Opinion » Letters

There are many jobs more dangerous than firefighting

San Luis Obispo

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I would like to respond to the misinformed letters that have been published regarding firemen wages and dangers. I realize when it is a family member of a fireman (“Put yourself in a firefighter’s shoes,” March 10), the remarks are going to be based on their emotional attachment to that person.

To clarify, I am in no way attacking or minimizing the work they do. Yes, a fireman’s job can be dangerous, but I could not find facts to support our local firefighters being at anything above minimal risk.

Nationwide in 2009, there were 90 firefighters killed overall, with 47 of them being volunteers, 15 if them while driving to or back from the scene, and 10 during training (from US Fire Adm/FEMA). Considering the number of paid and volunteer fire fighters in the United States, the fatality figures are very low.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2009 shows firefighters with 29 fatalities and law enforcement with 108. In studies for the most dangerous jobs in the United States, firefighters are not in the top 10, with law enforcement at the fourth most dangerous job.

According to the San Luis Obispo Fire Department’s statistics for 2007, they responded to 4,356 calls that year. Of those, 63 percent were for EMS calls for medical problems. Only four percent were for structure fires.

The point of this information is that in this area, it would be more cost efficient to have more paramedics respond without the expensive-to-own-and-operate large fire trucks sent out. And are the salaries and benefits in line for the actual work performed? There are many volunteer firemen who do the same type of work.

The San Luis Obispo County Grand Jury report for 2007/2008 has an extensive report on the fire department that can be accessed online or at the library.

Now let the passionate responses commence.

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