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How do you fight the concept of ‘too many heroes’? The Boston Globe outlines one of the biggest issues facing firefighters across the country.

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As we know, the economists and statisticians over the last decade have been presenting a different view of firefighting that has been embraced by a lot of jurisdictions across the country. The findings of the academics are often pushed forward by those who believe in smaller government and/or large reductions in the taxes we pay.

For some departments it has meant a reinvention into what this article by Leon Neyfakh in the Ideas section of The Boston Globe calls “all-purpose urban response squads”. Other departments have been able to mostly hold the line and continue in the roles defined by the long tradition of firefighting. But many of those are doing so with a lot fewer firefighters and resources.

Whether we like anything in this article or not, it is the reality of the 21st Century and a force that most departments have dealt with or are dealing with in some form or another. Being prepared to address all of these issues is a crucial role of labor leaders and the modern fire chief, whether career or volunteer.

But there are some things that this article and the statistics don’t seem to address. Whether a department handles one fire or 500 fires in a year there still needs to be a force of firefighters well trained and well equipped to handle the fire. That costs money and also requires a commitment of resources and time. In addition, there should be a moral obligation to provide for a reasonable level of resources to help ensure the safety of the firefighters you do have.

It’s a concept few citizens and politicians understand. Many elected officials are willing to roll the dice in this area of public safety because they know the public, for the most part, is just happy that a fire truck shows up and a warm body emerges. It only becomes a concern after a large or deadly fire occurs and news coverage shows the fire department was not equipped, staffed or trained to handle the emergency. Then everyone asks, “What happened?”.

I don’t want anyone to think that I believe fire departments and firefighters don’t need to evolve with the times. They do. But to me it isn’t evolution if the change means the basics of effectively fighting fires and saving lives are lost in the process. That’s just a giant step backwards as a society.

Here’s how Nyfalk’s article begins. I encourage you to read it in it’s entirety:

Is there such a thing as too many heroes?

Walking past a neighborhood fire station can be one of the most deeply reassuring experiences of city life—a reminder that there are people in our midst ready to pull on their helmets and stride into danger whenever and where something goes wrong.

But as a recent Globe story reported, city records show that major fires are becoming vanishingly rare. In 1975, there were 417 of them. Last year, there were 40. That’s a decline of more than 90 percent. A city that was once a tinderbox of wooden houses has become—thanks to better building codes, automatic sprinkler systems, and more careful behavior—a much less vulnerable place.

As this has happened, however, the number of professional firefighters in Boston has dropped only slightly, from around 1,600 in the 1980s to just over 1,400 today. The cost of running the department, meanwhile, has increased by almost $43 million over the past decade, and currently stands at $185 million, or around 7.5 percent of the city’s total budget.

The trend in Boston is part of a striking nationwide phenomenon. The number of career firefighters per capita in the United States is essentially unchanged since 1986, but of the roughly 30 million calls America’s fire departments responded to in 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, only about 1.4 million were fire-related—down by more than 50 percent since 1981, according to the National Fire Protection Association. And while the total number of calls being routed to fire departments is higher than it’s ever been, only 5 percent of them are fire related. Most had to do with medical emergencies like heart attacks and car accidents. As a popular economics blog put it, alongside a graph based on the statistics, “Firefighters don’t fight fires.”

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Fire21

    As Dennis Smith explained in his book “Report From Engine Company 82″…When someone calls for a cop, they might get a cop. When they call for an ambulance, they might get an ambulance. When they pull the alarm box handle, they know the firemen will show up.

    Today’s fire service has combined many of the functions of all three jobs, so that firefighters now regularly respond to anything and everything whenever anyone calls for help. Most departments now go to things that they didn’t used to. Since we are the “go to guys”, it behooves communities to maintain a viable, effective, efficient “fire” department. Yes, fire incidents are down in numbers, but everything else has increased. Readiness is needed everywhere.

  • Fire21

    One more thing: Firefighters, cops, and medics are someone that no-one needs until they are needed. Then we are expected to show up quickly and ready to save the day. It takes money and political support to maintain that readiness.

  • ukfbbuff

    Interesting article.

    Local service demands and national politics meet head on.

