Editorial: Full Speed Ahead

As I was writing this editorial, the following came across my computer:

Washington - The "Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act" introduced by Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-NJ) is the first comprehensive national legislation dedicated to meet the special needs of America's 32,000 volunteer, paid and part-paid fire departments. Pascrell's bill was introduced in the Senate, where it was successfully attached to and was finally included in the FY01 (Fiscal Year 2001) Department of Defense authorization conference report, which passed in the House, 382 to 33. The Senate is anticipated to pass the measure shortly and the President is expected to give it his signature, making the landmark FIRE Act law.

The amended FIRE Act, as passed in the conference report, authorizes $400 million over two years in competitive grants to the nation's local fire departments. Grants would be awarded directly to local fire departments best able to identify their needs to be used to hire new personnel, initiate education and training programs, or to purchase new equipment. America's 32,000 paid, volunteer and part-paid departments will all be eligible for the grants under the program, which will be administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

A big tip of the helmet to all those involved who stuck it out and kept up the fight. It might not be all that the fire service expected, but it is a beginning. See Hal Bruno's column on page 16 for the latest details.

As we come to the end of this year and we approach our 25th anniversary issue next August, we are already working on several special projects for next year. Firehouse® is to co-sponsor the Fire Rescue West conference in San Jose, CA, Feb. 5-8. Hands-on training is planned for Feb. 5. Firehouse Expo is scheduled for July 26-29. Two full pre-conference days on July 24 and 25 are being planned to allow a much-expanded hands-on training program to be presented at multiple sites. Firehouse® also plans to co-sponsor Vision 2001, the Seattle Fire Department Officers Association's training conference, to be held March 18-22. Check Firehouse.com for details, links, sign-up information and current program status.

In this issue we discuss the circumstances, rescue operations and recovery problems that confronted commanders at the tragic collapse of the famed Texas A&M Bonfire. See page 46 for the details of the intricate and very involved rescue.

More and more thermal imaging cameras from different manufacturers are entering the fire service, and it is our intention to present the latest technology, tactical considerations and proper procedures. The interpretation of a camera's display is most important when using this tool. It is another important weapon in our firefighting arsenal, and all firefighters must train and be familiar with the cameras so we can do a better job for the public we serve and our fellow firefighters. See page 54 for an interesting and educational report.

We are happy to report that the Worcester Fire Department Safety and Training Seminar 2000 that we co-sponsored and which was spearheaded on our behalf by Jersey City, NJ, Battalion Chief and Firehouse® Contributing Editor Robert Cobb was a great success. Two days of fire service education, camaraderie and a tremendous financial benefit for the Worcester firefighter memorial was the end result. A great team effort.