Several years ago, I ran across this article, and I have always taken offense by the assertions there. In it, he makes some claims that I would like to refute:
1 He claims we have cushy jobs, inpart because of our “easy” 24 on and 48 off schedule. If you add those hours up, you will find out that those hours equal a 56 hour workweek, and we don’t get overtime at 40 hours like most jobs. We work every day of the year, including holidays. Unlike most jobs, we don’t get weekends, Christmas, New Years, Easter, or any other holiday off.
He also claims that most firefighters run less than 5 calls per day. He is dead wrong, unless he is including rural, volunteer departments in that calculations. I have run as many as 26 calls in a shift before. Sure, there are slow days, but don’t we all have slow days at work? In my last two work days, I ran 3 structure fires (a total of 10 hours), one car fire, one fatal auto accident (we were there for 6 hours- assisting with the investigation), two heart attacks, one dead child (who collapsed playing basketball), one child with meningitis, 2 women experiencing a cardiac event, one diabetic emergency, one man in CHF, and 4 more medical emergencies. Plus, vehicle and equipment maintenance, and a minimum of 3 hours of training per day. Busy enough for you? Sure, we run fewer than 4 fires a day, but fires are less than 20% of our call load. EMS is getting us more and more calls every year.
2 He claims that firefighting isn’t dangerous, because the number of deaths has fallen. I can tell you this- I have had to attend the funerals of 8 firefighters that I know, killed in the line of duty. 2 in a fire, 2 struck by cars, 3 heart attacks, and one by cancer (caused by an on the job exposure). Nearly every firefighter that I know with more than 10 years on the job has been injured in the line of duty. It will happen if you work long enough. The only reason the number of deaths has fallen, is because we have worked hard to make it happen, and we are finally getting the safer building codes we have asked for. We still deal with hepatitis, HIV, and other communicable diseases every day.
3 He claims Firefighters are adrenaline junkies. I will give him that one. So what? All that means is that we like our jobs. Does that take anything away from what we do?
4 Then he goes on to complain that we have large funerals when firefighters are killed in the line of duty. “It’s just the firefighters doing their thing,” he complains. Can you believe that anyone would be so callous? I have never read or heard about a firefighter funeral that will shut a city down for a few days, it is more like a few hours. Big turnouts, pageantry and long processions are a tradition in the fire service. The funeral ceremony is not a propaganda scheme, it is a close knit community saying goodbye to one of their own.
He then continues his tirade by complaining that we as a profession are a selfish interest group.
A search of this author’s work finds him slamming realtors as well. He appears to have a hard on for firefighters. Maybe one slept with his wife, or could it be that left wing journalists hate men in male-type jobs. Not metrosexual enough for them. Everything they write is tied into the Agenda.