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Article posted Jul 22 2012, 1:51 PM Category: Economy Source: Marginal Revolution Print

Firefighters Don't Fight Fires

by Alex Tabarrok

Wow, this was absolutely eye opening, now it makes sense why I've been seeing firefighter trucks everywhere on the road where there's a car accident, I'm always expecting to see some burned out automobile but instead it's just a common crash. I never realized they're literally just showing up to make it seem like they're doing something! This is a must read! - ChrisOver the past 35 years, the number of fires in the United States has fallen by more than 40% while the number of career firefighters has increased by more than 40% (data).

(N.B. Volunteer firefighters were mostly pushed out of the big cities in the late 19th century but there are a surprising number who remain in rural areas and small towns; in fact, more in total than career firefighters. The number of volunteers has been roughly constant and almost all of them operate within small towns of less than 25,000. Thus, you can take the above as approximating towns and cities of more than 25,000.)

The decline of demand has created a problem for firefighters. What Fred McChesney wrote some 10 years ago is even more true today:
Taxpayers are unlikely to support budget increases for fire departments if they see firemen lolling about the firehouse. So cities have created new, highly visible jobs for their firemen. The Wall Street Journal reported recently, “In Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, for example, 90% of the emergency calls to firehouses are to accompany ambulances to the scene of auto accidents and other medical emergencies. Elsewhere, to keep their employees busy, fire departments have expanded into neighborhood beautification, gang intervention, substitute-teaching and other downtime pursuits.” In the Illinois township where I live, the fire department drives its trucks to accompany all medical emergency vehicles, then directs traffic around the ambulance--a task which, however valuable, seemingly does not require a hook-and-ladder.
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Comments 1 - 8 of 8 Add Comment Page 1 of 1

Posted: Jul 22 2012, 8:32 PM

69131 I believe the FBI is using some firefighters for organized stalking of targeted individuals. Why doesn't the FBI reveal this organized stalking and electronic torture program to the public to see if they want their tax dollars being used to torture people.

Posted: Jul 22 2012, 10:07 PM

69131 Gang/organized stalking and electronic satellite torture fired on US Citizens is the current FBI Cointelpro and America's great shame. ALL involved will undoubtedly end up in hell the problem is just waiting for them to get there.

Posted: Jul 26 2012, 11:08 AM

72204 I was in L.A. on business. I threw up for some reason at a restaurant. They called 911. I asked them not to and told them I would be fine. 12 guys in EMS, Ambulance, Firetruck!!! showed up because I upchucked at a table from a stomach virus. Then, because of a higher than usual blood pressure reading, they forced me into ER, where I spent 5 hours. Total bill? Who knows. Insurance covered some, but I threw up at it cost me $2500. Everyone else made out quite nicely.

Posted: Jul 26 2012, 11:17 AM

Hehe, wow that's a crazy story. I'm seeing firetrucks everywhere these days, they're always accompanying ambulances, I feel like I put the glasses on in the movie "They Live."

Posted: Jul 26 2012, 1:22 PM

72223 During 9-11 we saw some firefighters "lolling" around the Twin Towers wreckage.......
Oh, wait a minute, they weren't "lolling"......They were dead!

Jesus H. Crist!
Leave the firemen alone!

Posted: Aug 06 2012, 12:24 AM

2460 72223 fireman have become parasites, destroying city budgets. enough of the hero crap. lots of americans have dangerous jobs.

Posted: Mar 31 2015, 3:16 PM

70183 Come do the job then Mike Dow. You wouldnt last 2 would have you running outside quicker then you went in! You must be a politician if you think firefighters are destroying city budgets jackass.

Posted: Apr 09 2015, 3:17 PM

71207 As a career firefighter, I must admit every bit of this article, and those like it, is true. The fire department, in its modern capacity is a huge waste of money. Those tax dollars need to be reallocated and specified use for EMS, law enforcement, and education.

When people such as 72223 mention 9-11, that is sadly in most cases the only argument firefighters and unions have; or unions will play on fear and emotion, guilt tripping citizens into paying more taxes to fund a dying profession.

Bottom line, the fire department is pointless and a waste of money. I would love to see fire departments nationwide get cut by > 50%.
Comments 1 - 8 of 8 Page 1 of 1

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