Equipment—Neglected Side of a Triangle

Equipment—Neglected Side of a Triangle

The Editor’s Opinion Page

Now play away, men. They’ll never make a better machine than this!

We are all aware of the fire triangle, oxygen, fuel and heat. Take away any leg of this equilateral triangle and you have no fire.

However, there is another triangle in the fire service which not only incorporates the fire triangle but transcends it. Let’s call this one the fire fighting triangle of water (or other extinguishing agent), men and equipment. This triangle is also equilateral; take away any leg and you have no fire department.

Water we must have, and we go to extremes to get it, even to carrying it to a fire in tankers. Men we must also have to go to the fire and fight it. And even though the number of men is shrinking, they still manage to get there.

But when it comes to equipment, the story changes. It seems that once the persons who support the fire service provide men and water, they feel that the job is 99 percent complete.

Some village fathers, who wouldn’t be caught dead in a 1960 sedan, just can’t seem to see anything wrong in firemen responding to fires in a 1942 pumper, or using hose that is 25 years old. And this attitude prevails toward the whole catalog of fire fighting equipment.

Unfortunately the fire service itself shares part of the blame for this attitude. Anyone who has been around awhile can recall at least one chief who pointed to his 1933 something-or-other and proudly stated, “It’s as good as new.”

Maybe his rig was as good as new. But it was new1933 and not new-1966. And if the art hasn’t advanced in 33 years, then maybe we should go back to the leather buckets; museums still have some that are as good as new. Or to the muscle-powered rig pictured at the top of this page—museums have them, too.

Perhaps we exaggerate in going back to 1933 for our example. But we exaggerate in degree only.

New and better equipment of all kinds has been coming off the line for the past 20 years. High-expansion foam, improved masks, better communications, elevating platforms, powered aerials, and super pumpers come quickly to mind, and there are many others.

The fire chief who doesn’t avail himself of such better equipment is operating in low gear. Admittedly he has a tough job—always—in prying money out of city fathers who think 1942 rigs look as good as new.

But perhaps he can start by explaining that the fire fighting triangle consists of men, water, and equipment. Take away one leg and you have no fire department.

There is no such thing as a two-legged triangle!

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