A little background on me, from December 1998 to September 7, 2001, I worked at One Park Avenue in NY. My wife worked for a company that took care of plants in office buildings all over metro NYC, including the Twin Towers. My last day of work was the Friday before 9/11 - I was in Albany when the planes hit the towers.
But in January 2002, just a few months after 9/11, I began my journey with the volunteer fire service. Like the average citizen, I had no idea how fire protection or ambulance service worked. I knew if I called 911 trucks with lights and sirens showed up. I knew to fill the boot during the fund drive. I knew my local fire company put on the best pancake breakfast around! I knew my best friend's mom kept a green light in her car (she was a volunteer EMT) but I was't allowed to play around with it! I never learned how departments received their income, how they knew to respond, how they trained and prepared - was all foreign to me.
Then I started learning about the volunteer fire service and the dedicated community servants that staff the departments. I learned about the differences between a fire company and a fire district, and why a village fire department is different from an independent company. I've enjoyed every minute of it, and look forward to serving fire departments and local governments into the future.
During these 17+ years, the volunteer fire service has changed. The events on 9/11 were a catalyst to some of those changes, but so many other factors are at play as well. This post isn't about what those factors are - I can't pretend to know what they all are to write an informative article on it (although I'd love to hear how you think things have changed). That being said, I've heard a lot of feedback from firefighters and commissioners, and been asked a lot of questions about how certain new activities fit into the point system.
The types of emergencies have changed, the way departments respond has changed, training has changed, the time commitment has changed...you know what hasn't changed much at all? LOSAP. There has been some incremental changes over the years, but not enough to adapt to the way the volunteer fire service has evolved. In particular here in NY State, the point system needs an overhaul. The benefit available to defined contribution plans must be increased to be more competitive with the defined benefit plan. A statute that is vague and incomplete in many areas should be tightened up.
I'm a believer in not complaining unless you have a solution. In this case, I don't have a great solution. I think it will take the combined efforts of the state-wide associations to spearhead a change, and I know they have other challenges in front of them. Until we can see some significant changes in the statute, we'll continue to deal with a once-size-fits-all statue when fire departments and their operations become increasingly unique.
Sharing my thoughts and insights on LOSAP, and occasionally other topics.