Firefighting is one of the worlds most honored but hazardous occupations. It is the duty of every fire department to practice life safety, incident stabilization, and property conservation.
Whenever and wherever an emergency arises, the fire department is one of the first called and to respond. In todays fire service the fire department has an expanded roll that involves more than just fires. The emergencies involve accidents, aircraft crashes, water rescues, hazardous materials, civil disturbances, explosions, and medical emergencies. The list is never ending and always expanding. Firefighters are involved with all types of people and are appreciated by some and scorned by others. They are expected to calmly evaluate the problem and bring it to a successful conclusion. Firefighters are not extraordinary- they are ordinary people places in extraordinary situations. Bringing any emergency situation to a safe conclusion requires knowledge, ability, and skill. Because of this fire fighters need to be trained to a higher standard today than they did in years past.
Fire fighters enter into three categories: Career, Paid on call, or Volunteer. Career personnel are persons who are salaried. Paid-on-call firefighters receive reimbursement for each call they attend. Volunteer fire departments and their firefighters greatly outnumber career departments and their firefighters. Canandaigua Fire department is a hybrid between Career and Volunteer fire Fighters, and it has a very successful combination.
Today almost a quarter of the United States population live in rural communities. For many of these Americans, fire protection is inadequate. Suburban communities such as Canandaigua whose political institutions and community services have not kept pace with the rapid population, Commercial and industrial growth. Rural and suburban areas often have many problems: insufficient water supply, lack of codes, to few inspectors to enforce them, insufficient funds to pay and hire firefighters and replace equipment. Even with strong volunteer fire departments, such as Canandaigua, they still have a delay for manpower to the scene and during the workday have a shortage of firefighters.
According to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the fire fatality rate for Americans in non-metropolitan areas if half again as great as the rate for Americans in metropolitan areas. Even the best fire equipment, properly placed, cannot function with out well-trained firefighters. While Canandaigua Fire department receives excellent training and is held to high standards we are the exception not the rule.
There are other duties to firefighting that do not involve emergencies and that involve fire prevention and education. Deuel Richardson stated, A significant factor in contributing to the cause and spread of fire is human failure- failure to recognize hazards and take adequate preventive measures, failure to act intelligently at the outbreak of the fire, failure to take action which would limit damage.These failures can only be limited through education. Day in and day out firefighters out see the evidence of human failure. The prevention of fires due to human carelessness in not all that fire safety education can hope to accomplish. Many fires cased by faulty equipment rather than carelessness could be prevented if people were educated in how to recognize the hazards.
Now the overview of the inherently dangerous job of firefighting is a broad spectrum, but how do you measure success. What is a successful fire department? What makes it successful? And what can be changed to make a fire department more successful. These are all obligatory questions asked by many town and city council members, but how do you measure fire protection. When does a fire department become most important to you, when you call 911. Most people assume that when they call 911 that they will no matter what the time have the highest trained firefighters and paramedics show up to their emergency. Well in most cases that is not true. Sit and listen to the scanner and you will here calls go unanswered during the day and calls get repeated. In Canandaigua we have a luxury of having firefighter/ EMTs that are in house most shifts and at the beginning of the year every shift. But does that make us successful as a fire department?
Todays firefighter has to be better educated than yesterday. The fires and emergencies are different