A retired Washington, DC fire fighter is speaking out on the fire department’s rebranding efforts.
Pat Walsh, who worked for the fire department for 26-years, sent these comments to the IAFF Frontline Blog.
“While on the face of it, the current controversy over DCFD vs. FEMS, would seem to be a trivial thing, it is really a sign of a number of underlying factors.
“First, the fire chief is trying to force members to go backwards to a work shift that had been in existence for many years but the majority of current active members have never served under this schedule. The fire chief is asking for an increase of approximately 10-16 hours weekly work hours with no increase in compensation – at least none that I know of.
“While some might be of the opinion that the old work shift offered more consistency in contact between members of each company -- thus allowing for more frequent training and practice -- it also requires more weekly hours and more trips to and from work. Since the old shift was discontinued, and residency rules have become more worker friendly, due primarily to urban and nearby suburban housing price increases and the increase in fuel prices, members now live farther from the City. Thus, the new shift would require more work hours and many more trips to and from work, which eats into annual income and requires more miles of driving. And with the work load ever increasing, this could lead to impaired driving conditions when returning home.
“Secondly, while the DCFD/FEMS ballyhoo is of much more minor import, DC fire fighters have always prided themselves on being the best of the best. Contrary to what some think and often say, PRIDE DOES get the job done in extremely tough situations, when money, fame, thinking twice and going through the required motions all come up short. Just ask a Marine or other service men and women who have been in combat. In my day, DC fire fighters staffed all of the EMS units in the department. But for most of us, fire fighting was our first love. Today's situation requires that both functions be performed with an ever-increasing workload. So there may be other solutions to this situation that have not been considered -- solutions that take into account the pride, history and tradition of a very proud group of fire fighters, not to mention the EMS members of the department who also have a great deal of pride in their own right.
“Thirdly, as in most controversies like these, politics always plays a large part in the motivating force that makes such decisions, leading to ridiculous actions by many, such as forcing a person to remove an overcoat in near freezing weather or suspending motivated and skilled personnel who otherwise perform in stellar fashion. Just take a look at many of the old war movies, based on actual cases, that show how these kinds of actions based on principle often actually deter or prevent personnel from performing at their best.
This too shall pass as soon as level heads sit and talk with each other with the best interest of ALL involved, including those who reside in and visit the Nation's Capital, at heart.