In the next few years, the Fire Service will experience a transition that will affect every single fire department in the U.S. These problems will divide the survivors from the defeated.If you are a paid, volunteer, or mix department, it does not matter. At an unprecedented pace, the cost of hiring fire fighters would increase. And it’s not just accounting, it’s the entire cost of the fires being fought by people.Do you want to learn more? Visit
Education. It takes much more experience than ever before for a brand new firefighter – only to fight fires. Add to that the advanced training required by fire departments today, such as confined space, rescue, water rescue, EMT, and other skills, and you get a huge investment in your people – even though they are voluntary.
Appliances. Protective gear and services are more secure than ever. But with an ever – price tag, the protection comes with it. It seems to be only to have the best equipment available to those who serve. But the cost of keeping your people safe will be rising.
The good old days of a bunch of guys leaving their work for their community to fight fires are long gone. And the comparatively low labour costs of making guys who fought fires out of a sense of obligation go along with those days, not because they had to be recruited in any way – either by receiving a paycheck or other incentives to draw fresh volunteers.
If you count on government funds as your source of income, be prepared for the forthcoming budget struggles that will soon be faced by all levels of government. During the past few years, most U.S. federal, state and local governments have been running deficits. That means they borrowed cash just to keep the lights on. For grants and major discretionary purchases, there would be less funds in the future.
On top of that for some time, the current economic climate will reduce tax revenues and there seems to be an increasing sense of taxpayer rage, both combined to restrict tax growth at all levels of government.If you are a not-for-profit fire service, you are expected to file an IRS form 990 to disclose your financial activities (with a few exceptions). To retain your tax-exempt status, this form is necessary. Some states, such as Pennsylvania, as they buy new apparatus, are becoming even more strict regarding financial reporting and compliance.
To make fire departments a lot more responsible for their funds than in the past, there is a brewing storm. For most departments that have felt flexibility over how they operate and write about their departments, this would be quite a shock. Forward-thinking fire services will start to provide quality financial reports that can be used by everyone. Anecdotally, their financial statements are now posted on their website by a rising number of agencies.
So be prepared to completely report to your group your financial activities.
Issue #4: There will be a higher rise in essential costs than inflation.
Within the next few years, the type of expenditures and purchases that fire services need would well outpace the general rate of inflation. The need for specialist fire services for equipment is highly dependent on high quality raw materials. In the near and medium term, the prices of these materials will rise very high. In addition, prices for services such as insurance, utilities, and accounting are also increasing rapidly (see Issue #3).
Of course, by delaying transactions or searching for inferior but cheaper facilities, many departments can cover these expenses. Although intended to assist, this premise will be embraced and designed accordingly by the ready department.
In short, the next few years will have a perfect financial storm for unprepared fire departments. Departments must begin to prepare now to face these historical financial pressures with the squeeze of lower revenues and higher labour costs and everything else, otherwise they will be forced to merge with more productive departments at the behest of local governments.