It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, employers are asking more of their employees while giving them less pay and crappier benefits. While they may have recruited you years before with benefits like a 401K or a pension, those perks have started to disappear, as have affordable health benefits. At the same time, they have laid off staff and asked those existing superstars to take on more and wear multiple hats.
Inevitably, when personnel are overworked, underpaid and stressed out, service to their constituents suffers. No human can do it all. And although the corporate machine believes their worker-bees can survive and make their bottom line thrive with fewer resources, they aren’t the ones in the trenches carrying the heavy load. This sentiment is shared by many in the fire service based on their comments to one of my recent posts on Fire Chief’s Facebook page. (If you haven’t liked our page, please join the online conversation.) I posted a cartoon of a firefighter loaded down with gear — everything from EMT and hazmat tools to the kitchen sink. Next to the firefighter was an administrator, commenting that “Oh, and we’re cutting your budget.”
The cartoon was not meant to make Facebook followers laugh, but rather to lighten up the truth: Fire departments are being asked to wear multiple hats without the federal or financial support to do it well — much less do it all. I asked followers if it was exaggerated or the hard truth. Everyone agreed that this was the sad truth, and that emergency services are the pawns of politicians. One Facebook follower named Patrick commented that the cartoon was, “Very true .. .do more, train more on your time and you pay for it and we’re making cuts ... ugggg.”
Charles, a 41-year veteran, said it costs firefighters money to be of service to their community. In fact, he’s paid for everything until his department starting applying for grants. Yet he still pays for almost every piece of equipment he’s used from gear to boots to helmets to radios. “God, how prices have skyrocketed,” he added.
The job always has been a heavy load, said Bryan. “They want you to take all the responsibility and pay you shit. Life of an American hero.”
Ronald sarcastically added, “Oh ... and by the way, that pension of yours ...?” While Gary quipped, “Oh, and about the back pain you ‘claim’ to have... .”
But Michael might have said it right: “This would be such a funny picture if it wasn't oh so true... sad face :(.”
So I have to ask chiefs, how does this make you feel? Is it true and, if so, what can be done about it?