Chiefs Discuss Challenges Facing Fire Service

Three operations chief officers shared their thoughts about issues and challenges in the fire service with those who attended Firehouse World.

Tripp said in Los Angeles County, the fire department has gone back to the old “Johnny and Roy” approach to providing EMS coverage in his district – running Dodge trucks around the county providing rapid paramedic care, the kind found in the popular 1970s “Emergency” television show. Patient transport is done by private companies, Tripp said.

Other topics touched upon included fire station compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) legislation and mandated funding for art in new fire station construction. Discussion on those topics suggested most people understand the need for both in public buildings, but fire officials might not like losing the funds that could be used elsewhere.

The session concluded with a brief discussion of cancer in the fire service.

Harms said there’s some personal responsibility firefighters must assume to beat the risk of acquiring the dreaded disease in the fire services.

Keeping turnout gear clean is one huge way to make a difference, Harms said, and another is to require that breathing protection be worn at all times during overhaul.

Franklin said firefighters have to break the fraternity-type behavior that makes it difficult for captains and supervisors to enforce the use of all PPE whenever it’s necessary.

“I am paid to keep you safe and when we’re working, that’s my job no matter if we go golfing or have family vacations together when we’re not working,” Franklin said.

Harms added that his department documents every exposure to potentially cancer causing agents, including smoke. That way, there’s a paper trail if a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer.