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Editor's Note
by Rick Markley, editor-in-chief

Say 'I do' to using fire trucks for things other than fires

Renting out fire trucks and crews may be one way to generate revenue and silence critics

By Rick Markley, FR1 Editor-in-chief

Last week's story of the New York town supervisor who took issue with two volunteer departments using a truck and crew to stage a marriage proposal is worth a closer look.

In short, volunteer firefighters rolled up to a business with lights and sirens and evacuated one business. Once outside, one employee found her boyfriend holding a "will you marry me" sign. The stunt had the blessing of both fire chiefs.

One out-going town supervisor raised a stink over it and drew the attention of local media. His concerns fell pretty much under whether it was a good use of municipal equipment, if the firefighters could have responded to a real emergency, and what would happen if they wrecked the truck.

It doesn't take long to put those concerns to bed, as many of our readers did in the story's comment section.

As volunteer firefighters, those participating were arguably more ready to respond from the proposal scene than from home. And the risk of crashing was no greater than during training or even refueling the trucks. At least one reader rightly pointed out that the stunt was a good chance to practice driving skills.

Then there's the murky waters of is this an appropriate use of public property? Never mind that the volunteers make little if any money — one could argue that the firefighters should not have special access to things like fire trucks for their personal use.

The supervisor pointed out that uses like carting Santa to a tree-lighting ceremony or escorting high school football teams is for the public good — not for the good of a privileged individual.

As a firefighter, I'm OK with volunteers having a perk or two. And I admire both fire chiefs for standing up to this criticism. But I can see how Joe Citizen would take exception to that perk.

So, let's flip the situation around.

What if fire departments made such private uses available to everyone — for a fee?

Want to make your kid's birthday or first day of school special, or surprise grandma and grandpa on their anniversary? Why not rent a fire truck and crew (Yes, I'm purposely avoiding the bachelorette party example.)?

It may sound ridiculous, but why not set up an availability schedule — like those for fire station tours — a list of safety rules, and a clear understanding of what happens if the tone drops during the event.

This is not a policy that can be enacted overnight. But with careful planning, it could provide fun for the community and much-needed cash for struggling fire departments — and be less gaudy than the advertisements painted on some rigs.

Had such a policy been in place in New York, maybe the firefighters could have chipped in to buy a town supervisor a special escort out of office.



Comments
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of FireRescue1.com or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
W John Kolasinski W John Kolasinski Monday, January 06, 2014 3:48:26 PM Maybe that's why this Town Supervisor was on the way out! Good Call to the Chiefs and the volunteers...sometimes it's important to support Life than some of the negativity we need to see regularly....God Bless & Stay Safe!
Gary Bridier Gary Bridier Monday, January 06, 2014 3:54:16 PM I agree 100%.
Steve Kady Steve Kady Monday, January 06, 2014 5:08:26 PM Much ado about nothing. Say good night Gracey
Jennifer Gordon Jennifer Gordon Tuesday, January 07, 2014 7:15:57 AM It was cute but it was wrong for them to evacuate the building an if their was a call the would have been mad I know people who uswd a firetruck for tgeir wedding theirs no shame in that
Michelle Morrow Michelle Morrow Tuesday, January 07, 2014 10:55:37 AM As a.volunteer firefighter in NY state, not far from where this occurred, I know for a fact that their response time would have FAR greater. They have a lot of traffic in that area and some roads are 4 lanes wide. As far as clearing.out the building I was a sub teacher when another local dept. Responded for a preplanned fire drill, where they searched the school for children- who with their parents' permission, were "hidden" for them to find. What's the difference. Also schools are required to have fire drills, businesses are not. This is also a training experience for the fire department to learn the layout of the business in the event of a "real" emergency. As far as using tax payers gas, I generally.respond to the scene in my personal vehicle- and I pay for THAT gas.
Carol Sink Worth Carol Sink Worth Tuesday, January 07, 2014 5:10:17 PM This is the same Fire Departments (no matter Volunteer or Paid) that Race to that call when they hear the alarm not knowing what is ahead of them. God Bless Them All for RISKING their LIVES for people they have never met or known! I know this as a mother having an amazing son doing this everyday and seeing my son since age 4 years old wanting to do this line of work. No words can express my feelings as seeing my "little 4 year old son" racing down our driveway (and me after him) when he heard those sirens. And, now at 24 years of age he is a Firefighter/Paramedic and I am so Proud of him. And yes, I worry every day. So now if I was the mother of the firefighter that took those trucks to propose to his girlfriend..... KUDOS to you MB!
Carol Sink Worth Carol Sink Worth Tuesday, January 07, 2014 5:10:51 PM Meant KB
Marty McKinney Marty McKinney Tuesday, January 07, 2014 10:04:49 PM My daughters wedding was out of my jurisdiction and the local volunteer FD brought out their new Engine for us to use in wedding photos which made the day for the groomsman as most of them were volunteer firefighters as my daughter is. This department does this as community PR and was more than happy to participate.

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