“Fire Service Day”
THE JOURNAL OF THE FIRE PROTECTION PROFESSION SINCE 1B77
On May 4 last, the fire fighters of California celebrated “Fire Service Day”—a day officially set apart by the Governor of that State to honor its fire forces in all ranks, all communities. Furthermore, by act of the State Legislature, May 4 will henceforth continue to be known and so celebrated.
Fire Service Day is the idea of the enterprising head of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Chief Engineer William L. Miller. It was bom of his conviction that it was about time the fire service got a bit of favorable promotion of and for itself.
Chief Miller knows that firemen, generally, are devoted and dedicated to the saving of lives and property from fire to an extent probably common to no other peacetime agency.
But he knows, also, that in this hectic age not all of the public are conscious of this fact, particularly when it comes to supporting the fire service in its effort to maintain its forward progress.
He knows that too many of those who direct the destinies of our fire forces—politically at least—accept this dedicated service altogether too complacently, confidently assuming that it will continue unfailingly and indefinitely, regardless of budget starvation, public indifference, or other handicaps.
It is no secret that the man-on-the-street, as well as those responsible for administering our fire departments, have been drifting away from the fire service as a necessary municipal entity. The shift has been imperceptible, but it is nonetheless persistent as the physical, political and economic structures of our municipalities have changed over the years. Most chiefs will agree that it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain their fire departments at requisite efficiency levels in order to cope with the growing demands being made upon them as a result of the changing order of things. But they cannot agree on the best method of overcoming this handicap.
Chief Miller rightly concluded that the best way to stem the ebbing public interest in the fire service was to bring the public and the fire forces together on a common ground and friendly level so that Mr. Average Citizen and his family could have opportunity to observe and appreciate the organizational structure and facilities of his local fire department, and learn first hand how the latter serves him.
At the same time, the Chief saw that fire fighters themselves would benefit from a closer understanding of the individual citizen’s thinking and thereby make proper allowances for the latter’s apparent disinterest and failure to help fight the battles of the fire fighter.
Nothing particularly earth-shaking in this deduction. Many other chiefs had reached the same conclusion. But with Chief Miller, to reach a conclusion meant action. And he got it, not only from his own promotionally-conscious department, but from practically every California fire service organization, from the State Junior Chamber of Commerce and other interested groups. And further, as we have said, he got action not only at the top levels, but right up to Governor Goodwin J. Knight himself.
The “trial run” proved that Fire Service Day was, and is sound. It worked. And if it worked well in California, it should work equally well elsewhere.
Therefore, FIRE ENGINEERING strongly urges that Fire Service Day be made national in scope—a day when the fire stations of the nation become the meeting places of fire fighters and those who support them and whom they protect; a day when the littlest tot and veteran voter will be made conscious of the fire fighter, his job, his accomplishments and his needs and his fire department.
The story of Fire Service Day is told more in detail later on in this issue. The seed of the idea has been well planted; it has been nourished and borne fruit. We will watch with interest to see how it develops in the years to come.