Monday, February 27, 2017

Why Does it Seem We Are always Knocking Our Heads Against the Wall?

Come on...if you've been a firefighter for a couple of years, you already know that this headline means. You've seen it, you've heard and most likely, you've dealt with it. And the same is true for every officer, from our lieutenants to our chiefs. We go from "hero-to-zero" in a single heartbeat. And why? Are we not doing this job that 99.9% love. Is this not the job/avocation that we dreamed of since we were little kids and perhaps was the job referenced in the quote, "If you find a job you love, you'll never have to work a day in your life?" Then why the hell is it so difficult? No, not difficult to do...difficult to be!

A major part of our work is fire education and prevention. Yet, there never seems to be enough money in the budget to hire more people to do this job and/or purchase the educational tools that will help us reach our audiences from age five to eighty five? And what is the goal of this fire education that we strive for? To reduce the number of fires and injuries to the people and property in our communities.

We just posted Episode 7 of our podcast, "5-Alarm Task Force," with Chief Tim Travers of the NFPA Sprinkler Initiative. (Find us on iTunes or at 5-Alarm Task Force)
Now we all know that sprinklers are not a new invention or method to suppress fires. As Chief Travers says they go back into some of the factories of the late 1800's. Most of us probably have one commercial property in our districts that is has sprinklers or at least, a standpipe system. And...I'll wager that quite a few of us have been called out to a sprinklered property, where the activation of one or two sprinkler heads mitigated the fire we faced on arrival. Then why the hell is it so hard to convince our municipal and state legislators to pass a bill requiring sprinklers to be installed in every new, 1-or-2 family residence! When you listen to what Chief Travers has to say, you will probably be as wide-eyed as I've been, to hear his experiences as he covers almost one-half of the U.S.

The key word is this discussion is, new construction. We are not asking for retrofitting every residential structure in the country! (Although we all know plenty of structures that could sure use a sprinkler retrofit!). The Initiative is the effort to require sprinklers in new construction. You need to hear some of the myths and downright falsehoods that are presented by those against this proposal. We require smoke detectors in every new residential structure. Chief Travers even has the numbers to show the difference in the number of lives lost before the smoke detector legislation and since. He also has the figures for the loss of human life caused by improper disposal of cigarettes and how, once proper legislation to require self-extinguishing cigarettes was passed, that number dropped!

Are you asking, "What can I do about it?" If are that's good! The first thing to do is learn the facts. Not from a book, not from a PDF file online; just sit back and listen to Chief Travers' interview on this podcast. I am very sure that almost every one of us believes that there is not enough human-power and money to really allow us to do as large a fire prevention and education program that we desire to. However, your help here only may cost you some time. Here's how:
1. Listen to Chief Travers and you'll learn a great deal about this program. 
2. Go to and learn some more ,especially if there is an Initiative committee in your state.  
3. Learn what you can do to help the Initiative if your state (like mine, Florida) has not passed the proper legislation. 
4. Fight back against the naysayers with facts.There are still 20 states that have either dropped the ball or haven't even tried to pick it up.

Remember, every time a new state passes the legislation and enforces it, there will be lives saved. And that is the business we're in; we save lives.

Listen and Learn!
Stay Safe!
Every one goes home!

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