Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I knew that already

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) performed a study on fire responses, and drew some astounding conclusions: four person crews do the job faster than three person crews . . . and a lot faster than two person crews. They also deduced that quick response times were good because the fire was smaller when the crew arrived.

I think I already knew that. We've responded with two and three and four, and sometimes even five, six and seven firefighters. Ask anyone from the Upsala crew and you'll get a unanimous opinion that more sooner is always better than less later. Like the quote that is erroneously attributed to Nathan Forrest, the Confederate General who supposedly stated that the key to success was to "git thar fustest with the mostest men."

But NIST didn't ask me first, and they obviously didn't read General Forrest. It's probably just as well. The folks with the money already know what I think, and they don't believe me. Maybe they'll believe the gurus at NIST. Come to think of it, the problem isn't believing, it's acting. The politicians (even if they read the report) will say, "Wow. More is better. Faster is better. Cool. Now lets get on with important business, and pass that bill to raise our salaries."

If you want more edumication on these matters, click
here and here for NIST, and here for General "Git Thar Fustest" Forrest.

The problem is we continue to respond, with whatever crew we can muster, so the folks with the money continue to ignore us without fear of repercussions. It isn't like volunteer firefighters will ever go on strike . . . and if they did, people would shrug and say, "What's the big deal? Nothing is burning, we don't need them right now anyway . . ."

Gillies Fire Department tried it once, actually. They were frustrated that Council wouldn't replace their 1972 pumper . . . which happened to be their front-line vehicle. Drastic problems generate drastic solutions, and they all turned their pagers in together at Town Hall in protest. I wasn't there, but I suspect that indifference reigned right up to the moment the (former) chief asked dispatch for a page test. Then all hell broke loose in Town Hall.

"OMG the pagers are going off! We have no fire department! What are we going to do?! Those @#$%! boneheads . . . it was only a test" (collapse on the floor and mutter ugly things about volunteer firefighters).

Gillies Fire Department still has a 1972 pumper as their front line vehicle. Some day when I'm King . . .

On a completely unrelated topic, there was a large, wet bear print at the base of my porch steps this morning. Sasha, my fierce, pint-sized, mini cockapoo guard dog, still hasn't forgiven me for refusing to let her track him down and turn him into bear burgers. I deplore violence, and would prefer to negotiate a peaceful solution (something along the lines of "go away bear, so I don't have to put a bullet in your head). Tis the season to keep your garbage locked away tightly.

The weather gremlins are apparently on the meteorological campaign trail in their bid to rule the world. Warm summer temperatures now accompany the lack of rain. So far we've managed to jump on every wildland fire fast enough to prevent an all-out forest fire war. We've mastered the "git thar fuster" part, but we still need help on getting "the mostest men." We responded to the last one with three firefighters . . . hmmm, seems like I read a report about four is better than three. Perhaps it's time to make that coalition with the Gremlin Party.

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