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Career fire departments must be funded by each state

Fires destroy not just properties, but lives. In our society, where physical appearance is more often than not a premium, fires also disfigure futures. Once initiated, it is often hard to stop; it was referred to as “perpetual motion” in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Given their nature, every state must have a career fire department in order to effectively combat fires. A fire doubles every 30 to 60 seconds. If not responded to in the quickest time possible, it could result in an increase of 850% deaths, 270% injuries, and 700% damage to properties.

Fires are also known to start quickly and spread rapidly during heat waves (AP), forcing the affected to leave their homes and relocate somewhere safer. Wildfires due to the dry season and drought has cost the country billions of dollars (LiveScience), as well as destroyed farmland, obliterated personal properties of the affected citizens, and lives. This is a serious issue today for many communities. Most states rely on volunteer fire fighters. However, since budgets are short, so is the availability of volunteers that are needed to staff them.

Many suburban and rural departments are having a difficult time retaining trained fire fighters; because of time commitments, job changes causing them to move and cost of living within the community where they live. Therefore, these people must be given fixed salary, just like any other employee. If every state funds a career fire department, losses during the fire season can be kept to a minimum. Since career fire departments have an average response time of four minutes, this will greatly help in conquering fires, and decrease the number of dead and injured people, as well as damaged properties.

Since these are professional fire fighters, they are able to focus on the task at hand. Staying in the firehouse also lessens the time needed for these fire fighters to prepare for the fire. Since they are employees, they are able to take shifts, which will lessen the occurrence of suffering from overexposure to fire and smoke, as well as over-exhaustion. Career fire departments are also more advantageous than volunteers, since members of the career fire departments are less likely to be killed or hurt.

This may be due to the fact that volunteers are numerous, compared to the other type, as there are 800,000 volunteer fire fighters nationwide and 300,000 career fire fighters nationwide. However, 53% of fire fighter deaths occur on paid on-call departments vs. 32% of career fire fighters. If more of these volunteers become career fire fighters, deaths will occur less. With career fire department members, they will be able to stay for long periods in the community, since the cost of living is not such a problem, as compared to volunteers.

Aside from growing roots, these employees are able to benefit from the training they will get in the long run. And since they are not transient, younger members will be able to benefit from the camaraderie and experience they have gained. It may be argued that some states settle for volunteers instead of funding proper career fire departments, since volunteer fire departments do not have a large payroll, unlike career fire departments. This way, equipment are maintained, and it is known that some volunteer departments have the best and new equipment.

This may seem like a good trade-off; however, this would seem that equipment are more important than people, such that some states are willing to spend more for equipment than for their own people. This may be interpreted as a state’s attitude towards its constituents. Fires are quenched not only due to the damage it will inflict upon property, but also because of the deaths and injuries it will cause. If states let themselves be cornered into thinking that there is not enough budget for career fire departments, why fight fire, which is really a force of nature to reckon with, in the first place?

Instead of focusing on the lack of budget, the state must focus on how to allocate the budget, such that there is enough for a career fire department. A state must analyze its own priorities, and it must not only focus on the state’s commercial relevance; it must also study how its own constituents can live successful and happy lives, not encumbered by worries, such as when the next fire season is coming, since they know they have a career fire department that is working 24 hours and seven days a week for them.

Sometimes, fires are unavoidable. No matter how much one prepares, or how conscientious one is, all it takes is some dry brush and a spark. Sometimes, the odds are stacked up against you: dry winds, dry season, drought, no rain clouds in sight. When a fire starts, there is nothing one can do but stop it and hope for the best. And having a career fire department on your side is one of the best things a state can do.

The effort a state puts in a career fire department will pay off when the next fire season comes in, and less damage is done. References LiveScience staff. (2004). Billion Dollar Disasters: A Chronology of U. S. Events. LiveScience. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from http://www. livescience. com/environment/disaster_chronology_1980_2004. html Associated Press. (2007). Wildfires rage amid heat wave in western United States. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved May 14, 2008, from http://www. iht. com/articles/2007/07/08/news/heat. php

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