POYET SPRINGS, Calif. — A mayor has sparked outrage by proposing the city's fire department drop the name "firefighter" to describe members, claiming the term "fighter" has negative connotations.
Mayor Shirley U. Jest says there are a number of more politically correct terms that would better reflect the role of fire department members in the 21st century.
She says changing the term would attract different types of people into the fire service.
"I first thought of the idea after reading how some people refer to the fire service as being '100 years of tradition unimpeded by progress.'"
"I know that this could be controversial — and that some people may criticize me for not concentrating on things like budget issues here – but this is something that's troubled me for a while."
When pressed on alternatives for a new term, Mayor Jest suggested "fire-dousers," "flame-reducers," or even "EMS specialists" would better fit the bill and would be readily accepted by the members of the city fire department.
Another benefit, she said, is the name change could mean the fire department moves away from the "A-type" personalities it typically attracts.
"There's plenty of other letters in the alphabet, so why are fire departments always filled with the same personality-types?" Mayor Jest said.
"I actually prefer to avoid appointing A-types to my office. They can be a little loud and too action-oriented. With the quieter types, it allows me to sit in my office and come up with ideas to make this city better without being bothered with annoyances like inadequate staffing and equipment."
Mayor Jest said she hopes the name change could come into effect by April 1, 2012.