    While looking at Boston, if one needs to consider a re-structuring based on number of responses, how it would be done why and at what cost?

    While reading the “Smoke and Erros” article I was surprised about how little Mr. McChesney really knows about Today’s Fire Services when he compares it to the “Volunteer Fire Department of 100 plus years ago.

    I find his statement (a disconnected one):

    “Convincing voters-taxpayer they should pay for something available for free”.

    Since when has firefighting been “Free”? Seriously?

    We need; PPE, Fire Equipment and so on. “No bucks (locally, State or Federal Level) No Fire Department”. And the “Free Workers” or Properly Certified Volunteer Firefighters.

    Another statement is: “The Displacement of Volunteer fire companies by paid Union firemen is a comparatively recent development”


    How recent is he talking about?

    Usually a community evolved from a VFC to a Paid FD because the citizens wanted it.

    Eight USA communities organized fire departments prior to the US Civil War, during the 1850’s. Cincinnati and Indianapolis are two, off hand.

    But my take on the two articles, Boston Globe and Mr. McChesney’s is;

    Yes, large fires are down. Some communities should reassess their FD’s Mission statement, but…

    Let’s Not get in to what happened in FDNY in the 1960′-70’s “War Years”, where Robert McNamara’s infamous “Rand Corporation” went in and gutted the:

    “Second Section Companies”

    (remember Dennis Smith, in his book “The Report from Engine Company 82″ both Engines 82 and 85 responded from the same station. Engine 85 is only a memory now) as the fire activity increased and personnel and equipment went down and produced to Book:

    “Fire Deployment Analysis”

    In which Author Joe Flood, exposed their flawed results in his 2011 book “The Fires”, in which the Rand Corp, got down to using the response information of 11 Truck companies and 3 BC’s and “cooked the numbers” to justify their recommendations.

    Mr. McChesney, may have a few ideas about cost reductions in the fire service, but really, do we need to have him advocate communities replacing their paid fire departments with private contractors such as;

    Rural Metro or Wackenhut?

    Mr. McChesney works and lives in Evanston, Illinois. So what does he know of the fire problems in Los Angeles and San Francisco California or Austin, Texas or Indianapolis,Indiana
    where his employer:

    “Library of Economics and Liberty” gets its funding from the Liberty Foundation.

    Dare I mention, in this blog the National Political influence
    of the John Birch Society’s impact on Mr McChesney and his views, since it was formed in part by Mr. Fred Koch in Indianapolis.

    Way back in the early 1980’s when former USA President Ronald Reagan advocated private sectorization as means to “Cut Government spending” several private engineering firms jumped on the “Band wagon’.

    Here we are 30 years later and

    It’s a different year, century and the same old Anti-Union Worker sentiments abound.

    Sorry about the Politics Dave.

    • RJ in florida

      UK: your observations are right on. This subject comes up every so often about redundancy in public safety and back in the 70’s that manifested itself in the form of the public safety officer (that is) firefighters cross trained as cops and vice versa. it worked for a while in some communities and I even know a few but in my opinion when you ask too much of one service to provide another, delivery of service suffers and the quality does also…want to set a fire?….rob a bank

      that was one of the fears when EMS came into the fire service and as of today, some departments do run more ems than fire calls and that’s a burden some departments would love to give up. its a known cash drain and everybody knows it

      But whenever I hear about governments wanting to combine services to “streamline” costs I recall the debate a citizen brought up in a public forum about response times in comparison to other services and the pizza guys.

      The citizen wanted to know why cant the fire department run itself like the pizza industry or a business

      my chief gave a technical answer and concluded by asking the citizen “when your house catches fire or you have a heart attack can we get the same deal they get…30 minutes or the next one’s free?”

      bottom line, people who have the ability to flex numbers to fit into a point they are trying to make is easy. The problem is the unknown factors of emergency service

      I recall the bashing the chief of Oklahoma city took about the bombing from Connie Chung where she made it look like OK city FD was not prepared for the event. I felt sorry for him and would have asked her off camera, “that is a lousy outfit you’re wearing, why were you not better dressed to interview me?”

      the answer…we are an “EMERGENCY” service we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. all we can do is plan, train and hope we are up to the task…most of the time we are

  • FMCH

    In order to combat some of this, I , as my union’s PIO, have actively taken to Facebook to spread the word. I post all the incidents we respond to. My FD runs about 17K calls a year, and interestingly enough, we’ve responded to 40 working fires so far this year. So, we average about 1 working fire a week. I’ve also worked very hard to develop a good working relationship with our local media. This has paid off in spades. Whenever something happens, they call me before they call the county PIO. They’ve also given us plenty of air time over our countys plan to brown out and reduce staffing.

