By Charles Bausman
Several articles in recent years have attacked the purpose and costs of fire departments in our cities. The basis of the argument is that with improved structural building standards, materials, and fire suppression systems, the number of fires has been significantly reduced. While fire calls have been drastically reduced nationwide, fire departments have seen a significant increase in EMS responsibilities and call outs. How has this affected the culture, morale, and relevancy of firefighters?
From 2004 to 2013, the nationwide structural fire incidences decreased by 21%. As of 2007, the total percentage of fire calls was 8.2%. In the same year, 55.2% of fire department call outs were classified as “EMS and Rescue”, making up the vast majority of firefighter employment.
As the majority of departments across the country increasingly handle Emergency Medical Services in their respective district, town, or city, it would appear that the job description of the firefighter has shifted to meet the requirements of the population they support.
A survey of the National Testing Network’s firefighter jobs posted in the last thirty days provides a snapshot of what fire departments are looking for in new recruits. 70% of the jobs posted required either an Emergency Medical Technician (Basic) or a Paramedic certification.
We’re curious as to the implications of increasing EMS calls on the fire department culture. Intuitively, we would assume that most firefighters (or those seeking firefighter employment) want to focus on the fighting fires. How has EMS effected firefighters and recruits as they enter a profession whose title may be misleading. We wanted to hear your thoughts on this so we conducted a survey within the MTI Community. Click on the link below to learn more.
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