To the Editor:
Back in May 2016,I read an article in the Warwick Beacon about “Firefighters Getting Bonuses for being Healthy.” Having had family members in the department for the last 30 years, I was angry that this article put our firefighters in a negative light! Not until this March 23 after watching something about firefighters nationally was I prompted to write about my support.
Being a firefighter or police officer is an opportunity open to anyone who qualifies. It is not an easy job and with the on going violence in today’s world, we may find it difficult to fill these positions in the future. I believe community safety and education are two of the most important areas of tax dollar allocation. From that article, “owning a business for a long, long time, and knowing how to read a balance sheet” does not put your life at risk.
First responders are hurting – trauma, mental health, PTSD, addiction. The International Association of Firefighters surveyed 7,000 firefighters – 95 percent experience critical stress on the job, 27 percent say stress has led to substance abuse, 19 percent had thoughts of suicide. The very nature of the job forces these men and women to put aside their emotions at that moment and confront the emergency at hand. They deal with everyday issues like the rest of us – financial, medical, marital issues. Now compound that with the possible horror they see on the job – fires, gun violence, disfigurement, unpredictability they face responding to each call, death, young and old alike. And remember, each firefighter may carry over 50 pounds of equipment to many runs. They are not super heroes, they are human and stresses add up.
Certainly, they deserve benefits above and beyond, ready at a moments notice to provide safety and peace of mind for our community! These personnel should be compensated well for they services, possibly putting their lives at risk on the job, and for their families who are grateful if their loved one returns every day.
Would the private business owners mind providing their financial info for us to review, just to be sure you aren’t making too much off those who choose to use your services?
How many lives have you saved lately? What kept you from becoming a firefighter or police officer? Is your job comparable to someone putting on a suit and walking into a burning building to save others? Taxpayers’ expense or not? I don’t think so.
I am a hard working taxpayer who will always be supportive and grateful for our public service employees. We should be thanking these people, not wasting time criticizing them. Anyone who has ever needed their services I’m sure would agree.