Wednesday, December 2, 2009


I ran into an acquaintance from down south the other day. "Tyler" a firefighter in a small city in Los Angeles County. Like most of us, he works for a city that experiencing some budget issues. His bargaining unit has agreed to some staffing level concessions to help soften the economic woes.

Apparently, the concessions and cutbacks were not enough and the city is seeking to reduce costs even more. One thing that is being looked at is eliminating the fire dept. and contracting with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. for fire protection. Although this idea has been looked at before and dismissed, many feel the timing for such a move is right and is likely to occur.

This is not an uncommon occurance. L.A. County provides fire protection for many cities within the county and has absorbed at least ten municipal fire depts. since I have been a firefighter.

As far as I know, when a department is disbanded and L.A. County gets the contract, the personnel are usually absorbed into L.A. County fire.

I believe L.A. County is a great organization and also believe that for most of the people who get absorbed, it is a great deal once the kinks get worked out.

I asked Tyler what he thought about being absorbed and I was a little surprised by his answer.

"Schmoe, I'm bummed" he said. " I've spent XX years of my life with my department. I've been on the board, I've seen it evolve and develop it's culture. It would be sad to see it go away."

I tried to point out the opportunity to experience all of the things that a mega-department has to offer, but Tyler didn't seem to care. He knew that his way of life might be changing. The idea of helicopters, fireboats, bulldozers, handcrews haz-mat teams and USAR teams didn't surpass the feeling of belonging and culture that his present department provides.

I am not sure how I would feel if a larger organization swallowed up my beloved  Kinda Big Fire Protection District. I am sure I would struggle with the changes in procedures and policies, but I'm sure I would adapt. I definitely would miss all most of my co-workers, but the ones a care about the most, I would find a way to keep in touch.

I would definitely rather get absorbed than be out of a fire service career. I can't see myself finishing concrete again or washing airplanes.I don't think I have to worry though. L.A. County is a long way from where I work.

Thanks for reading,



  1. Hi Captain,

    Thanks for all the posts - don't change a thing.

    I've found this youtube video about the value of firefighters as a public service, you may have already seen it otherwise I thought you might be interested.

    Which actually reminds us that, at least according to Wikipedia, firefighting in the Roman Empire was a private enterprise, one in which someone called Marcus Licinius Crassus made a fortune.

  2. Dear Captain Schmoe,
    My reaction for the other person is that he is either a personal developer/trainer who likes to keep the pulse on a small number of people, or a guy who likes to be the big fish in the pond.

    Sometimes those two things go hand in hand, and neither one is bad.

    The other thing is, if he helped build it, then going anonymous by having LAFD is going to hit his right in the identity. He's going to have a struggle to find it again. Best way, is to set up as you have--find a way to keep in touch with people. I hope he can do that.

    Ann T.

  3. Captain,

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I spent the past hour checking yours out and I like it. I hope you keep coming back to mine!

    Stay Safe!