Editorial: Silver Anniversary 1976-2001

Silver Anniversary 1976-2001

Firehouse® Magazine celebrates a quarter century of service to America's Bravest in 2001. During these past years, great strides have been made in firefighting, education, training, technology, apparatus and equipment. The tradition-rich fire service has tackled and overcome many major obstacles and continues to work toward conquering many others.

Twenty-five years ago, fire departments responded and handled whatever came along. Since then, specialization has evolved in many areas - in EMS, high-rise firefighting, hazmat, confined space rescue, urban search and rescue, terrorism, infectious diseases and blood-borne pathogens, incident command, collapse rescue, thermal imaging, wildland fires, health and safety, and rescuing our own. Who could have predicted 25 years ago that most fire departments and firefighters would now be using computers, cell phones, faxes, the Internet, e-mail and beepers? How could we ever do without any of them? Large-flow nozzles, large-diameter hose, light towers, advanced vehicle extrication equipment, thermal imagers, PASS devices, enclosed apparatus cabs, personal protective equipment, global positioning satellite systems, computer-aided dispatch, trunked radio systems, Class A and B foam, defibrillators and many other tools have all made our job easier and safer.

But firefighting is still a dangerous job. Despite all of the innovations, the firefighter still must enter a very hostile environment. By using all of their skill and training, and borrowing from the knowledge and experience of others, firefighters, company officers and incident commanders will safely and successfully mitigate emergency incidents. Firehouse® Magazine, its editors, contributing editors, writers and photographers have been honored to present the latest in strategy, tactics, education, training, technology and other vital information to America's Bravest for 25 years.

In this month's issue, Contributing Editor Bob Winston provides a recap of the 2000 wildland fire season, the worst in many decades, and cautions that this year's wildfires could be even worse. Our photographers also provide graphic proof of the devastation these fires leave behind and the difficult job wildland firefighters do. The coverage starts on page 42.

Speaking of warnings, our November issue featured a Chief's Concerns column in which Chief Winston wrote about his experiences as Tinnitus victim and cautioned us that it threatens the well-being of firefighters across the country. His story generated a large and touching response. We've included a sampling of their comments in Forum on page 10. Judging by the reaction to Bob's column, this malady will haunt the fire service for years to come. But how many fire departments enforce noise-abatement policies? How many firefighters use hearing protection? If your department has such a policy, please let us know about it so that we can learn from each other.

Longtime readers frequently ask us what Dennis Smith, the founder of Firehouse® Magazine, is doing today. Since retiring from the active fire service and from his role as Firehouse® editor and publisher, Dennis has written a number of books and articles, but he also has been deeply involved in finance. His investment work led him to propose that he return to Firehouse® as a columnist reporting on financial matters of concern to emergency responders and their families. His debut column appears on page 72.

Also new this month is the Fire Service Technology column on page 26. Columnist Charles Werner is a longtime Firehouse® contributing editor on technology topics and helped launch the Firehouse.com website. Technology is changing rapidly, and the fire service can benefit by keeping up with latest innovations and adapting them for fire and emergency applications. We welcome the new column, and we congratulate Charles on his well-deserved promotion to deputy chief of the Charlottesville, VA, Fire Department.