    • Brian Haggerty

      Good smart thinking on your part. In Israel, they general FEED THE PRESS rather then let them invent stories, mis information or just miss something completely. In their Police agency,a National force with local commands, the PIO office is close to the bosses office. They inform the public of major events or when they want their help or support. The USA has traditionally worked in reverse and holds back information or fails to include the press. The press tend to beat you up less during mistakes if they feel befriended by your agency.

  • north chief

    The focus on large fires is misplaced. The vast majority of fire deaths and injuries are in occupied dwellings. I am sure this writer has never been to a 3 decker fire in Boston in February. Tell those people on the third floor that we don’t need as many firefighters as we used to. That 3 decker fire today is no different than one in the 1930’s. It requires a lot of ladder throwing, multiple hoselines and ventilation. Nothing changed there. The sad fact is most people in Boston or any other city won’t even know thier fire department has been cut till something bad happens.

    • dave statter

      A very good point.

    • Mark too

      I agree with the point you are making, however, to say that the fire today is no different than the one in the 1930s is actually incorrect. The furnishing inside the 3 decker of today is very different from what was common back then. With the proliferation of synthetic materials in many of today’s goods, fires develop much faster as shown in various experiments comparing the impacts of modern furnishings vs legacy furnishings.

      You are correct that these fire require essentially the same things they needed in the 1930s, but the argument can certainly be made that the time frame to accomplish many of these tasks in order to achieve the same results as in the 1930s has been significantly shortened.

      Fires may be down overall, but another thing that these pencil pushers seem to always ignore or overlook when talking about redeployment and cuts to the fire department based on this reduction is that fires DO still happen and the manpower and equipment needed to effectively and efficiently combat them and rescue victims when they do occur is pretty much independent of how often they occur.

  • HenryRedson

    This video might be a perfect example of what the article is referring to. Six minutes into the video and no ambulances or fire trucks to be seen anywhere, but huge numbers of police are present.

    • Tree

      I would opine that the reason for what appears to be a large police presence vs fire or EMS is because by and large, police officers function as individual assets. There were likely police officers spread all along the parade route, at least near the finish line. When the explosions occurred, they congregated in the areas of concern.

      Fire and EMS generally function as teams, and require equipment not easily carried on one’s person to do so. Based on the radio traffic, it appears that EMS resources were staged outside the crowd area,and were inbound as soon as they were requested.

      When I work events, we try to keep the rigs where they will be able to move. Parking an ambulance near the finish line might have resulted in it being trapped by the crowds and unable to function as a transport vehicle.

      I did notice in the video that there were fire and EMS personnel on scene early in the event, even if there were no “BRT’s” or “bandaid boxes” immediately visible.

  • 19262007

    @ Ukfbbuff:
    Excellent post.
    I’d be willing to bet none of these academics have attended a fire ops class or have even walked into a fire station. I’d also be willing to bet they have no interest in attending a fire ops class or walking into a fire station. My question is, how come when crime goes down no one even THINKS of cutting the police department?

  • UseToBeDC

    I will read the article later but had to respond.

    There are two misconceptions about the fire service.

    1) The 1970’s were an ABERRATION if you compare fires to other decades and eliminate the 70’s then fires have remained essentially constant. Particularly in the northeast.

    2) The belief that we need high call numbers to justify our existence. So we do EMS and other things to “keep the numbers up” This is a losing concept as eventually the bean counters will come to the conclusion that paying two people on an ambulance is cheaper than 4 on a fire truck and replace one with the other.

    The fire department is an INSURANCE policy. One for which you may not get a return. We don’t purposely crash our car every few years just to get back the money we paid in insurance premiums.

