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annikastheory wrote

This is just my thoughts on it. Honestly this is the most I have ever really sat and fleshed them out. Probably going to repeat a little of what I said in my two other comments. I am not certain that the issue is big enough, or happens enough, to be considered systemic, it may be systemic I don't totally know. Also to be super clear my issue would be with fire-fighters in state-run fire departments not necessarily fire-fighters as a whole. I also only have experience and knowledge with fire departments in the US. Obviously fire departments suffer from any issue that a state-run organization would, but I have two issues specific to them.

My first issue would be that sometimes firefighters refuse to fight fires. For example a fire department in rural tennesee let a house burn down two years in a row because the home owners didn't pay the fire service fee for that year [1] [2]. Or the time in Detroit when the fire department took a selfie in front of a house that was burning [3]. That particular instance may have a racial component as well since the fire department was all white and in a black neighborhood. Lastly, and I will be honest I am having trouble finding a source for this one so take that as you will, but as Lettuce said they will let houses burn if they are squatted and the police tell them to let it burn.

My second issue would be that firefighters will work hand in hand with the police, in particular they will hose protestors/rioters. The most culturally significant instance in US history of this is the Birmingham campaign in 1963, I am getting lazy now so just do an image search on that one. I am not sure how often this happens though because many police stations actually have their own water hoses now, or they will borrow them from the fire department. Still the willingness of firefighters to cooperate with the police is an issue worth pointing out.

I am not sure that this proves anything exactly. However It is enough for me to be wary of fire departments. It also makes me think that fire departments carry some (not all) of the problems we find in more militaristic organizations such as the police.


bloodrose wrote

Thank you for the well researched reply!

The most culturally significant instance in US history of this is the Birmingham campaign in 1963

The firefighter PR is strong. Because I never even associated them with that. But, like you say, even if the cops did it, where did they get a fire hose from in the first place? I can't believe it never cross my mind! It just went right over my head!

A city I lived in a few years back had a fire department and police department that shared a budget. Guess who got all the gear? The police. Because no one would give less money to -gasp!- firefighters! Everyone in the city knew it was a scam. You'd drive down the street and see 4 cop cars and people who weren't from the city would be like "oh my god! what is happening?" and us locals would be like "someone probably jay-walked." They had so many cops and fancy ass sports car police cars.