In cooperation with all of the
contributors, Chief Goldfeder is
donating 100% of his royalties
equally between the DC Raymond
Downey Scholarship Charity Fund,
the National Fallen Firefghters
Foundation, and the Firefghter
Cancer Support Network. April 2016
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JULY 2017 FIRERESCUE MAGAZINE 47
The communications and advanced technology sections of the
study were expanded in the latest version to include new questions
and reflect technology changes. This area also showed a disparity
between large and small communities, where computer-aided dispatch (CAD) was used by more than 95 percent of departments having a community size of 50,000 or greater, but only 39 percent of
departments in communities of less than 2,500 used CAD. Mobile
geographic information systems and tablet software also faced
similar gaps, with much less use in communities of smaller populations. Of special note, half of the departments serving populations of
less than 2,500 had none of the advanced technologies. More than
85 percent of departments in communities of 10,000 or more had
access to a thermal imaging camera, while this percentage was lower,
57 percent, for departments in communities under 2,500.
The latest NFPA fire service needs assessment is a valuable tool
for our fire service and gives us measurements of our service’s
response to the challenges that we face. While some needs have
declined, many critical needs have either remained steady or shown
an increase. This is especially true in smaller communities, where
fire service needs are almost universally more extensive in relationship to the size of the community. The expectations of the public
and role of the fire service are expanding rapidly at the same time
that resources are becoming scarce and sometimes are even being
cut. As examples, active shooter response, enhanced technical
rescue, and wildland urban interface firefighting are new challenges
many departments face.
As we look to the future and we consider the role that AFG and
SAFER play in targeting areas of need in the fire service, these
funding streams become even more crucial when other streams
shrink or disappear. To truly meet the needs measured in the current fire service, these programs would need to grow or expand.
One thing is for certain, the fire service in the United States
must continue to seek new and creative ways to meet needs and
bridge gaps where possible. This comes through innovations in
process, technology, and creativity.
1. The National Fire Protection Association, “Fourth Needs Assessment of the U.S.
Fire Service: Conducted in 2015 and Including Comparisons to the 2001, 2005,
and 2010 Needs Assessment Surveys,” November 2016, www.nfpa.org/news-and-research/fire-statistics-and-reports/fire-statistics/the-fire-service/administration/
Nathaniel J. Melby is a 19-year veteran of the fire service and chief of the Campbell
(WI) Fire Department. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin State Fire
Chiefs Association and is the president of the La Crosse County Fire Officers Association. A Wisconsin-certified fire instructor, Melby has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, an M.B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater,
and a Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. He has developed and taught graduate
and undergraduate courses in management and technology at multiple universities
and has a full-time career in technology management for a large global enterprise.