Fire Service Leaders Reflect The Past, Present and Future of Firehouse Magazine

A sampling of long-time contributors look back at our first 30 years to assess that state of the fire-rescue service then, now and in the years to come.


HAL BRUNO Hal Bruno, a Firehouse® contributing editor, retired as political director for ABC News in Washington and served almost 40 years as a volunteer firefighter. He is a director of the Chevy Chase, MD, Fire Department and chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation...


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Firehouse: What do you see changing or needs to change in the next 30 years in the fire service?

Rubin: There needs to be some sort of breakthrough that causes firefighter health and safety issues to be closely adhered to by everyone. The phrase that I like to use is that it must be more painful not to follow basic safety rules like NFPA 1500 and 1710 than what it currently is. Folks tend to take the path of least resistance and especially when it comes to breaking old habits, such as not using seatbelts or failing to stop at stop signs or red lights (all personal pet peeves). Firefighter fatalities will be reduced only when it is more difficult to break the rules rather than follow the rules. This (make it painful not to follow the rules) is a strongly held personal belief.

Also, all types of funding need to be much easier to obtain and more of it made available to fire-rescue agencies nationwide. Most places that I know and have worked at are woefully underfunded. That long-term trend has to be corrected if we are to be successful in the future. Living in broken-down stations and using unreliable, outdated equipment is a dangerous practice and not very wise.

Firehouse: What has your involvement with Firehouse® Magazine meant to you and to our readers?

Rubin: Wow! What a great personal and professional experience Firehouse® Magazine had been for me. I have been lucky enough to be affiliated with the magazine since 1978 (two years after it started). I have met and worked with some of the very best people in this nation (Dennis Smith, Jeff Barrington, Harvey Eisner, Hal Bruno, Jimmy Smith, Rich Adams, may he rest in peace, and so many, many more great ones) because of opportunities that Firehouse® has provided. I hope that I don’t jinx myself, but I have made every Baltimore conference and have enjoyed every minute of perhaps the best conferences the American fire-rescue service has to offer. I have used the pages of the magazine to help crusade for firefighter safety and command causes.

Finally, I have received dozens, if not hundreds of notes, cards and e-mails over the years, which are typically making positive comments about the body of work that I have contributed to the magazine over the past nearly 30 years. What a great feeling and pleasure to be associated with such a dynamic group of people that have had such an impact.


DENNIS COMPTON
Dennis Compton, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is the author of several books, including the When In Doubt, Lead! series, Mental Aspects of Performance for Firefighters and Fire Officers, as well as many other articles and publications. He is also the co-editor of the current edition of the ICMA textbook Managing Fire and Rescue Services. He serves as a national executive advisor and advocate for the fire service, homeland security, and other organizations. Compton was the fire chief in Mesa, AZ, for five years and assistant fire chief in Phoenix, where he served for 27 years. He is past chair of the executive board of the International Fire Service Training Association, past chair of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Advisory Committee, vice chair of the Board of Directors for the Home Safety Council, and serves on the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation board of directors.

Firehouse: Please describe the largest or most significant fire you responded to in your career.

Compton: It’s difficult for me to pick one fire in my career above all the others based on size or significance. There have been groups of buildings on fire, complexes under construction that were burning, shopping centers, high-rise fires, hospitals, apartment buildings, wildland fires, resorts and hotels on fire, fires involving hazardous materials, huge debris and tire fires, and major special operations and USAR responses on a national level…the list would go on and on.