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.

Views: 535

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

Didn't we discuss this ad nauseum in another forum and site many years ago? I must be having a bad flashback. But I guess that's the beauty of the internet; post some unbelievably inflammatory article and you too can get called out in perpetuity.

I didn't join the job to get the props; this is the "family business" and I got in because I knew it, I enjoyed it, and because it was the thing to do. I knew a long time ago that people only think you're a hero for as long as their memory will permit, which these days seems like a shorter and shorter cycle after each disaster. People will continue to do stupid things and we'll continue pulling them out of situations. On occasion, we'll get to save someone who simply had the misfortune of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and we'll pull off something heroic. But yes, I love this job and I wouldn't do anything else and if this guy wants to earn his living trashing people who enjoy doing good for others, well, he isn't worth my time or energy.

Be better than he is and don't get worked up over it. Sell your product to your community by treating the taxpayers right, act professionally, give a little extra every day you show up on a rig, and keep the honor in being part of the brother/sisterhood. This article was written four years ago and you know what? It hasn't affected my job one bit since. THAT's significance.
rant away spanner....nicely written.
You know I havent been in a fire in a long, long time, but I have been avolunteer firefighter, an EMT-B both paid and volunteer, and now I am a COP. I volunteer with my counties rescue squad. Whether you are fire, ems, or le really dosnt matter, we are all underpaid. The biggest thing that the idiot who wrote that pile of trash missed is anyone who puts their life on the line is a hero in some capacity. God Bless those we have lost LODD. This isnt just a job for me, nor most of the people I know who work emergency services. It is character and life defining. It is not just what we do IT IS WHO WE ARE. It is not a career it is a lifestyle. We choose to put ourselves on the line so that others might live. God Bless each of you who walks the way of emergency services and carry you home safe at the end of each shift.
I have to agree with you Brandon. I wanna see him fill 20 or 30 air tanks in less then 5 minutes, or carry 10 2.5 inch hoses, in full gear, running. Then he can say this stuff
Yea...thats true...all he needs is some gear and hose and a fire...then he'll shut up.
Great rebuttle Chief!
You won't find many Firefighters calling themselves "Hero's" in fact when they are called hero's the most common response is "I'm just doing my job" . But let's not compare apples to oranges. Pizza delivery drivers don't deliver their pizza's with people with Hepititis,HIV, Tuberculosis, cough/cold and every strain of flu. I work for a very busy department and sleep is a luxury. But anyone who has ever spent the night at a firehouse can tell you that you don't really get any rest, even if you don't turn a wheel. I call it sleeping with one ear open. Don't get me wrong, I would rather go into a burning building than spend the day with droves of 8th graders. But working 9 months a year and taking the summer off dosen't sound like a bad schedule. And I guess anyone that ever tries to get better pay and benifits is just being greedy. I'll leave the contest for the "who's the biggest hero" for other people who have never found themself a little disoriented,in a room that's hotter than hell wondering if they might not make out of this one. ( a lot like crop dusters).
Trying to get better pay or benefits is being greedy? Keeping up with inflation and making sure the membership is taken care of is greedy? Sorry, I don't see the logic there, you must have a current contract! lol We've been struggling and fighting for better pay and benefits for years, almost 5 to be exact, we are very far behind other smaller (much smaller) cities all around us and even farther behind the other big cities close to us. Looking for a cost of living increase and benefits that allow you to relax now and then or get your kids teeth fixed, is not greedy, it's necessary. Sorry... sore point right now. ;)

As for the hero thing... I just wanted to add that it's really funny that we do our job and we do say, "well, it's our job", when police and ems around us are being nominated for awards for doing their jobs. We've had a couple of incidents recently where they were nominated for awards that made no sense. In one case ems was being nominated for holding a backboard... lol... of course the award was for pulling someone from a burning car, but they didn't do it, they held the backboard... the second is an officer who did cpr. They have defibs, they are expected to do cpr if first on scene. lol... all I can do is shake my head. Put your heads down and do your jobs. No one gets an award for teaching a kid to do math!! (to stay on the teacher topic).

PS - disclaimer... no offense meant to ems or police... I have great respect for both, but their media reps are making them look pretty silly with these nominations.
[quote]PS - disclaimer... no offense meant to ems or police... I have great respect for both, but their media reps are making them look pretty silly with these nominations.[end of quote]
Their media reps are keeping the public tuned into what's going on. That's something that fire departments struggle with, unless it's a large scale operation and even then, you have the other agencies elbowing each other out of the way for camera time.
BUT IT'S NECESSARY. If we humbly and quietly go about our business and don't take the opportunities to beat our drum, then who gets the scrutiny the next time there's budget cuts? When grant money is being handed out, are you going to quietly watch as the more vocal and visible departments gets their's? How do you change the public's perception of your department after you have made great strides in improving service and YOU HAVEN'T TOLD THEM?
Sorry, but I'm one guy who believes that face time with the media is important. A pain in the ass, but important. I don't like root canals either, but it will save the tooth.
Think about it.
I do not look for accolades as a VOLUNTEER firefighter. I am on 24/7. We receive no pay. Out training is paid for, but it costs me time from work and family. When asked why we do it, most search for the words that only our souls could answer. There will always be those that demeen what we love. They are free to do so, as that is what makes our country great. This article will not keep me from answering that next bell
Reminds me of a guy I once worked for. He told me:

If you don't blow your own horn, someone will come along and fill it full of sh**."


FireRescue Magazine

Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2020   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service