America’s Fire Departments Worried Over Impact of Continued Recession

The current economic crisis is negatively affecting fire departments across the country, according to a survey of firefighters.

More than half of all fire departments said the poor economy meant they had to increase fundraising efforts or grant writing due to budget cutbacks. Fifty-five percent strongly agree or agree that if the economic situation continues for another 12 months, it will negatively affect their ability to serve their community.

The study, “Supporting Safer Communities: A National Firefighter Survey,” sponsored by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., attracted nearly 9,500 fire departments or 30 percent of departments in the country.

The survey found that the top three challenges facing fire departments today are:

“When you consider that firefighters are the first responders to nearly every fire, medical emergency, and natural or man-made disaster in our local communities, it is imperative that we have adequate funding to ensure we keep our communities safe,” said Chief Larry J. Grorud, president of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Among the findings:

Not all the findings were grim – many firefighters had positive information to convey about their departments. Despite the current economic crisis, only 17 percent of fire departments felt the
quality of service they provide has declined, 90 percent believe they have adequate training for structural fires; and 62 percent are confident in their fire service organizations’ disaster response capabilities.

The survey sponsor, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., has a nationwide philanthropic program that provides equipment, training and educational tools to local fire departments. Since 2004, Fireman’s Fund has issued grants to more than 1,100 different departments totaling more than $21 million.

Full results can be found here.