Firefighters dealt with a myriad of challenges during 2012.
In addition to structure and wildland fires and a multitude of EMS calls, they also found themselves dealing with Mother Nature’s fury and the horrific aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
USFA Deputy Administrator Glenn Gaines said many departments not only lost apparatus and facilities, but saw their ranks shrink as well.
Becoming victims rather than responders proved challenging.
“Many lost their homes, and faced difficult decisions about whether they should be serving others in peril while their own families were suffering.”
Gaines said officers should make sure they have a seat at the table when emergency managers are establishing a disaster plan. “It’s important they be part of the planning process.”
With the number of wildfires burning across the country, he encouraged firefighters to do risk assessments in their areas.
“Ahead of time, a decision should be made whether people should be deployed into other communities to help.”
The economy, the former fire chief said, was felt by every fire and EMS agency regardless whether they are volunteer, career or combination. Many are struggling to provide the services with fewer people.
Some volunteers are working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and many departments have been forced to sideline firefighters.
“I urge people to go to the USFA website, and download a report our staff has done – Funding Alternatives for Emergency Medical and Fire Services.”
Gaines added that this is the perfect time for departments to educate local officials about what they do, and more importantly, show how valuable they are to the community.
“We’re all going through a tough time. But, the fire and EMS service will survive. We have some very, very dedicated people.”