"It's been a unique experiencing going through the dot-com bust, surviving, and managing to grow to what we have today from relatively simple beginnings to more than two dozen full time employees and countless contributors today that are needed to run the site," Iannone said.
The growth of Firehouse.com has been greatly enhanced by its sister properties within Cygnus Business Media.
"Without the support of Firehouse Magazine, and our trade shows, Firehouse Expo and Firehouse World, and the promotional vehicle they have offered, we would not be what we are today. But in the end it comes down to our users, who are probably among the most dedicated of any online," Iannone said.
"There was an outpouring of support after 9/11 when tens of thousands of firefighters across the globe came together and raised tens of millions of dollars for the families of FDNY's fallen heroes, and came together for the memorial services a year later," Iannone said, "and we were able to be the bridge to the world's firefighters for all the information and resources that were needed."
Firehouse Magazine founder Dennis Smith said the site is an extremely valuable and effective resource. "I think you've come a long way," he said. "I think it's been tremendously effective and that it's the most important new media for the fire service since Firehouse Magazine."
As the site has grown, it has strived to bring into focus on a national scale complete coverage of the most thought-provoking incidents, such as the deadly live-fire training accidents in Utica, New York and Osceola County, Florida, and the drunk driving accident in Newcastle, Wyoming that caused the death of a 16-year-old fire explorer.
Firehouse.Com's news coverage, commentaries and columns have not only reported, but have probed the issues, such as when aggressive interior firefighting should become exterior firefighting and what level of training should be required and what standards should be demanded of fire departments in areas where there is little regulation.
Such coverage has caused decision makers to review and perhaps change ordinances and laws. Scott's Law was created in Illinois after the roadside death of Chicago Fire Lt. Scott Gillen, and fire inspections were initiated all over the Northeast after the Rhode Island nightclub fire.
Firefighters come weekly to the site to check in for the latest HotShot photography, training articles in the MembersZone, hold hundreds of discussions weekly in the forums, chat live online and much more.
Other milestones have included Firehouse.Com's Emergency Fest in May 2000, coverage of the Hepatitis C first responder epidemic in Philadelphia and extensive, ongoing coverage of the federal FIRE Act grant program that began in 2001.
"With five great years under our belt we are still learning how to be a better service to our loyal readers," Hebert said. "Just like the fire service we look forward to the challenges ahead and will strive to find new ways to inform our audience for the next five years."
The widespread sharing of news and ideas has had a real effect on Firehouse.Com's readers. Phil Whitson, who runs an intense high school firefighting program in Mariposa County, California that includes real live-fire training and Firefighter 1 certification, said that after his program was covered on Firehouse.Com he received calls from around the country and has since helped start four similar programs around California. "I got calls from all over the U.S. including Alaska," he said. "We're known nationally now."
Making An Impact
It didn't take long for Firehouse.Com to become not only a leading source of information for members of the fire service, but for the leaders of the fire service, the government and the fire service organizations.
"Since its inception in 1998, Firehouse.Com has been an excellent resource for the IAFF and our affiliates and members to receive the latest news and information that affects us in the fire service," said Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. "Firehouse.Com has and continues to provide accurate and timely information about all aspects of the fire service and our role as the labor organization representing the interests of the career and professional firefighters and paramedics throughout North America," he said.