Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Forward to Yesteryear or Back to the Future?

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.
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3 comments:

  1. Some fantastic advice! Let's not forget that this is how Rural Metro got started and in tight times local governments are always looking for cheaper ways to do business. It all comes full circle at some point, doesn't it?

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  2. Several questions come to mind?
    If the insurance companies can afford to pay private fire companies, then why don't they take that same money and put it into fire prevention, such as fire resistant building materials, defoilage of brush or even a spray system that activates when the ambient temperature hits 400 degrees plus.
    My concern is that crews will go in compliments of the insurance company and they will not be properly trained or will be properly trained, but will take added risk because they are paid to reduce loss and they will die because they didn't bail when they should have.
    It sounds as if the insurance companies are responding to the local jurisdictions refusals to better manage their forests, allow for cutting back the tree population and letting the US Forest Service do what they are paid to do.
    I am wary.

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  3. I'm really not sure where I sit on the issue; I'm troubled by the fact that we can't seem to get support for prevention issues and issues like requiring residential sprinklers, but the rich can get their own fire protection. However, I'm keeping an open mind in that these people have found a unique way to address large-loss fires.

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