As you can see from the posts, there’s a huge amount of hostility to anyone who is critical of the fire department operations or employees — and vehemently opposed to any suggestion that might provide nonunion firefighting support when battling the major conflagrations. Reader Howiek essentially hopes that my house burned down so I’ll move away, and is praying for someone in my family to die without firefighter aid, so I’ll feel guilty.

So be it. I can get a bit testy myself.

Reader JF (not JR, as I was previously using) is the self-designated expert for the fire department. He sounds confident, spewing out facts as if they were true. For instance, he claims that the number of structure fires are up, and that they burn hotter to boot. Let’s test his accuracy.

I guess that my opponents figure that I don’t know how to use Google. I went to the firefighters’ favorite Cassandra website — the one that brays for more spending, more spending, more spending. I’m referring to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), whose single purpose seems to be to lobby for bigger firefighter budgets — hardly an ally of mine.

I found on their treasured website a historical chart of structure fires and injuries from 1977 through 2005. Coincidentally, 1977 was the last year before property taxes were cut — when things were great, according to the firefighters. Go to the link below to see some remarkable figures and trends.

To summarize, in spite of the growth of our nation’s population and structures in the last 30 years, the number of fires was cut in half.

Similar drops occurred in the number of civilian fire deaths (50.3 percent) and firefighter deaths (44.5 percent).

Moreover, looking just at the single and two family structures (including manufactured homes), the drop in the number of such fires during that timeframe was 57.7 percent.

So, ya gotta ask yourself: Is JF just an ignorant rube firefighter, or is he lying through his teeth? JF strikes me as far too intelligent to be considered “ignorant.”

— RICHARD RIDER

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