    We must begin to fight both of these misconceptions before they grab hold too deeply. Take care all

  • Anonymous

    I like how outside people frequently see EMS calls as a one-for-one on transport unit vs. fire apparatus.

    Likes go down the steps from a standard 3rd floor garden apartment with a +250 pound chest pains pt (plus O2, monitor, and drug bag) with just two people on a medic unit.

    Replace fire apparatus with EMS units and where will the manpower come from? Dispatch 3 medic units on most EMS calls. The list of calls that need manpower is much longer than the ones that don’t. Put them in a chase car? A lot of little fires will get a lot bigger if we start responding back to the station to get the fire apparatus.

    Stats don’t tell the whole story.

    • john

      Chief Stapleton said every fire can be put out with a cup of water when it first starts and when it finally goes out.

  • Anonymous

    I’d like to see the number of fires Boston faced previous to the ‘War Years” of the 60’s and 70’s. It is probably the same or even less than what they are seeing now. I think it’s safe to say that they were grossly understaffed responding to 400 plus fires a year. Looking that time period where major fires “spiked” and then using those numbers to justify cutting resources today is a skewed way of compiling statistics.

  • 8truck

    Did they ever think that maybe the amount of major fires decreased is because of the fire department? Better training, response times, improved tactics, and the manpower to handle the emergencies. A room and contents no longer turns into a 4 alarm fire. Yes fires are decreasing overall but eventually the newer buildings will have failures and the war years will return. It’s only a matter of time and when it happens departments will need double the manpower they have now.

    • 95%er

      seriously doubt it. sorry. the war years are not coming back except in some very specific regions/locations (Detroit etc.)

  • Anonymous

    Also, studying the number of fires is not as important as studying dollar loss. Direct property damage from fire has remained relatively steady since the 80’s.

  • Roger Williams

    Over the past decade I’ve been blaming the Insurance Services Office for grading fire services on outdated models for fire suppression. My engine still carries a leather hose-burst jacket for ISO points, even though I have never used it at an actual scene in my 25 years of fighting fires. I try to concentrate my station’s training on events that we actually respond to. We still train on suppression, but focus more on the type of calls we respond to frequently.

  • 19262007

    @ukfbbuff and north chief:
    Excellent posts.
    I went through this video once, and using the pause button I counted I counted at least 4 BFD and 5 BEMS personnel on the scene within one minute. I took the time to read the back of their vests. Just because everyone is wearing blue doesn’t make them all cops, so what are you saying? I didn’t see any police cars on the scene either, does that mean the cops weren’t there?
    As for the article, I’d be willing to bet that none of these academics have been to a fire ops class or have even bothered to walk into a fire station. I’d also be willing to bet they have no interest in attending a fire ops class or actually going to a firehouse. I do have one question. How come when crime goes down no one even entertains the notion of cutting the police department?

  • Jim Spell

    I guess it would be OK to reduce the number of FFs if fighting fires is all we did. Car wrecks, rescues, water rescues, and medical, medical, medical. Maybe we should require the ambulance services to have a crew of four so FFs wouldn’t have to respond to medical calls.
    Then there are the politics. I understand a city (sorry, I forget the name) in Arizona requires just about every building to have a sprinkler system and have had very few major fires since enacting the law and no deaths.
    My former Chief in Montana got the county to require a new sub-division to put in sprinklers in all houses due to the area being far from any station or hydrant. Well, over time the developer and one of the county commissioners got the sprinkler requirement thrown out in favor of fire resistant walls. I guess forgetting that sofas and wood cabinets burn too.
    The district covers 250 square miles and is mostly volunteers. Good people but, it is often hard to get people in the middle of the work day to respond and fill sites are often miles away.
    Up ending efforts to make building safer sure don’t help the argument that we don’t need so many fireman.
    P.S. Anyone have any idea what happened to fire misting systems?

  • Northeast Jake

    I’m sure the recent events involving the Fire Chief leaving have brought the department under new scrutiny in the press. Careful what you wish for,once you inform the public to your internal issues,the media can start to “dig”.

