New Day in the Firehouse

13 Sep 2018 8:44 PM | AIMHI Admin (Administrator)

Source Article | Article & Comments Courtesy of Matt Zavadsky

The author and those he interviewed do a very good job sharing insight into the roles and challenges of the fire service of today… And tomorrow….

A New Day in the Firehouse

The job of firefighter has change almost beyond recognition, It’s not easy to do – or recruit those necessary to do it.

BY DANIEL C. VOCK | SEPTEMBER 2018

The job of a firefighter isn’t what it used to be. Take Charlottesville, Va., for example, where in just the past 18 months the fire departments in the city and surrounding Albemarle County have searched the wreckage of a plane crash in a hard-to-reach wooded area, performed water rescues after spring floods, responded to the derailment of a passenger train carrying Republican members of Congress and, most memorably, provided medical assistance during white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, including one incident that left three people dead last summer. This was all in addition to dealing with downed power lines, an ammonia leak, frozen pipes and yes, even a few fires.

The workload of fire departments has grown substantially, even as their core mission -- putting out fires -- has dwindled.

“Communities tend to lean on the fire service in times of crisis,” says Charlottesville Fire Chief Andrew Baxter. “People are looking to the fire service for leadership and partnership for all aspects of emergency response.”

But that ever-evolving mission has brought new strains. It requires training and planning for new dangers such as civil disturbances or active shooters. With increased call volumes, it requires more personnel at a time when a growing number of agencies are finding it difficult to recruit both career and volunteer firefighters, and to diversify their workforces to include more women and minorities. And it comes as some cash-strapped cities are questioning whether the old system of responding to larger call volumes by deploying more firefighters with bigger equipment at more fire stations is sustainable anymore. 

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