The Changing World of the Fire Service

Fire Service Tradition

The operational and management of a modern fire service organization is rapidly changing. What was once considered evolution is now being pushed aside by demands from the public and politicians, and in the midst of these operational and cultural changes, budgets continue to be slashed. What’s a fire department to do?

The good news is that fire codes and inspections are working. There are fewer structure fires to respond to. The not so good news is that because of that, crews are often not experienced enough to properly manage the incident. Too many fire scenes go at least slightly sideways. Training is extremely important, but it likely needs to evolve as well, to be more stressful and realistic, if crews are to successfully manage major fires.

And, with lower fire responses, overall call volumes are up significantly. More fire departments than ever are becoming “full spectrum” life safety agencies. Many are changing their names from “Fire Department,” to “Fire and Rescue,” or “Fire and EMS.” This adds a time and resource demanding component and creates competition with private ambulance carriers.

The unspoken change involves culture cialis versandapotheke. Today’s fire agency must be accountable to the public in transparent ways. And, the fire service is such based around camaraderie that isn’t seen in other professions – where else do you eat, sleep, shower, clean, and train with your co-workers? The result is a complex series of issues related to the psychological and traditional interaction that firefighters have enjoyed for more than 150 years.

In Los Angeles, 90% of training is about fire suppression, but 86% of the calls are for EMS.   The LAFD combines firefighting and EMS with its entire membership. FDNY has dedicated paramedics as do many other cities. Dallas has changed their name from Dallas Fire Department to Dallas Fire Rescue. A name change alone impacts the tradition and history of any department.

The world of EMS is wildly different from that of firefighting. There is subtle stress when dealing with an array of medical issues. There is cultural change – “I didn’t sign up for this,” is a common refrain from seasoned veterans. Today, the blue collar skills of woodworking, metal shop, and mechanical abilities are being replaced with typing, computer and tablet work, and administrative logistics and accountability.

Most of you reading this already know this. But, for many, this isn’t a reality that is easily accepted. Accepting change is challenging, and its more difficult as we get older. So, how do we manage the current drastic changes within the fire service? There are options – and there are solutions. During the coming few months, we’ll talk more about how fire departments can maximize this new order, and do it in a manner that doesn’t destroy the tradition and culture that has made the fire service so special for so long.

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Michael Monroe

Michael Monroe

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