What It Takes To Do the Job
“What does it take to be a firefighter?” is a question we are asked quite often. Most people have no idea what is involved in becoming a firefighter or what it takes to provide everything needed to do the job. Consider that firefighters (and all of their gear, equipment and trucks) must be ready to go at a moment’s notice - “24/7/365” - and it actually takes quite a lot to make that happen. Mostly, it takes a lot of training, equipment, time... and a lot of money. Here are some typical costs involved in getting a firefighter ready for a day on the job:
Station House BSL
Fire departments must continue learning new techniques and purchasing different equipment to manage emergencies in a world that changes almost daily, Everything from hybrid vehicles to deadly street drugs to acts of terrorism are the new dangers of modern firefighting that were unheard of not so long ago.
Breathing Protection: In order to work in superheated air and toxic gasses, special clothing isn’t enough. Without respiratory protection the firefighter will not survive. The air tank and mask that firefighters wear is a “Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus” or “SCBA” (not to be confused with SCUBA tanks!) that allows them to breathe in otherwise deadly environments. It is the single most important piece of equipment a firefighter uses, and each unit carries a price tag of about $5,000.00. These are also replaced about every 10 years.
Every emergency we respond to is different from the last, and the next. There is no such thing as a “routine” emergency. Our equipment sees a lot of rough use, and repairs and maintenance are expensive and seemingly never ending. Firefighters do what they can in-house, but most equipment repairs require specialized knowledge and tools, which of course, equals a hefty repair bill.
With five fire trucks and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tools and equipment, the costs involved in operating our fire department add up quickly. Yet, the finest fire truck and the best equipment money can buy is worth nothing without someone willing and able to use it anytime, anywhere, under any conditions, for anyone. For that task we need a firefighter, the one asset I hope you will agree is “priceless."