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Community Focus
by Tom Kiurski

How to improve the image of today's firefighter

We are the reason for the whole economic downturn or at least the politicians want citizens to think so

By Tom Kiurski

For those of us who were in the fire service on September 11, 2001, we can all remember the events of how we lost 343 of our brother firefighters in New York City.

The public loved us and thanked us for what we did and what we represent. They hugged us and made us thank-you cards.

They brought us dinner at the fire station, dropped off treats and had ceremonies celebrating those brave men and women who work in our profession.

How things have changed in 10 short years. We are the reason for the whole economic downturn — or at least the politicians want citizens to think so.

There have been instances where fire trucks have been hit by eggs, been flipped off and have had to endure numerous harsh remarks about our compensation and benefit packages.

We used to be greeted with kind words at the grocery store. Now all we hope to do is finish our shopping without a confrontation.
This is the time for the fire service to do what it does best, and that is to focus on providing quality services and not to expect thanks in return.

Many of us have, or will be, asking the voters to approve a millage to maintain services. The backlash of any retaliation by firefighters isn't worth the risk.

The fire service has certainly changed in the past few years. It appears we have more changes ahead, and the fire service we entered may not closely resemble the one we will depart from.

But just as our predecessors have done with long hours and shifts, and little concern over our own safety, we must stay the course.

Keep doing blood pressure checks for residents, continue visiting the schools with safety messages for children and don't stop hosting open house events.

Focus on safety messages in your newspapers and websites for your citizens to learn from. The future of the fire service depends on it.

About the author

Tom Kiurski has been in the fire service since 1981. He is the Training Coordinator and Director of Fire Safety Education for Livonia, Mich., Fire & Rescue. He has served as a firefighter/paramedic, engineer and lieutenant prior to his appointment as the training coordinator. He has earned an Associates Degree in Fire Science from Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn, Mich., a Bachelors Degree in Fire and Safety Engineering Technology from the University of Cincinnati and a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Michigan University. Tom teaches fire service-related courses at local colleges and fire academies. He has presented at the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis seven times, as well as numerous state and local conferences. He has written more than 300 articles on fire safety education and training that have appeared in various fire service publications. Contact Tom at Tom.Kiurski@firerescue1.com.



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