For a change of pace, today I am going to be talking about fire fighting, as many people actually know very very little about it. I’ve had a few comments on it in the past, and a recent request, so here we go.
First ‘fire men’ vs ‘fire fighter’ all my readers know I hate feminism, and maybe this was some inroad feminism made, but I have always called us ‘fire fighters’ and to me hearing ‘fireman’ is actually a bit weird, it is rarely used.
What we do: we respond to ‘calls’ – which are typically 911 calls that go through a dispatch center, and a routed to us if we are the ones who would handle it. 911 does NOT go to us, it typically goes to the police, who then page us out.
Working with others: Many people do not realize, but generally there are three different ‘branches’ of emergency response, there is fire -us-, medical, and police. In some, the medical is merged with one or the other. That does not mean we are not medically trained, we actually are, but the ambulance is completely separate and paged out as well. Depending, State Patrol is also deployed, they are separate from police, and generally the ‘highest’ authority on a call.
Fighting fires: Despite the title, we do very little of this. A majority of our calls are medical, someone with a heart problem, trouble breathing etc. All paid fire fighters are EMTs, and a lot of Volunteer fire fighters are as well.
Volunteer: MOST departments are either full or part volunteer, it is pretty insane actually, something like 80% of fire fighters are volunteer. Generally only big cities are pure 100% paid.
Interaction with other agencies: As mentioned above, there are different groups on a call, in general this can be a major problem as each has its own goals. For example, fire is concerned with the car accident and being safe, state patrol or the police are concerned with keeping the roads open – conflicting goals.
Two types: There are two major different fire fighters, some do both, but there is a huge gulf. These are ‘structure’ vs ‘wildland’; structure guys are the typical big city guys who stay at a station and respond to medical and building fires, wildland generally are seasonal, and deploy during the summer across the west or south to combat wilderness fires.
Ranks: There is a really weird way ranks work. On paper its easy, everyone is the bottom ‘fire fighter’ and there is a ‘Lieutenant’ who is the leader of them, and a ‘Captain’ who is superior to the Lieutenant. Generally, this composes a squad, shift, or specialty, the group, the Lt, and the Ct. Usually there is about 3 of these, above them is 1-2 Chiefs who ‘command’ the fire house. In reality there is a huge amount of ‘time’ served, meaning you can know your shit, but if you are the new guy you get picked on endlessly. Its pretty stupid.
Corrupt: Fire Fighting is surprisingly corrupt, police are supposedly just as bad, but its really bad here. There is next to zero meritocracy in this. It is nearly 100% nepotism or politically correct bullshit. Brothers, friends, cousins will get the job far before anyone with real skills. I’ve seen tons of times years experience and certs lose to some 19 year old kid of a Captain.
Corrupt pt2: Feminism has infected this pretty bad. When applying for jobs, it is generally on a 100 pt scale, people get +5 points for the following: female, colored, or past military. Therefore a black female from the army is nearly the ‘perfect’ candidate. You see this sometimes when there is someone speaking from a big department, and it is almost always some black female captain, there for political reasons, not her own skills. The
Chiefs: These are the leaders, and typically have a lot of time in. On paper they are supposed to run everything, in reality they are just useless and collect huge paychecks. Everyone looks up to them with the undeserved awe because a lot of fire fighters are the type that LOVE rank and their thought pattern is ‘higher rank = better person’. Often, since they can write the rules, they do things like exempt themselves from requirements like their EMT license or their physical tests each year. This happens nearly everywhere, and its surprising to find a chief actually in any sort of shape.
The public looks up to us, as we ‘save’ them compared to tickets etc, but a dark reality is there is a lot of politics that are insanely hard to surmount. Once you get in, you rarely leave, its the same thing that infects nearly all public sector jobs. The longer you been in, the less you do, and the harder it is to get you out.
I am happy I do it, but the corruption is extremely draining, and it is something no one knows about unless you see it first hand. It only takes one job loss to a son or a black female to really snap reality into focus.
I’ll try to answer any questions.