I found this Article and boy was i shocked to find out what im doing wrong and how much im a intrest group




Smoke and Mirrors
Stop calling firefighters "heroes."
By Douglas Gantenbein
Posted Friday, Oct. 31, 2003, at 3:05 PM ET

A cush job, most of the time
When California Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger toured the state's catastrophic wildfires a few days ago, he uttered the phrase that now accompanies any blaze as surely as smoke: "The firefighters are the true heroes."

It's understandable why he said that. As fires go, the California blazes are scary. They are moving incredibly quickly through dried brush and chaparral that practically explode when they ignite, threatening the life of any firefighter nearby. Steven L. Rucker, a 38-year-old firefighter and paramedic for the town of Novato, was killed working to save houses. Elsewhere, thousands of firefighters have worked for hours on end in 95-degree heat, dressed in multiple layers of fire-resistant clothing, sometimes without enough food or water because of the long and shifting supply lines.

Given all that, it may seem churlish to suggest that firefighters might not deserve the lofty pedestal we so insistently place them on. We lionize them, regard them as unsullied by base motivations, see them as paragons of manliness (and very tough womanliness). They're easily our most-admired public servants, and in the public's eye probably outrank just about anyone except the most highly publicized war veterans. But the "hero" label is tossed around a little too often when the subject is firefighting. Here's why:


Firefighting is a cushy job. Firefighters may have the best work schedule in the United States—24 hours on, 48 hours off. And those 24 hours are usually not terribly onerous. While a few big-city fire stations may have four, five, six calls, or more during a shift, most aren't nearly that busy, giving firefighters time to give tours to school kids, barbecue hamburgers, wash fire engines, sleep, and pose for "The Firefighters of [Your City Here], 2004" calendars. Indeed, fire officials devote much of their time to figuring out how to cover up the fact they're not getting the hoses out very often. So we have firefighters doing ambulance work, firefighters doing search-and-rescue work, anything but Job No. 1. Meanwhile, the long days off give many firefighters a chance to start second careers. That makes it easy for them to retire after 20 years, take a pension, and start another profession. I've known firefighters who moonlighted as builders, photographers, and attorneys.

Firefighting isn't that dangerous. Of course there are hazards, and about 100 firefighters die each year. But firefighting doesn't make the Department of Labor's 2002 list of the 10 most dangerous jobs in America. Loggers top that one, followed by commercial fishermen in the No. 2 spot, and general-aviation commercial pilots (crop dusters and the like) at No. 3. Firefighting trails truck-driving (No. 10) in its risks. Pizza delivery drivers (No. 5) have more dangerous jobs than firefighters, statistically speaking. And fatalities, when they occur in firefighting, often are due to heart attacks and other lack-of-fitness problems, not fire. In those cases where firefighters die in a blaze, it's almost always because of some unbelievable screw-up in the command chain. It's been well-documented, for instance, that lousy communication was a huge reason why so many firefighters still were in the burning World Trade Center when it imploded, and well after city police and port authority police had been warned by their own commanders of an imminent collapse and cleared out.

Firefighters are adrenalin junkies. I did mountain rescue work for several years and more than once was praised as a "hero." Oh, give me a break. It was fun and exciting. Firefighting is even more of a rush. Sharon Waxman, in an excellent article in the Washington Post, interviewed firefighters in California. Every one was in a complete lather to get to the next hot spot. "It's almost a slugfest to get in there," one told Waxman. This urge to reach the fire is not entirely altruistic. It sure beats washing that damned fire truck again, for one thing. Plus a big fire is thrilling, plain and simple.

Firefighters have excellent propaganda skills. Firefighters play the hero card to its limit. Any time a big-city firefighter is killed on duty, that city will all but shut down a few days later while thousands of firefighters line the streets for a procession. In July 2001, I witnessed the tasteless spectacle of Washington state firefighters staging a massive public display to "honor" four young people killed in a forest fire (one absurd touch: hook-and-ladder rigs extended to form a huge arch over the entrance to the funeral hall). For the families of the four dead firefighters—three of whom were teens trying to make a few bucks for college—the parade, the solemn speeches, and the quasi-military trappings all were agony. "It's just the firefighters doing their thing," one bystander said to me later with a shrug.

Firefighters are just another interest group. Firefighters use their heroic trappings to play special interest politics brilliantly. It is a heavily unionized occupation. Nothing's wrong with that, but let's not assume they're always acting in anything but their own best interests. In Seattle not long ago a squabble broke out between police and firefighters when both were called to the scene of a capsized dinghy in a lake. The firefighters put a diver in the water, a police officer on the scene ordered him out to make way for a police team, and all hell broke loose (yes, the cops were at fault, too). The dispute wasn't over public safety, it was over who got the glory. New York firefighters, admittedly deep in grief over lost co-workers, exacerbated the challenge of body recovery operations after 9/11 by insisting on elaborate removal procedures for each firefighter uncovered, an insult to others who died there. Not long before that, in Boston, a special commission released a scathing report that detailed a 1,600-member fire department up to its bunker gear in racism, sexism, and homophobia. Since then the department has bitterly resisted reform efforts.

None of this is meant to dispute that firefighters are valuable to the communities in which they work. They are. But our society is packed with unheralded heroes—small-town physicians, teachers in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, people who work in dirty, dangerous jobs like coal-mining to support a family. A firefighter plunging into a burning house to retrieve a frightened, smoke-blinded child is a hero. But let's save the encomiums for when they are truly deserved, not when they just show up to do their job.

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Let' s not sweat this Bros! Morons come in all sizes and shapes. Most people who complain about us will change their tune when the shoes on the other foot. Giving this guy and credence just makes him hang around. Guys like him should be treated like a cold. A few beers and some rest and we will wake up one day and he will be gone!
From the secret list...

