The Good Old Days (what was so good about them?)

May 17th, 2011

by Jack McLoughlin

The fire service has progressed tremendously in the years that I have had the pleasure to serve. I think my department, which I love, is typical of many suburban departments in North America. The changes in training, apparatus, the ability to perform tasks in a professional manner, and leadership is nothing short of incredible. I clearly remember my first day in the fire service. I was asked if I could drive a truck. I said sure. They had me drive the truck around the fire district, stopping to pump the truck two or three times. When we got back to the station, they told me I was qualified to be a driver and a pump operator. I was amazed because I knew that I knew nothing about fire fighting and pumping. But that was the level of training in
those days.

The legislation that we all like to knock has been good for the fire service. We now have mandatory training on blood borne pathogens and hazardous materials, we have physical agility testing and yearly re-qualification on equipment. This is necessary in the society that we live. Fifty years ago you were trained to place your bare hand into a deep cut to stem the blood flow. No one in their right mind would do that today. Today all medical aid is given with full protection on the EMT. Previously when we went to the scene of a motor vehicle accident and some unknown substance was spilled on the road, we automatically washed it to the side and left it. Today we are a lot smarter than that and realize that we would be contaminating our drinking water. The residue is collected and disposed of properly. If it isn’t our grandchildren will be drinking it.

The macho attitude was incredible. Only wimps couldn’t take the smoke and heat. A real man didn’t need air packs or turnout gear. He could rush in and make the save without protection. Most of them went to the hospital, but somehow they were still looked upon as heroes. Today they would be sent for psychiatric counseling. It was real cool to sit on top of the hose bed of a speeding apparatus and put on your turnout gear. If that isn’t nuts, nothing is.

The good old days were more fun because there were not so many demands on the fire service, but I prefer modern fire fighting with the public getting the service they pay for and deserve. I personally am proud that I was part of the modernization of my fire department.

Todays firefighter has many advantages over the firefighter of fifty years ago. Just in the last decade we have been witness to technological changes in the industry that has even the tech-savvy of us looking on in amazement.

Jack McLoughlin, B.S.E.E., Inventor, holds over 25 patents in the Fire Fighting and EMS fields, 46 year Fire fighter, 15 year EMT.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 17th, 2011 at 8:50 am and is filed under commentary articles. There are 2 Responses to “The Good Old Days (what was so good about them?)” :
Peggie L., Baker (Mrs. Lewis) Says:

Dear Jack, I enjoyed reading your article. I, too, remember some of these things. I remember that when Lewis took of over as Fire Chief, the innovations he put in place to insure the safety and the formal training for his firefighters. He did this as instructor as well. He is still missed. I hope you and your family and community are recovering from Hurricane Sandy and now from the destructive effects of the huge snow storm. I wish you and your family good health and happiness. Sincerely Peggie

Hilly Munson Says:

Jack, I was vacationing at Pine Ridge in FL , and a couple from NJ, close relationship to you , knew my sister, and that I was a firefighter from RI and they mentioned some of your accomplishments, something on the pump and water, “a tank gauge”, and you a firefighting equipment inventor, etc. A great person to know.

But what was that you perfected for parachutists who get entangled in a tree, to get to the ground safely?

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