Editorial: Another World

Congratulations and best wishes to Bill Hershman, recently promoted to publisher of Firehouse® Magazine. Since Bill joined us, we have four members of the Firehouse® staff who are members of the fire service.

Recently, I received a copy of an article detailing a lawsuit filed against several fire departments after a fire involving trucks on an interstate highway. The fire spread and severely damaged a highway overpass. I watched the fire on live TV. The suit, from the truck chassis owner and truck lessee, names six fire departments and their municipalities.

In the incident, a fuel tanker and two tractor-trailer trucks collided on the highway. The suit alleges the fire departments should have known more about how to extinguish the fire. There is much more to the story and there are many questions to be answered. It just goes to show that in this day and age, no one is exempt from legal action.

We are working to host a meeting of fire department attorneys at Firehouse Expo 2003 in Baltimore in July. Legal advice and answers to many law-related questions are a true necessity in today's fire, rescue and EMS response services. In the future, we will bring you other timely information and expertise in the always-changing Fire Law section. This information will allow first responders to perform an adequate and safe response, tactical operation and mitigation of the incident scene. There are also many areas that the law focuses on inside the firehouse and related areas. You need to be adequately protected inside the station and out. Better to be proactive and forewarned than to find out in a subpoena. Just a few months ago, every firefighter was a hero. Now, with millions watching on live TV, you'd better be sure you're doing the job correctly.

Speaking of the Firehouse Expo, an updated program list and other information can be found on pages 56 and 57. Training including inside lectures and hands-on training are available to make your Expo experience something that you can take back and utilize with your fellow firefighters. We aren't killing firefighters in new ways, just the same as we always have. There haven't been any line-of-duty deaths recently from hazmat or WMD incidents, thankfully, just the same old house fires and commercial incidents that we respond to each and every day. The number of deaths that we suffer on the roads and highways as firefighters operate on or responding to continue to occur. During this year's Firehouse Expo, we will offer several seminars specific to this problem, which is a must-see for all attendees. See www.FirehouseExpo.com for more details.

Another area of discussion lately is manpower. Some of us have all the manpower we can handle and many others never have enough. Efforts are underway to pass legislation to hire more career members. As always, some departments are or have threatened layoffs. Some departments close rotating stations each tour. Others, like FDNY, just announced the impending closure of eight companies. Other departments, especially in the South and West, continue to build stations and hire personnel to keep up with their growth. The quicker you put the wet stuff on the red stuff, the safer the operation, not only for the firefighters, but the occupants as well.

Speaking of safety, on page 50, Mike Smith takes another look at flashovers after a line-of-duty death in Ohio. Mike Dugan and Joe Berry relate information regarding window air conditioners and their deadly potential to operating firefighters on pages 58 and 61. Charles Werner presents an in-depth review on radio interoperability and what it means to the fire service on page 78. Finally, in the area of Homeland Security, Hank Christen and Michael Malone present an outline on page 52 for Fire/EMS Critical Infrastructure Protection in today's unsettled times.