Letters to the Editor: January 2020

Wishful Thinking from Paul Combs
Paul Combs/Drawn by Fire
Generational Change in the Fire Service

I am writing from a Generation Y perspective. My generation is highly scrutinized for being undermotivated and too advantaged, and spending too much time on technology. The fire service, however, has changed and is changing. We need to put to good use my generation, which can help create a better fire service geared for the future.

Kids born since the 1990s grew up with color television, computers, cell phones, and accessible Internet. Newer fire service members are surrounded with the stigma of being lazy, unmotivated, and always having their heads glued to a screen. Many older generational firefighters are very set in their ways. It’s time not only to embrace but also to take advantage of the current technology and generation of firefighters.

This generation knows how to effectively operate Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and Twitter. Social media consumes today’s society. We know that any teenager will be able to answer any question about or fix any problem you may have with your cell phone. We need to harness this underused potential to our advantage.

The volunteer fire service is struggling with volunteer firefighter and EMS recruitment. We should use these platforms to recruit the next generation of the volunteer fire and EMS services.

Since social media can be both beneficial and detrimental, the current generation can guide the newer generation in how to use social media to alert the public to potential and current emergent situations. This combination of senior emergency personnel’s experience with what is appropriate and this generation’s knowledge on how to use the social platforms is a prime example of how merging the old with the new can better the fire service. The newer generation has the ability to communicate with anyone in the world in a matter of a few seconds. Harnessing the communication abilities of my generation is key to developing a fire service equipped for the future.

Another great way to use my generation is for online educational platforms for learning. Many of my generation want to volunteer but can’t commit to the number of training hours required to volunteer. Why can’t we develop online classes that can teach the students exactly what is taught in the classroom and then have them attend “labs” for their practical skills learning?

We need to find a happy medium for the fire and EMS services to survive.

Jonathan Dayton, NREMT
Cumberland, Maryland

“Walking the talk” on sprinklers

Reference is made to “What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander” (Editor’s Opinion, October 2019). Thanks to Chief Bobby Halton for saying what needed to be said. We haven’t been “walking the talk,” and our opponents are taking full advantage. Until we begin promoting sprinklers in our own houses and facilities, we will continue to struggle in our message to get others to do so.

Jim Tidwell
Tidwell Code Consulting
Chief (Ret.)
Fort Worth, Texas

I would like to suggest that instead of attempting to further involve federal legislators on who qualifies for particular programs based on taxpayer-funded programs, all fire service members use and distribute the abundant amount of information about residential fire sprinklers from the National Fire Protection Association, the Fire Sprinkler Initiative, the Home Fire Sprinkler Coalition, the National Fire Sprinkler Association, the Phoenix Society, Common Voices, the International Code Council, and the United States Fire Administration. Also available are the resources of 31 state-based Fire Sprinkler Coalitions as well as the reports out of Scottsdale, Arizona.

Efforts put toward the inclusion of residential fire sprinkler requirements in local building codes will go much further than any broad-based federal initiative. The successes of the city of Scottsdale and the states of California and Maryland need to be publicized throughout every local legislative level in the United States that debates residential building code adoption. With the inclusion of residential fire sprinklers in all types of construction, lives will be saved, property damages will be greatly reduced, and the fire service efforts will fall in line with Life Safety Initiative #15 of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Paul Eichler

Chairman, Delaware Fire Sprinkler Coalition & DVFA Sprinkler Committee
Battalion Chief, Anne Arundel County (MD) Fire Department
Firefighter IV, Dover (DE) Fire Department

Paul Combs Drawn by Fire.

Drawn by Fire/Paul Combs

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