After bidding farewell to 2010 and all the struggles that the fire service endured, we look at 2011 with hope that things will begin to turn around and get better. Or maybe we just hope it doesn't get any worse.
Here are some things I hope will change in the coming 12 months:
Increased installation of residential fire sprinklers
No doubt about it, we have the technology to save thousands of lives each year from the ravages of fire, but we have faced numerous roadblocks along the way. Check your statistics on this one, but having working sprinkler systems saves lives and property. This saves the citizens you were sworn to protect and it can keep firefighters safer if they face smaller fires rather than larger ones.
No more layoffs, brownouts and station closures
We have all read numerous stories in recent months about fire stations being closed on a permanent or rotating basis. We have also read about civilian fire deaths that have occurred when the nearest fire station has been closed due to budgetary problems. We all want to save lives and property, but when given a large headstart, fires are tough to play "catch-up" with.
More thermal imaging cameras in the hands of firefighters
Once the fire service realized the uses of this technology, we started purchasing them in large numbers. Then the budgets got slashed, and we aren't seeing them out there as much as we should. Prices need to come down and fire departments need to come up with ways to make this a priority in the budgets.
Public fire safety education at the forefront
Way back in the 1973 publication, "America Burning," we touted the need for fire safety education. We have seen much improvement in this area, but when budgets have to get cut, this is one of the areas that always seems to take the brunt of it.
Better firefighter protection
With the economic problems, we are likely to see departments keeping turnout gear and SCBA just that little bit longer. Years ago, we rummaged through retired turnout gear for something that fits. Today's turnout gear has to do much more than "fit," and it has a shelf life. Seeing firefighters in torn and burned gear has got to stop.
This list is certainly not all-inclusive for the things I hope to see turn around in 2011, but it can be a pretty good start.