  • Former Chief

    Great points by everyone here so far. I like how the “economists” and “intellectuals” sit behind their computer, look at numbers, and develope their hypothesis. Brilliant. And in addition to better building codes and construction, maybe they should also consider that well trained, well equipped, and well staffed fire departments are also the reason for a decrease in “major” fires. Yes, we definitely respond to fewer actual fires. And the fire service has adapted and taken on additional roles and responsibilities to serve the public. We also need to make sure the public understands that the fires we do have, burn faster and with more intensity than in the past for various reasons including light weight construction and synthetic furnishings. Which necessitates a rapid well staffed response. Are there things the fire service can do to improve? Sure there are, and any fire department worth their badge, should always be evaluating where they are and where they can go. I know of several instances in both the career and volunteer fire service where consolidation of departments, districts and services would lead to a more efficient entity without a reduction in staffing. As a matter of fact, combining budgets and disposing of unneeded infrastructure, would probably lead to increased staffing that was more appropriately deployed. I hope we continue to adequately explain the fire service. And I hope I never see the day where we’re referred to as Urban Response Squads. Because as every one knows and as has been stated already, for centuries, when you need help, you call the Fire Department.

  • firefighter Zero

    “The war on fire has largely been won”?!?!?!?
    I would not want to utter those sentiments at one of the numerous funerals for victims of a non-existent threat. Yeah, a row of very short caskets filled with children……Winning?
    Light weight multiple story construction, synthetic materials, flash-over in half the time, and reduced staffing and longer response times= no need for a “fire dept.”?

  • Jim Panknin

    These types of articles remind of the old saying, “Liars figure and figures lie.”

    Since when does the number of fires dictate how many fire fighters are needed? The reality is that the number of fire fighters needed are determined by the type of incident. In the case of fires; building construction, occupancy, fuel load, number of victims, exposures, etc. It doesn’t matter if there is one fire or 1,000 fires, the same number of personnel will be needed to safely, effectively, and efficiently contain each incident. The simple math (politically unadjusted) is that if the number of responders is reduced the incidents will last longer, get bigger, and cause more damage.

  • OldSutterOne

    So, in Boston we are talking about 7.5% of the budget for the FD. Exactly how much does the “City Administration” cost as express as a percentage of the budget? Is the City “over managed?”
    How about return for your taxpayer dollar? If you totally eliminated the BFD what would fire insurance cost in Boston? If the FD did not respond to EMS calls would a 2 person crew on ambulance have to be augmented and who whould pay for that?
    So what would Boston do with the savings? Give it back to the taxpayers? Really? Someone’s been smokin some real good *!x#.

  • IDLH

    Reading the article should cause a firefighter to pause. The larger fire are definitely down and multiple alarms are far and few between. The new norm is medical response and it is disappointing to hear fellow firefighters not wanting to challenge themselves with the intermediate or paramedic programs. With less fire based response, something to think about when your title says firefighter is staying power. The last time I checked, we have been increasing our firefighter medics to increase our staffing and not just adding another firefighter position to the rig.

  • Brian Haggerty

    As a 28 year Police veteran I support the fire departments staffing the way they are. Many of the departments in my area staff the engine and the Ambulance. All career members are EMT or Paramedic level. I can remember many calls where we don’t have the luxury of calling for more help on medicals or other calls. We use the ambulance(s) the engine /rescue and sometimes the police, all to work together to get the job done. That can mean on rare occasion ragging a line and connecting a hydrant in my police uniform. It can mean helping with getting patients out of car wrecks. It can mean all of us handling that heavy patient that coded down flights of stairs in those ( three deckers ) hard stair wells. It can mean helping clear adjoining structures while the FF’s attack the blaze and wait for the help to be called in off duty. As I see it, when something happens, we could sometimes use twice the on duty FD staffing. Sometimes the FD has very few fire calls and many Boo Boo bus calls. But I don’t care. I want those guys and galls from the FD on scene to help ASAP. They are worth every penny. And screw the safer new construction. Truss roofs, plastics etc. They burn faster and are more dangerous. You need more FF’s on scene faster because there is less time to save the occupants. Cutting fire fighters budgets is one of the dumbest arguments I have heard during my entire career.It comes around very often and makes less sense each time.

  • The52nd

    It would be nice if The Globe defined “major fire”, and gave us number of non-major fires. It’s disingenuous, bordering on a lie of omission to allow a scale on which to judge. In a city the size of Boston, with it’s population density, I’d wager that there are 1 or 2 fires each week that destroy belongings, and displace a family or two, yet are never reported in any of the media outlets.

