Editorial: Setting a Course: Only Time and Your Help Will Tell the Outcome

Election Day has come and gone. Some surprising turns of events were noted after the ballots were tabulated across the country. Conventional wisdom says you should ask candidates for their views on fire service issues and request that they lend their support to us before an election.

But what about after an election? If you haven't spoken to your public officials yet, now may be a great time, especially if they are just beginning their terms in office. Many newly elected politicians, some serving for the first time, have never had to deal with the fire service. They may not have a clue about who we are and what we do. Many have never even stepped inside a firehouse, much less viewed a fire or emergency scene up close. Don't miss a great opportunity to teach your officials what fire, EMS and rescue are all about. If elected officials can learn more about you and the services you provide to your community 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, they can help with budgets, equipment purchases, apparatus and support for other needed projects. The only way you'll get ahead is to share your knowledge with them and win their support. If you shut the door and keep your distance, you'll probably play catch up for a long time to come.

A bill (the 21st Century Fire and Public Safety Act) introduced by Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) needs the support of the fire service as well as all our newly elected and re-elected national officials. This bill would appropriate $1 billion a year for five years to the entire U.S. fire service. It's a small amount compared to law enforcement, but it's a start. Please send letters asking your public officials to support it. The more mail they receive, the better they can judge public reaction and lend support.

Hal Bruno's column on page 10 takes an in-depth look at the Blue Ribbon Panel's report to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt on the United States Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy. Steve Austin, chairman of the Blue Ribbon Panel empowered to report to Witt, provides first-person insight into the board's numerous recommendations, which can be found beginning on page 28.

The deadline is quickly approaching for the 1998 Firehouse Heroism and Community Awards program. The deadline is Jan. 22, 1999. If a firefighter has made a special or unusual rescue or has performed above and beyond with a community service project, please call us at 516-845-2700, extension 230 or send a fax on department letterhead to 516-845-7109 to request a heroism nomination form. Help us honor America's Bravest by submitting a completed form to the largest fire service heroism and community services program in the nation.

We are proud to announce that the long-awaited launch of the Firehouse® Web site will take place on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1998. You can access the site by typing www.Firehouse.com. This site, containing the most extensive fire information available anywhere, will be your one stop for the latest fire news, headlines, links, information about the magazine, archives, hot shots, new deliveries, Firehouse Expo 99, and much, much more.