Sunday, March 1, 2009

Current Events....Making the best choice in the worst of situations

As a student of the business, I try to stay current on the impact of the current economic situation on various departments across the country.
As a chief of department I am keenly aware of what situations face me within my own department. I cannot remember facing a budget preparation period like the one we are currently all facing. Many cities and towns in years past dealing with fire departments have often said "this is a bad year', it is not quite right to give any raises or add manpower. Now in these most difficult times, many of our members do not believe how bad it really is because of the old story about crying wolf.
Chiefs across the country are being forced to lay off personnel, close companies and close stations in some cases. The tension in firehouses begins to grow as firefighters who may be laid off, have also had a spouse laid off and are in real trouble. Morale struggles and suffers.
In the face of all of this is a fire chief who has a responsibility to answer the alarm in the new fiscal year with less troops and companies out of position and with longer response times. Fire chiefs in most if not all cases did not create the conditions that are currently affecting this nation. They do have the responsibility to deal with those same conditions.
Losing personnel and closing companies is horrible. Some communities have it much worse than others.
Chiefs of departments are now faced with trying to make the best choices in the worst of conditions.
It is truly the lesser of all evils.
The nations fire chiefs and firefighters are facing horrible difficult times.
I could not find a better group of people (The nations firefighters and chiefs) who will be prepared to face this challenge as they have all others.
The nations firefighters have taken an oath to serve and we will continue to persevere no matter how bad things get. We all must work together more than ever. As the times get tougher we must avoid the temptation to play the blame game and divide labor and management. It is what the politicians want us to do.
Chime in leave your thoughts. I am not sure anyone has the magic answer but today I think we need to share constructive ideas as a nation.
My answer would be that public safety should never be cut or reduced. While I believe this with all my heart as a fire chief and as a taxpayer in the community that I protect, I have now come to realize that the money is just not there. We (public safety) will have to face some cut or reduction. as a group we just need to figure out how to minimize that.
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