Editorial: Hot-Button Issues

Sometimes, there are so many fires, emergencies, special events, presentations, classes, conferences, meetings and trips that we may not focus enough attention on specific "hot-button" issues. Let's take a look at a few of them.

A former captain who served under me and moved to the Philadelphia area mailed me a very interesting article published in the February 2001 issue of Philadelphia Magazine. Apparently, at least 130 of the city's 4,400 active and retired firefighters, paramedics and emergency medical technicians have contracted hepatitis C - a blood-borne, often fatal virus that attacks the liver. Gary Ludwig's EMS column has reported on this crisis in recent issues. The article drives home the point that there are issues that need to be resolved because lives are at stake. In this case and every case we respond to, it is lives we are concerned about. The hot-button issue a few years ago was firefighter health and safety. We want all firefighters to return home safely after their tours of duty, just the way they reported for duty. As Phoenix Fire Chief Alan Brunacini said during a recent interview, "Firefighters are our most important resource, we keep them for 25 or 30 years."

We are on the road again, recently returning from the Fire Rescue West conference in San Jose, CA, with a lot of great programs and speakers presenting timely topics. In the accompany photo, Worcester, MA, District Chief Mike McNamee makes a presentation during last fall's fundraiser to support a memorial to the six firefighters who were killed in the line of duty in 1999. Firehouse® co-sponsored that event, and March 18-22 Firehouse® Magazine and Firehouse.com will co-sponsor the Vision 2001 conference in Seattle. We are also proud to support the East Meets West conference developed after the Worcester fundraiser to be held in Los Angeles County May 19-20. Each month, we will update the programs and speakers for the Firehouse Expo to be held in Baltimore. Pre-conference programs will take place July 24-25, the main program July 26, 27 and 28, the parade and flea market July 29. Look for information inside this issue and look for future updates on Firehouse.com. Hope to see you there.

As Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, reports on page 20, if not for the hard work of the fire service organizations that had to stick together as well as several elected officials, the FIRE Act would not have been realized. The $100 million to be shared by the fire service has finally come to fruition. Details are being released on how to apply, prepare grant paperwork or through electronic means and documentation of need for the grant money. More on this as it becomes available. Hal Bruno has reported on the progress of the long and drawn-out battle of the passage of the FIRE Act.

In one of his best efforts to date, Vincent Dunn presents his latest Safety & Survival column on page 26. Chief Dunn provides a down-to-earth look at 50 situations that can result in firefighter deaths. Read them and weep!