September 8, 2013
ONE OF THOSE TECHNOLOGICAL BREAKTHROUGHS THAT NO ONE NOTICES:
Plenty of firefighters, but where are the fires? : As 'emergency' changes its meaning, some critics are arguing it's time to revisit a century-old system (Leon Neyfakh, SEPTEMBER 08, 2013, Boston Globe)
[A]s a recent Globe Story reported, City Records show That major Fires Are Becoming Vanishingly Rare. In 1975, there Were 417 of Them. Last year, there Were 40. That's a decline of more than 90 percent. A City That was once a tinderbox of wooden houses has become-thanks to better building codes, automatic sprinkler systems, and more careful behavior-a much less vulnerable place.As this has happened, however, the number of professional firefighters in Boston has dropped only slightly, from around 1,600 in the 1980s to just over 1,400 today. The cost of running the department, meanwhile, has increased by almost $ 43 million over the past decade , and currently stands at $ 185 million, or around 7.5 percent of the city's total budget.
The trend in Boston is part of a striking nationwide phenomenon. The number of career firefighters per capita in the United States is essentially unchanged since 1986, but of the roughly 30 million calls America's fire departments responded to in 2011, the last year for which statistics are available, only about 1.4 million were fire-related-down by more than 50 percent since 1981, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Posted by Orrin Judd at September 8, 2013 8:39 AM