UnNews:Firefighters vote on whether or not they will fight fires
30 June 2009
ESSEX, England In a controversial move, Firefighters in Essex, England are today meeting to decide whether or not they will continue doing their jobs. The discussion comes as a result from feedback from the community who no longer believe the fire department contribute anything significant to their county. Within the past ten years nearly every family in Essex has come to own a ladder, a tool they are able to use to perform such jobs as rescuing cats from trees or other high and inconvenient places. Also most houses come equipped with an outside tap enabling easy access to water for hoses and buckets in case of a fire or plant watering events.
But it's not all down to the fact that these items have become more accessible to the everyday person, Bob Foskins, from the Essex Fire Authority claims that firemen are no longer viewed as they once were, "We used to provide the illusion of safety to all who called us. We would turn up with our big trucks and deliver our services as best as we could," He believes that due to the rise of incidents the public is becoming too familiar with them, "Once the public realise that we are just like them, they tend to lose their confidence in us and when that is gone there's no reason for us to be here." Many Essex based newspapers, such as The Echo have a Heroes section in which they celebrate the bravery of everyday citizens who have helped their community some how; more and more the entries are to do with small fires that get out of control or inspiring young teens to take up community services. Firefighters have recently heavily criticised papers such as The Echo because they feel as though they're rubbing it in their faces.
"It's a bit cheeky to be honest," David Johnson, who often reads The Echo over his breakfast of boiled eggs, "I mean they make it look like there's no one else. We should be on that double page spread, we're employed to do this job." Many of the firefighters in Essex have taken these recent actions by the public extremely personally going as far as to label them "vigilantes" and "miscreants". "I don't think they realise the effect this has on us," David continued, "This is our job, this means we get paid on a fires-per-shift basis. If I don't see to at least five incidents in a regular forty-eight hour shift then I struggle to feed my family, it's the same with all of us, the whole team has commitments." It seems that the public have forgotten that it is not just fires that the Firefighters have to attend to but also in some cases they are required for injuries. Due to the fact that most people believe that Ambulances can deal with every kind of accident, Firefighters are only informed of it at a much later time putting the life of the victim involved, as well as their own reputation, at risk.
It isn't just that they are less respected than before which is driving the Firemen away from their jobs, it seems they appear to have quite a negative perception of their work. "It almost seems like there's no point in us even going out on a job, especially if it's a fire," Paul Adams, a 27 year old recruit told us, "The thing is, although we always manage to extinguish the fire there is normally so much damage done that there was no point to us helping, the fire would've died out on it's own due to the lack of flammable objects around." So often do images of firemen also include destroyed property, wildlife or vehicles that it appears this perception, although rather depressing, is also quite true. "The thing is, if it's going to burn, it's going to burn. There's nothing we can do about that and people are so stubborn about leaving their houses nowadays once a fire breaks out, they fear that if the house collapses that they will fall into bankruptcy and debt while trying to survive and so often the prospect of dying in the fire looks better than surviving it."
Although it may come as a shock to those people who support Firefighters and their charities, firemen are becoming less and less popular. Whereas once upon a time all every little boy wanted to do was have a go on a fireman's hose, inspired by Fireman Sam and the like, it seems that now all they wish to do is fight crime and posses superpowers. It is unsure whether the government can overrule any decision made by the firefighters or further disbanding of Firefighter Squads, however it is clear that this abandoning of an emergency service will cause ripples throughout the country.
- News "Fire services to vote over action" BBC News, June 30, 2009