Nearly four years after the tragic death of junior volunteer firefighter Christopher Kangas, a
We understand this specific issue-this was a very, very dedicated young man-like so many, loved the fire service. However, these recent changes increase the potential for a perceived expansion, or an “increase” of LODD’s. To us, it asks the question “Is any member of a FD qualified for LODD benefits and for honored status”? For example, if a member of the FD Auxiliary is taking coffee or rehab items to a scene-and loses their life, will they be covered? The actual answer may not really matter…their dedication is unquestionable. But the real issue is that maybe we need to look at “definitions within definitions” of LODD’s? I just returned from
Under one umbrella, we understand that for a variety of reasons, various classifications of fire department members may be covered. But maybe, for the purpose of managing specific numbers related to the challenges of preventing and REDUCING LODD’s, we start classifying, or applying specific classification titles to the various types of LODD’s in areas such as:
FIREFIGHTER KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY :
-While responding to a dispatched emergency.
-While engaged in firefighting (on the line, actually fighting the fire or operating equipment that directly impacts the ability to control a fire or save a life).
-While directly attempting to save a life/attempt or in the course of a rescue.
-While engaged at an emergency scene.
-While engaged in official activities supporting a FD.
-While operating and becoming a victim of terrorism.
-24 Hours after any of the above (with the exception of trauma which is on-going)
…and all of the above could be divided between medical and trauma.
On one hand, as much GOOD as firefighters and members of fire departments do, the reward should be a given….especially in light of all the money that gets pissed away at the federal level. Have you read about this in the past several weeks? Despite a $371 billion budget deficit and a national debt of $8.5 trillion, the feds continue to support some amazing projects. Now before you read this next paragraph, picture those
Citizens Against Government Waste, a non-profit and non-partisan organization, issued its 16th annual summary of government “pork” spending last week. The Congressional Pig Book Summary, bound in a bright pink cover, lists almost 400 projects in fy 2006, totaling $3.4 billion. The projects usually benefit a small group or special interest with money Congress appropriates, or earmarks, outside of normal budget procedures. Shhhhh.
Some of the highlighted projects, include $13.5 million for the International Fund for
got $47 million for national park upkeep and a visitors’ center in the Kodiak Wildlife Refuge. And you’ve probably read about
In case you are having a good day, and want to get really PO’ed, a complete list of these projects can be found on the Citizens Against Government Waste’s Web site: http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reports_pigbook2006
When we read about that stuff, there is no doubt that LODD benefit money is not the issue in looking at firefighter LODD’s. After seeing the waste, maybe all LODD survivors should get one million dollars….absolutely true and appropriate spending of our tax dollars. On the other hand, is it beyond thought to think that fire service related funding could become an issue, with the current climate in
However, maybe we need to categorically start looking “within” our LODD’s to really see how we are actually dying in the line of duty….for the specific purpose of helping continue the efforts to reduce the numbers-not to save money-but to save firefighters. Like it or not, while all are under the umbrella of dedicated firefighters who truly are good folks serving our communities, there is probably a difference between a 70+ year old multi-decade dedicated Firefighter having a heart attack while helping at a fire…a Junior Firefighter tragically struck and killed on his bicycle responding to the firehouse…the Firefighters murdered on 9/11…Firefighters running each other over with their apparatus…..Fire apparatus striking each other…..Firefighters falling out of the cab….a Firefighter 100+ pounds overweight having a heart attack…a Firefighter rescuing a woman trapped in a house fire….Firefighters burning up during training and Firefighters getting killed driving to a call while breaking the traffic laws.
Before this article was final, I had several Chiefs and Firefighters who were directly involved with LODD’s as well as some family members who lost loved ones as LODD’s review it. I also had some firefighters read it as well-firefighters who were “right there” when a fellow firefighter lost their life. Why have those folks read this? Because as much as any of us may be involved, study, write about and teach to prevent these events-no one understands what the families and fire personnel who were directly involved, feel. Their input resulted in this article.
Undeniably-these are all horrible, tragic, heart wrenching line of duty deaths-and when in doubt, a firefighter (or members of a FD) death should probably be considered an LODD…but should they all fall under one single category as FIREFIGHTER KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY? Maybe they should and maybe there are more important things to worry about-like preventing them. But to prevent them, I think we have to look more closely at who they were, what lead up to their death and how they tragically died. And by looking at more specifically defined categories, perhaps then we’ll be able to see true numbers and then determine if we are reducing LODD’s.or not. And more importantly, reducing the number of LODD survivor families by reducing our deaths…in all categories. After all, once we are gone-we are gone…it’s our kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends and whoever loved us that is left behind….forever thinking about how we died and that we are never coming home again.