Many of you have heard this before. It will not be a surprise that yet another column has been written telling us that career firefighters are underworked and overpaid. This time it’s in a Toronto newspaper. But this writer picks on the very same issues we’ve seen from many others here in the U.S: the numbers of fires are down, pay and benefits are up, firefighters only work seven shifts a month and they get to sleep on the job. The only complaint we’ve heard more often than these is the usual bitching about your grocery store visits.
It’s easy to be defensive and to go on the attack against those saying these things about firefighters. But look at the comments section with Margaret Wente’s column. It isn’t just Wente’s opinion. As I write this, 460 people have voiced their thoughts, and my observation is the large majority seem to agree with Wente.
If you haven’t dealt with any of this in your community, at some point you probably will. Smart leaders, both in labor and management, should be working together and be proactive in trying to counteract the notion that firefighters are no longer providing a valuable service. Don’t wait until your local Margaret Wente goes on the attack. Every day you should find ways to help the community understand the realities of the job and the value of what firefighters provide.