HEADLINE: Johnson City to Explore Adding Volunteer Firefighters http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20091116/NEWS01/911160345/1112/Johnson-City-to-explore-adding-volunteer-firefighters
Is it just me or are two worlds colliding here?
At the same time many volunteer fire departments struggle to maintain their ranks, their career counterparts are being stripped to the bone in both manpower and operating budget by their community’s and our country’s fiscal crisis.
This is not the first article I’ve read recently with a recurring theme — career fire departments reverting (or in some cases, converting for the first time) to combination departments.
We have many communities in our county, currently supported by all-volunteer fire departments, where a part or full time staffed career fire department would be simply unaffordable. They would have to go without fire protection if it weren’t for the dedication of their volunteers.
Unfortunately, it seems that several communities with pre-existing career fire departments are coming to the same realization: fire protection is a much needed but costly service to maintain properly.
What’s the solution? I’m not sure but I have some ideas.
I do know that it will take a lot of creativity, imagination, and willingness to adapt to overcome the staffing challenges that virtually every community faces — regardless if emergency services are provided by volunteer or paid personnel. The need for employing the “3 Cs” has probably never been greater: Coordination, Communication and Cooperation.
I’ve said before that there are only two types of fire departments today: Those who have a staffing shortage — and those who are about to.
The only remaining question is: Whaddayou gonna do about it?
Let me know how I can help.
PS – Did you ever notice that you never read headlines threatening to lay off, furlow or have rolling blackouts of garbagemen, administrators, parks and recreation workers, etc.? What’s wrong with this picture?
I have nothing against any of these people as they provide a very important service as well. And some would argue that garbage pickup affects public health – and I can agree to a certain extent – but why is it that the first thing they try to slash and burn is public safety?
Furthermore, why is it that many volunteer fire departments have to beg, borrow and essentially steal to underwrite the cost of their operations instead of being adequately supported by the communities they serve – despite already providing their labor for free?
When was the last time the police department held a bake sale to put another police car or officer on the street? Has the highway department ever had to hold a chicken barbeque to get a plow repaired?
Some days I just don’t get it. I guess this is one of those days.