Cost cutting is the issue, not fitness
Arthur J. Linton
Lakeville Permanent Firefighters Association
IAFF Local 3188
Lakeville (MA) Fire Department
This is my personal opinion as a 19-year paid professional in the fire service, currently a lieutenant and EMT.
About “Name Withheld” (Letters to the Editor, January 1997), my guess is this person is not a paid professional. If he/she were, [it would seem that] the problem we have with the Combat Challenge is that our employers are always looking for ways to cut costs–i.e., fail the test, you are out of here! Especially if you have seniority (maximum pay, maximum benefits). They say unfit–I say 90 percent plus of paid professional firefighters on the job are physically fit and that the so-called physical endurance testing is not necessary.
What it boils down to is the saved dollars and cents the cities and towns can show to the taxpayers. But to get all the information to the public, we need the media. The only way we can get them to report the complete story is to make news; therefore, through peaceful protest, we can show the taxpayers that this savings is at a cost of seasoned senior professionals. All the while, the dangerous practice of downsizing of the fire service goes on!
Now, I don`t have the full story on the incident in Kansas City, and “Name Withheld” simply noted the media attention-grabbing highlights. So I cannot defend or support my brothers/sisters in Kansas City, but I would ask them to reply to “Name Withheld” with their side of the story. We as professionals cannot and do not support violence as a means to an end.
“Name Withheld” needs to grow up–this job is the most dangerous job in the world relative to on-the-job injuries and loss of life. It is not about competition; it`s about prevention and life safety! It`s not important to me that we do the job within a set time limit; it`s that we do the job in time!