    I know that just a week or two ago The Boston Globe ran an article highlighting which neighborhood fire houses run less calls, and advocated shutting down slower fire companies. That same week, the slower neighborhood of West Roxbury had two fires. Just goes to show you.

    • dave statter

      It is more lack of knowledge and curiousity on the part of the reporter than anything else.

      • FMCH

        Maybe the reporter should have contacted the department before writing the story. However, the article did what the writer intended. It’s generating feedback.

      • The52nd

        Is it, Dave? The reporter saw fit to track down the number of “major” fires, yet doesn’t explain what that is. So, is a major fire anything above a second? A third? Who’s to judge what is “Major”?

        Whatever the definition of “major” is, the source of the info requested probably is also the same source that could have (or did) provide info on the number of less than major fires. So, did the journalist just forget to report that number? Is it not important? Or is this a case of journalistic integrity gone missing?
        Considering that a) the source for the info was probably the FD, b) the term “major” is arbitrarily defined by the journalist, and c) the info probably provided the number of both non-“major” fire, and “major” fires, I’d say this is a case of journalistic integrity gone missing. Really, how would that article read, and what would the feelings of the citizens of Boston be if if it reported even a dozen more fires per year? One fire a week? Major or no, I’m sure the article wouldn’t have the same ring to it. The reality is that this is a propaganda piece, written by someone with an agenda, that deliberately steered away from the facts to make it look like there is less than one fire a week in Boston. I’m pretty damned sure there is probably 2 or 3 fires a week in that city.

        • dave statter

          I am not defending the reporter. I think the article, as I wrote, misses a lot of key points, including the ones you are making. But I don’t believe the reporter is part of someone’s political agenda and doing it for political purposes. They see what they believe is a good story and a theory that makes sense to them and they are being blind to other options or failed to ask the right questions of the right people. Some of my biggest mistakes as a reporter have come from going for what appears to be the easy and obvious answer.

          On the surface, when you don’t know the details and fail to really investigate all options, the theory sounds great. But in reality, it doesn’t hold water.

          This is why it is key for union leaders and fire chiefs to have a good working relationship with reporters. To be a consistent source of reliable information they can trust. I have seen too many in the fire service get pissed over what a reporter has written and then freeze that reporter out. Instead venting with emotion they should be helping to educate them. And the education should be ongoing and have started well before a crisis occurs. I have no idea if that has anything to do with this story, just talking in general.

          And remember there is a lot of turnover in the reporter ranks and a lot of rookies to educate. I saw someone write on a TV station’s website about this week’s anniversary of 9/11 that one of the planes “crash landed” in “Schwenskville, Pa.”

  • Slim Shady

    Just another example of a drive by media person who knows nothing about the fire service injecting his opinion, and everybody got one!

  • Joe

    Just like economists don’t predict recessions in time for investors to bail out and keep their money safe. Which economist saved Steven Spielberg from Jack Abramoff?

  • Fire?

    It’s quite ironic that while I was reading the article about firefighters not fighting fires anymore there is a 5 alarm fire in Queens spreading through 6 buildings. But we don’t have fires anymore. Every Fire Department goes to fires, some more than others.

  • Tim W

    The statistics in this article are very misleading, and the average Boston Globe reader is eating them right up based on the reader comments. By “major fire” they are referring to multiple alarm fires. They are not taking into account the average room and contents or single alarm fires that occur routinely and don’t become “major fires” because of the staffing levels and aggressive tactics. There are hundreds of those fires every year that are not being mentioned here. That’s the part that the average citizen does not understand. The article says that the city was “once a tinderbox of wooden houses”. It still is. It is one of the most densely packed cities in the country with a constant threat of conflagration. Just because fire numbers are lower than in the past doesn’t mean that you don’t still need the equipment, personnel and resources necessary to control them when they do happen.
    And as far as the article not being politically motivated, the Globe has a long history of being politically slanted and has notoriously been anti-firefighter’s union.

