Watching fire porn through prevention-colored glasses

fp-2.jpg

Rick Markley, FR1 Editor-in-chief

Years ago when I first became editor of Fire Chief, I sat down with the art director, several issues of our magazine and several issues of our competitors' publications. All the covers had one thing in common: fire porn.

I charged her with making Fire Chief's covers different.

I wish I could tell you that decision was driven by some deeper understanding of what we need to present to the fire service; that I was in some way ahead of the curve on the prevention-over-suppression mindset — a pioneer.

I wasn't that wise or clever. I was looking at it simply from a competitive standpoint and the need to be visually distinct.

Several years have passed and my fire service knowledge has grown. I can now appreciate and agree with our columnist Billy Hayes when he says that our obsession with fire porn can take our eye off the ball — lose sight of the real prize.

That real prize is, of course, firefighter and civilian lives.

Fire porn has value. It is an incredible learning tool. At FireRescue1 and Fire Chief, we are peddlers of that porn and will continue to be.

The suppression vs. prevention debate reminds me of what I've heard cops say. Cops will train on weapons and hand-to-hand combat because their lives depend on it.

Yet, many will tell you the best way to win a fight is to never have it. Defusing a situation before it escalates is far better than a smooth takedown.

The same is true with fire. The best knockdown is at the home that never burns.

The percentage of firefighters who joined the service to become prevention wonks is arguably quite small.

Yet how many who have experienced a firefighter line-of-duty death would, if they could, go back in time and do everything in their power to prevent that fire from ever starting? I would argue that the percentage is quite high.

Sexy or not, fire prevention needs to be part of the fire service conversation, curriculum and culture.

A wise fire chief told me not long ago that every time a rig rolls to a fire represents a failure by that department. Perhaps the future of fire porn lies not in educating us on tactics and strategy, but shaming us on lack of prevention.

Comments - Add Yours