The Lesser of Two Evils Public Safety Dept. VS. Privatized Fire Dept.

We (firefighters) know that you just cannot beat a tried and true fire department. It is what works for our citizens. A fire department encompasses training, experience, knowledge, tradition, pride, ownership, bravery, determination, brotherhood, and is an all around well oiled machine.

However, none of that compares to the almighty dollar!

This day in age, the beancounters don’t care. All they care about is saving money by cutting fire department funding because they cannot equate our work to anything. Hell, even our Fire Chiefs help them by offering biased statistics that skew to the beancounters benefit.

The beancounters have turned to unconventional ways of replacing their fire departments with cheap and ineffective fire service. This after slashing fire departments to an all time low in relation to staffing, companies, stations, and everything else. Now they just get rid of us…

Public Safety Departments

Can one person do all of this? image from

The public safety department concept is ineffective and an unsafe money saving option that I just cannot wrap my head around. This is just too much responsibility for one person to do well.

Public safety departments are those which employ public safety officers who are police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. This system is not very popular or widely used in the States.

I say it is ineffective because there are too many “what ifs?”. Who does what? Firefighters rely on the understanding of the public that we are not armed and do not uphold the law in the same sense of a police department. We stay out of conflict and allow police officers to handle that business. Police officers and firefighters have their own skill sets and are masters of what they do. To throw up police, fire, and EMT certifications/training up in the air and expect someone to master them all is not fair or obtainable.

If indeed it were that easy, then I say City Managers should also do refuse collection and cut grass!

At the very least, be your own secretaries! Is that asking too much?

Look at Kalamazoo, Michigan…in 1982, they took 164 firefighters and 219 police officers and cross-trained them to end up with 383 public safety officers. Now they have cut their staffing to 243 public safety officers. What the hell is that all about?

My City is only a little bigger than Kalamazoo and we have 240 firefighters alone. Then again, our most recent past Fire Chief was 2nd in command in Kalamazoo. He was the hatchet man in Roanoke and cut our department as the City wanted it.

Michigan has many public safety departments. There are more localities thinking about going to the model now. They view it as a huge cost saving option. Who cares about service delivery! LET’S SAVE SOME MONEY!!!! YEAH!

Jackson, Michigan officials are trying to follow the leader of neighboring areas and hoping to create a public safety department. Read the articles linked below. Everything is about the money…nothing about service delivery. It is blatantly obvious that the officials in Jackson have no idea what we do, how we do it, and why we do it!

Let’s just say this…if it were such a great idea then everyone would be doing it!

The mindset of officials is unfortunate:

It reflects the changing nature of the fire profession, he said. Of the 94,000 calls for service, only 1,100 were fire related, Hadley said. Advances in fire prevention, technology and building codes reduces the amount of fires. Hadley respects firefighters and their profession, but it is changing.

“It’s a very expensive insurance policy,” he said. “You can’t continue to pay them to sit in the fire station 98 percent of the time.

Read the entire article here

More articles here:

Privatized Fire Service

I think you can pretty much some it up with the comment “You get what you pay for”.

Fire Departments don’t have a corporate CEO who gets richer when the employees are forced to do less with more, meet the minimum expectations, and offer the bare minimum of service.

While I have not worked for a private contracted fire service. I have worked for a private EMS agency in a system status management style of delivery…it sucked. It sucked because it was the bare minimum and while we raced from call to call to meet the needs of our customers, the corporate CEO was sitting back sipping mojitos in his mansion and didn’t give a shit about the customers!

That is where the biggest difference exists. We care. We understand. Our “customers” are our neighbors.

You get what you pay for.

We might cost more…but I assure you, we aren’t getting rich.

We are paid for our knowledge, our experience, our bravery, and our determination.

How many people do you know who would be willing to give up their life so that you might live….for $10 an hour…or even minimum wage? Not me…I would rather be a Wal Mart greeter! That can’t be nearly as stressful of a job…and it probably pays $10 an hour!

It is very disturbing that localities are willing to disband their fire department for a privately contracted fire service to save money but they aren’t willing to cut the budgets of other non-critical departments and programs.

If it has really gotten to the point of contracting your fire service, then trash pick-up, libraries, parks and recreation, lawn cutting, paving, and everything else should also be contracted services….and then they can contract out the person who made the decision in the first place!

What do you think?

I say you can keep both of them…neither are viable options!