Entering the fire service in 1982 was an exciting time for me. What could be better for a single 21-year-old man? Boy, how times change! With the way the world is changing–downsizing, rightsizing–all this has taken a large toll on the fire service. It seems that the fire management thinks that the fire service now needs to justify its jobs. The multiplicity of the fire service may be getting out of our span of control. So many different roles must be played not only at a high level of effectiveness but in a split second. Now, many different decisions have to be made, and too few persons are left to do the tasks. These are some of the things that are making the job more difficult and stressful than ever. Haz mat, first responder, public assist, and rescue are just a few areas in which fire personnel are required to be experts. The chance that a firefighter will have to execute multiple highly skilled duties on the scene is 100 percent. The point is, all this is good, but let`s not get caught with our pants down. We are doing and going and concentrating on all these other tasks. What about the part that seems to be forgotten? Fighting fires! Are we ready? Are we prepared for what might happen today? Tonight? Is this part of our job fresh on our minds? Putting fires out should be our number-one priority. I`m afraid the day is coming when we will be so busy doing other things that we will forget to save something for the fire.
Barry E. Hughes
Shelby, North Carolina