In the old days, firefighters were there to help when the call came in. The only thing between them and the fire was a thin helmet and a hose pumping a weak amount of water as compared to the hoses of today. The smoke and flames were not something that were a concern to the “leather lung” firefighter who threw caution to the wind and just did what he loved to do. This perception of the firefighter may still be in the minds of some who are living in today’s world. Unfortunately, this is not the way it really is now. Firefighting has become a skilled art and science making fighting fire more precise and safe. No more will they go in to a fire without special breathing equipment to give them a safe journey in and out and the latest gear adorning ever inch of them.
In the past, fighting the fire was done with little knowledge of any of the new things known today. Most men went in with only a small amount, if any, training. Todays, men and women are not only trained in the finer art of fighting fire, many of them have been introduced on an intimate level to the beast. When they go inside the burning structure, it is now a struggle to control the beast and them to take it out completely. Strategy and planning goes into each fire fight because, as it was back in the day, life is at risk in all situations. Training into the new arts is mandatory. Hours and hours are spent in training each individual in every possible scenario and part of the fire fighting experience. If the training classes were voluntary, many fire service professionals may tell you that it is not something they would choose to undertake on their own.
Since the 1970’s the death rate has been lowered drastically because of the new safety measures and gear that has come into the fire services as standard issue. Even so, the death rate is still a real part of the job. Since, the 1950’s the type of person who chooses to be a firefighter has changed also. While those from the past chose not to protect themselves, the firefighter of today are completely protected with the many choices in protective gear. Turn Out gear is not only a piece of clothing but has undergone every type of scientific development to make it as good as it can be. Technology has been a positive asset for the fire service and changes are still coming but, are they being accepted as fast? Customs are set and altering them is something that does not happen often. Aren’t customs what has made this profession last as long as it has?
It is true that firefighting is an ancient profession with many staying in for the duration giving ten, twenty, thirty, or more years of service. The firefighters make up a tight group and change is not something looked for or even wanted no matter what form it comes in. Old habits die hard and this is no exception for fire fighting veterans and probies’ alike. Change and new technologies are coming and can be a good thing for those involved but those changes are slow in being accepted and implemented. The old ways worked back in the day so why does it need to change now? Personal preference can only be the right explanation. I guess some things are better left alone!