reflect the opinions of any organizations I am affiliated with.
    ------------------------------------

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    "For instance the fire department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that in 2003 , it received 389 fire calls--an average of one fire call per week for each of Green Bay's seven fire stations"

    Is this really a true statement????

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    "For instance the fire department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that in 2003 , it received 389 fire calls--an average of one fire call per week for each of Green Bay's seven fire stations"

    Is this really a true statement????
    Statistically, yes. Factually, no.

    389 calls / 7 stations = ~55 calls per station. 55 calls / 52 weeks = 1 per week.
    389 calls / 52 weeks = ~ 7.5 calls per week. 7.5 calls / 7 stations = 1 per station.

    See, you can make stats work whatever way you want them to.


    Does not matter that they are incorrect, but they show what the author wants shown.
    "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?

  12. #12
    Forum Member res54cuecaptain's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTFIRE80 View Post
    "For instance the fire department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that in 2003 , it received 389 fire calls--an average of one fire call per week for each of Green Bay's seven fire stations"

    Is this really a true statement????
    hmm...but one thing you have to take into consideration is: how many stations go per call? at a normal working fire, or a 2 vehicle mva w/injuries and entrapment, im SURE that more than one of those stations will go (of course, i dont know about what equipment and manpower is at each station, so i could be wrong)

    so saying that each station only runs 1 call a week is a broad statement. and is this just FIRE calls, or ALL calls (fire, rescue, ems, qrs, water rescue, etc.)
    First in, Last out, nobody left behind.....

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    Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.

    I know people here hate to hear me use that term, because it makes us sound like a business, but the reality is the ifre service does little to help this image that we don't do much.

    Most fire departments don't have a PIO and hide from the media. Most departments don't seek out the media to do stories on new equipment, new skills, new gear etc. etc. Most departments don't submit articles and press releases to the media.

    And there are still many departments that hide behind the doors of the fire station, and really don't get envolved in community events or do a lot of public education.

    Compare that to your local and state law enforcement. Active PIOs that get on camera as much as possible. Constant news stories about new stuff and new programs. Proactive in the community. We all know what I'm talking about.

    Yet we sit and complain when someone says " the fire department doesn't need all that _____ (men, money, equipment)". Or we complain when we feel unappreciatted. The bottom line a lot of this is our fault because we haven't figured out what out LE counterparts figured out long ago. You need to let the community know what you do. You need to make the effort. You need to be proactive in the community and not hide behind the station walls.

    Until the fire service understands that we need to market ourselves, many in the community will have the same iseas as this guy.

  14. #14
    MembersZone Subscriber swarmy's Avatar
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    LA-

    Good points! Don't fall over or anything...but...in general, I'd have to say that I agree with you. We can never do enough marketing.

    My dept has several full time pub-ed specialists, and we are all over the media (local cable, local papers etc.). And, I know that my fire department (and our union) does a good job of getting out into the public. We go to fairs, block-parties, ice-cream socials, etc. After hanging out and speaking with the citizens, I am always amazed at how little they know about the level of service (and the variety of services) that we provide.
    "...there isn't a firefighter in the free world who is forced to join this profession." -John Norman

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    -----------------
    Last edited by POWERSLADDER2; 08-26-2007 at 09:03 PM.

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    Originally Posted by JTFIRE80
    "For instance the fire department in Green Bay, Wisconsin, reports that in 2003 , it received 389 fire calls--an average of one fire call per week for each of Green Bay's seven fire stations"

    Is this really a true statement????

    Quote Originally Posted by res54cuecaptain View Post
    hmm...but one thing you have to take into consideration is: how many stations go per call? at a normal working fire, or a 2 vehicle mva w/injuries and entrapment, im SURE that more than one of those stations will go (of course, i dont know about what equipment and manpower is at each station, so i could be wrong)

    so saying that each station only runs 1 call a week is a broad statement. and is this just FIRE calls, or ALL calls (fire, rescue, ems, qrs, water rescue, etc.)

    Not too often the dept you work for gets called out with numbers, so yes, those numbers are correct. Fire calls are based off of actual fires and fire alarms. For a fire call 3 engines, 1 ladder, 1 rescue squad, and 1 battalion chief respond for a total of 18 personnel. Nuisance fires and car fires just get a single engine response. As for a breakdown of stations, there are only 3 single engine houses, the rest are multiple company stations.

    MVA's are counted as EMS calls even if extrication was used. The ladders carry the jaws, but the call still goes down as EMS. So depending on the MVA, only one station may respond, for the most part an engine and ambulance are sent on an MVA.

    As for the numbers being for fire calls only, absolutely. We have been averaging over 9000 calls a year counting everything and that number has been going up annually. So to say the breakdown of a call per week per engine is correct, but we have our busy areas and our slow areas. The busiest stations definately pick up the slack for the slower ones and you can make the numbers look how you want, but I would say that breakdown is accurate.

    I do agree with what Powerladders and DaGonz have to say as well. It isn't the fact of fewer fires or to send a pump with EMS so they can keep ready B.S., it is about the fire service ever changing and having more responsibilities. The job isn't all about fire anymore and just because there is less fire doesn't mean that there won't be more. In our case the 389 fire calls in 2003 was nothing compared to the number of calls in 2006. As for EMS, an engine is sent typically for difficulty breathing, chest pain, major trauma, and lift assistance. Like many depts, there are basics and medics on the pump and are typically closer to some calls than the ambulance. It isn't about "keeping ready", but ensuring the citizens get immediate care.

    You may have a few years of little fire and then the next, you're running your butt off. Fighting fires is not just about response times, but having people there to get the job done, that is what many "experts" and politicians fail to see. Sure you can cut an engine from 4 to 2 and there won't be a change in response times, but not too much 2 people can do right away and fire casualties (lives, injuries, property loss) are almost guaranteed to go up.
    Last edited by jccrabby3084; 08-12-2007 at 12:37 AM.

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