I have been posting a fair amount about CopBlock lately. Pointing out some of their rhetoric as being false or twisting facts to an extreme. However don’t forget Fire and EMS are also being pulled under the public perception microscope.
Dave Statter (from Statter911) posted this morning about an incident in California. A woman confronted a fire chief about him buying cookies for on-duty firefighters. Yes, a complaint about tax money being spent on cookies.
Firefighters had been on the scene of a building fire for seven hours. City policy was for the department to buy food for fire crews when on a fire scene for anything over four hours. The chief was getting what where I am from we often call the “box lunch”. Turkey sandwich, chips, drink, and cookie.
The normal food, sandwich and chips she found expectable after the policy explanation. However, $20 for thirty cookies in her mind was crossing the line in the policy. A meal is one thing, but a “treat” is something else.
Folks we have entered a new age of accountability. Police have been experiencing it for some time. For our brothers in Fire and EMS, like it or not, you are riding our coattails.
Just last week here in Wisconsin a Fire department went to referendum for a new firehouse to be built. With 70% of the population voting NO, it was a clear sign to the fire department support is waning. The initial proposal was for a $2 million dollar department. Members of the agency started adding on unnecessary extra “wish list” options pushing the proposal up to almost $8 million.
That department did not sell the community on the need for everything. People started asking why they needed a new burn tower when there was a local multijurisdictional training center they could use for free close by? Why build on land designated a historic zone requiring the structure be all brick when they could build on other land for cheaper? Why build a two-story building, thus requiring an elevator when it could be designed to all be on one floor?
We once could say we are spending money for “public safety” and it was accepted. Today people are better informed and are likely to as “Why”. So we need to be ready to answer “why” with more than “it is our policy” or “we need it to keep the city safe”.
I wish I know what the magic answer to this issue was. It is clear the scrutiny public safety will be under will not be going away.