  • OverThere

    The fire service in the United Kingdom is driving the numbers of fires and motor vehicle accidents down with aggressive prevention campaigns. They are also implementing new staffing concepts and shifts. Google for ‘London fire safety plan’. You will be amazed.

  • puzzled

    Major is a relative term, depending on perspective.

    It’s not major until it happens to them. If my dog house was on fire, my dog would probably consider it major. If a run down old house burns and destroys everything,that a family has worked most of their lives accuiring, that would be major to them. You are uninjured in a crash, but your only means of transportation is totalled. You might consider that a major event.

    While stastically the number of fires are lower across the country, the replacement costs are many times higher. Again, to most, this would be major.

  • BH

    I want to preface my comments by re-affirming my belief in the mission and competence of the Boston Fire Department and their need for adequate staffing to combat fires in that old, wooden, congested city. I am very familiar with the challenges involved in firefighting there and support the men and women of BFD in making sure they have what they need to perform their primary mission.

    However. Lost in all this discussion is the fact that Boston EMS has been saving the lives of shooting and stabbing victims for 40 years without the involvement of Boston Fire.

    Lost in the discussion is the fact that the Boston Police Commissioner, the Chief of EMS, and the Boston Fire Commissioner all agree that fire apparatus responding to shooting and stabbings is unnecessary and superfluous, and that the bill was not requested by the Boston Fire Department.

    Lost in the discussion is the fact that the legislator proposing the bill is related to a Boston firefighter.

    Lost in the discussion is the tacit admission of the firefighters union that they don’t have enough run volume to justify their jobs.

    I can’t help but wonder…. did the proposed bill come before or after the Boston Globe article showing how slow some BFD stations and companies are?

    The union tried this once before, and failed- under far better economic conditions. I fear all they’ve done with this misguided, unconstitutional attempt at numbers grabbing is throw chum in the water that will merely excite the sharks.

    I wish 799 well. I don’t wish them to respond to EMS calls beyond the ones they go to already.

  • Snotty

    We are comparing fire stats with the worst period in American History back in the war years. Now we are having a more challenging period when you don’t know what will happen next and Firefighters are the vanguard of all hazard mitigation be it natural or manmade. We do not see a clammering for less Police in NYC because the murder rate went from 2,000 to 500 or other Cities who advertise impress crime reduction.

  • ukfbbuff

    A. Thanks to those who responded to my comment.

    B. “Overthere”

    I’ve been following the decimation of the Fire Services in the UK, Scotland and Wales over the past 10 years.

    “Billion of Pounds Squandered” …in phasing out Local Control Rooms (Dispatch Centers) for Regional one’s and the program is a sham, in 2013..FBU webite

    Fire Brigade Equipment: from PPE to Pumps and Aerial Equipment is owned by “Asset Co.” a private sector company that was on the verge of Bankruptcy last year. ..FBU website

    Changes in the work/duty schedule, proclaimed to help firefighters with children at home, has done the opposite effect.

    Layoffs of firefighters while the Chief Brigade Officers increase their take home pay…FBU website

    “Industrial Actions’-Strikes, name the Brigade here______FBU website.

    On on it goes under “Austerity” in the UK, Scotland and Wales Fire Services.

  • Snotty

    I can not believe we are having this conversation on 9/11- Have we forgotten how quickly things can change in a moment and how valuable firefighters are.

  • 6fthook

    Gone are the days of reporters basing a story on just the facts and leaving the reader to make their own determination as a result. Today we have opinion piece writers that look for specific stats or quotes to sustain their believes. In other words, they write the story backwards. Rather than first gathering the who, what, when, where, why and how of the piece they start with an opinion then gather the who, what, when where, why and how that supports their opinion.

    Its a perfect way to shape public opinion. They can substantiate their opinion based on facts presented knowing that few will ever look deeper. The mindless masses will unknowingly have their opinions formed for them. The writer also has an “out” if all facts are presented by simply stating that the piece was written based on facts available at the time. But in reality, they know they will never be questioned and their “journalist integrity” will remain intact because none of their opinion piece buddies will write a story refuting all the bullshit they spread.

    Sure we can write a letter to the editor which may or may not be published. But keep in mind, that will be edited for size, and content.

    The “fourth estate” is dead. Its now just an extension of whatever political party pays its bills.