Fiscal Responsibility or Irresponsible Behavior?
The concept of operating at a blaze with a handful of personnel is foreign to many firefighters, both career and volunteer. But during these hard times, more and more city administrators are looking toward the public safety sector to make cuts in order to make ends meet. To them, getting several apparatus to the fire is what the public expects, despite the fact that many of the rigs are staffed with 2 and 1 man companies.
You heard it right, a driver and partner to make up the supply line, advance the attack line, make forcible entry, and attempt rescues until the 2nd due company rolls in with additional help. Hopefully, the “2nd due” company, staffed by yet another 2 man crew, will arrive quickly. It’s a procedure that troubles firefighters and union officials, and when it tragically hits home, the citizen public will be in an uproar.
What we're seeing is a risky trend, because city administrators are placing the public and firefighters at risk. The mere suggestion that 5 or 6 firemen can mitigate a working house fire shows a total ignorance of firefighting tactics and a blatant disregard for personal safety.
"We need to reduce staffing and be fiscally responsible." one mayor said. If there is a significant fire he added, "...we'll use neighboring volunteer departments for mutual aid." However, most volunteer chiefs acknowledge that their own staffing is way down, and what resources they do have are dedicated to protecting their local alarm district.
Like the Ohio fire chief said, check the batteries in your smoke detector, because we won't be able to come in and get you.