When we think of staffing and Firefighters who gave their lives (especially where staffing was a contributing factor) ...we remember Keokuk, Iowa. Saturday was the anniversary of the Line of Duty Deaths of Keokuk Assistant Fire Chief Dave McNally, 48, Firefighter Jason Bitting, 29, and Firefighter Nate Tuck, 39...all of whom were killed while attempting the rescue of three trapped kids-who also perished. These 3 Firefighters left eight kids of their own behind.

The Firefighters died when a flashover occurred while the 3 were doing their interior search. Staffing is a major issue in Keokuk, and that morning, 4 of the 5 on-duty firefighters arrived on scene and upon hearing the mother screaming that her children were trapped inside, they immediately went in after them. When "Mom" screams that her kids are inside...we go in. Here is an interview with Chief Mark Wessell of the Keokuk FD: http://www.firefighternation .com/profiles/blog/show?id =889755%3ABlogPost%3A205169
provided in the memory of Dave McNally, Jason Bitting and Nate Tuck.
Hey, folks:
You aren't going to believe this, but I did an interview with one Douglas Gantenbein! I was doing work with another website, contacted him and he agreed to do it.
When the article in Slate first appeared in 2003, I, like so many others, took this guy on. He maintained his composure and actually stated some compelling thoughts. He is no idiot. He is an accomplished author. He wrote "A Season of Fire". He sent me an autographed copy.
His timing is what sucked. He couldn't have picked a worse time to come out and to say what he did, but if you think about it, we have already discussed here on this website the over usage of the term "hero". It's when it comes from outside the circle that we are offended.
Let me know if you'd like to see the interview with Doug Gantenbein. It was a good one.
Spanner; thanks for posting the link to my interview with Chief Mark Wessel. I believe that his thoughts of that day are very important to "lessons learned". And the intro by Chief Billy G is golden.
Art
I would just like to say that unless you are, or have been a firefighter, you shouldn't downgrade us. Yes, we do do other things on the side, but at least we have the balls to do it. At least we care enough to do it. So untill you can honeslty say that you have put your life on the line to help someone, don't talk trash about us. This reply is to the writer of this article.

Ryan Everett
Cadet/Explorer
Delphi/Tri-Township Fire Department
I can not believe that someone would write this, he has no clue what he is talking about. I am not saying that we should be called heros but there is no reason to slam firefighters the way that he is. You know what I would love to do to him, since he thinks that our job is so easy and that all we do is sit around and get called heros, grab him throw him in a set of gear and give him the nozzle and point him towards the fire and tell him to put it out. Oh on top of that we will have a mother standing in the front yard screaming and crying that her kid is in the house still, but since it is such an easy job I guess that it wouldn't bother him at all and he would walk right in there and save the kid and put the frie out. I don't know why I wasted so much time over the last 11 years that I have been in the fire service going to countless hours of training when all I had to do is just show up to a fire then I could have instantly been a hero. I am going to write the same thing to this guy that wrote the article and see what he has to say. Man this makes me so mad.
hi Art, I don't think it was the fact that he said the term hero should not be used (for me anyway). What got me is the fact that he said the job is cushy, that we have to do medic work to fill the slag, that we simply wash trucks and give tours and maybe once in a while we put out a fire. I like to think we have less fires because we are doing our job with prevention. We spend time and money to educate the public. We go door to door to check smoke alarms, installing them for anyone who doesn't have one, or has an inoperable one. We discuss escape plans and meeting places. it works!
I guess it just bothers me that people actually can get their backs up about what we do. I applied for this job and was finally awarded a position, after a lot of hard work. I work hard, I'm passionate about what I do, I train hard to keep ahead of the curve. I do have down time, it's called Sunday. We have a great job, it's hard work and can be dangerous, but it's a great job. I don't think it can be helped that there are many people who do not love their jobs as much as we do. All I have to say to that is "Don't cry, apply." Do what you want in life and find something you enjoy and leave us to enjoy.

I'm sure this gentleman is a great writer, but from the sounds of that article only, he is a bitter and disgruntled tax payer, who isn't sure what he's paying for.

PS - the link was found in one of the secret list emails today. :)
I second the motion.
He could also be ENVIOUS...
And JEALOUS or
A combination of the two.
I think his interview will shed some light on it.
I will get it out, dust it off and post it in my blogs...
Today.
Art
Here's a commentary I wrote at the time when this article first came out in 2003 ...

http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?sectionId=46&a...
brad,
Excellent response. Well stated. one thing that most forgot to mention is that full-time or volunteer we are constantly training. renewing licenses learning the latest concepts on vehicle extrication as they get more complicated. new ways to restart a beating heart or stop a hemorage. alot of this training is unpaid as well as the original training. I did not get paid for my 6 mo of fire fighter 1/2 or my MFR or EMT-B. my pay was my twp paying for class. My family suffered 6 mo of me going to class twice a wk and some wknds and all the study time ON TOP of a full-time 40 hr wk job. let the editor put that much time in on his job UNPAID and see how he feels.
we know the general public opinion is opposite of this person and we should thank them for their support. Let this guy have a heart attack or car accident and see how fast he respects a firefighter/EMS person that day...
Stay safe out there.
Dave:
I remember it like it was yesterday.
You spoke for a million strong.
Well put and very diplomatic, under the circumstances.
Here is the interview that I did with him.
http://www.firefighternation.com/profiles/blog/show?id=889755%3ABlo...
Nicholas:
How did you happen upon this article?
Were you googling or had Gantenbein written something new?
Just curious.
Art

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