Whenever you come across a scene of distress or accident, firefighters are the first ones on the scene. They put out fires, help in rescues, act as temporary medical staff and do whatever the job needs them to. They don’t complain, they don’t whine. Whenever there is a problem, they always work tirelessly to solve it. Is it any wonder that the populace sees them as heroes?
Why are firefighters important?
Firefighters are important because they fulfill essential duties that no other department does. The police department is solely concerned with matters of law. The medical department deals with health and injuries.
On the other hand, firefighters do several jobs that are not done by other emergency services. In fact, at times their work may even overlap with the police or medical department. Some essential services that they do are:
They work on all kinds of fire outbreaks: Putting out the fire is the primary work of firefighters. It doesn’t matter what kind of fire it is. Firefighters will put it out. And they don’t just scramble to do it. They are trained to tackle it in a professional way that ensures the safety of the public as well as their own.
They investigate the cause of the fire: After a fire is put out, the responsibility to find out the cause also falls on their shoulders. In case the reason is arson their work overlaps with the Police Department. In such cases, they often assist them by providing preliminary reports and assessments.
Firefighters rescue people: The primary responsibility of rescue falls to the firefighters. Whether it is rescuing people from burning buildings or a non-functional elevator, they’re the first ones to respond.
They act as EMTs: Rescue efforts also mean dealing with injured people. Nowadays almost every firefighter has basic training as an emergency medical trainee. This ensures that in case of injuries, quick medical attention is afforded to the people.
Firefighters enforce safety rules: Firefighters not only work to put out fires but also prevent them in the first place. They help implement building safety standards as per the local rules. This ensures the safety of the building as well as other buildings near it.
They educate the community: During their downtime, the fire department is actively educating the public. This is done through school visits and holding community events. This way, fires are prevented before they even start.
What risk do firefighters face?
Firefighting is a challenging and dangerous job. Firefighters are at constant risk of burns, mental problems, heat exhaustion. They can also face problems due to coming into contact with hazardous materials such as carbon monoxide. Firefighters are at risk of the following to name a few:
Cancer due to AFFF foam: AFFF or aqueous film-forming foam is the concentrate mixed with water to extinguish flames. They’ve been widely used by firefighters since the 1970s. As per the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), AFFF contains carcinogenic toxins. This has led to health problems in many firefighters and has recently become a topic of discussion (rightly so). People can file an AFFF lawsuit to get the rightful claim. These lawsuits are finally bringing light to an important issue. The authorities are forced to take some concrete and immediate action on it.
Heat : Long-term exposure to high temperatures due to fires can lead to heat injuries and burns. It can also lead to rhabdomyolysis which is the breakdown of muscle due to exposure to intense temperatures.
Building Collapse: During rescue operations, firefighters are in a precarious state. The risk of the building falling on them is always present. It is infact one of the leading causes of death.
Why more needs to be done for firefighters?
Firefighters fulfill a crucial role in our society. The work done by them cannot be done by anyone else. They put their lives at risk for the safety of the public. Not only that, they are continuously dealing with hazardous situations and chemicals.
Firefighters work tirelessly and often can go on for days to put out fires without any complaints. Thus, it is a no-brainer that authorities need to do more for firefighters. Despite their multitude of abilities and flexibility, they are often not compensated very well. In fact, in several places, they are paid less than the police.
While the public has a rather high opinion of firefighters, more needs to be done for their welfare. Due to their unique role in the community, they are indispensable. After years of service risking their lives to save people, it is only right that authorities take care of them adequately.
Firefighters are the jack of all trade in public service. Whatever the problem may be, they can be counted on to solve it. Loved by the public and adorned by children, they’re often hailed as the heroes of society. They’re often rated as the public department with the highest favourability among the people. And yet despite their on-ground success, they largely remain underground when it comes to personnel betterment. Hence, authorities need to step up and do more to take care of the heroes of the community.