The other day I challenged my battalion to think about methods or technology that would essentially change the way we do business in the future (like the Fire Grenade concept, as discussed by Jamie in his FireRescue1 article on November 18). Today we should consider that things the fire service did in the past may very well catch up to us as well. The case in point is this one, where private fire contractors are being paid by insurance companies to go in ahead of regular fire assets and secure homes endangered by wildland interface fires. As you can see in the article, insurance companies are taking measures to keep from having large losses by hiring their own crews, somewhat like insurance companies did over 200 years ago. While this measure is encountering a little controversy, the idea of the insurance companies realizing that public fire protection is understaffed and underequipped for fires of this magnitude and sending their own response is a very interesting one and something that could arguably be stretched into other venues as well. It would be all well and good for the public and the insurance agencies to work to help us meet our needs instead, but just as other industries have found out, if consumers are willing to spend extra to get "premium" service, there are people who will be happy to provide it (for a profit, of course). Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it makes you think.
Just because we do our job one way today means nothing tomorrow. Be prepared for change by educating yourself and opening your mind to other possibilities. You might be the person who comes up with a solution to a fire service problem and radically changes the way we operate in the future.