Tuesday, July 8, 2008

California Shows Need for Private Firefighters

The nation's first fire departments were privately organized "companies," so it stands to reason that the private sector can help fight fires in the 21st century.

After all, we don't complain about private ambulance companies coming to rescue people, or private medical practices and private hospitals tending to victims of fire and other disasters.

"Blackwater might be a more appropriate name for the future of some private firefighting business," says a Los Angeles blogger.

If the US Forest Service can't staff up to fight the massive blazes out west, why not fill the firefighter shortage with private volunteer companies?

Benjamin Franklin organized the first fire department in what is now the United States, and he organized the first fire insurance company as well. (Franklin is shown in a fanciful 19th century firefighter painting.) Private fire insurance companies funded fire departments in order to protect their interests.

The first organized firefighting units in America, established in Boston, existed only to put out fires in the homes and businesses of fellow members. If you weren't a member, your fire might not get put out. Private firefighters contracted by municipal, state or federal authorities, would and can help anyone in need, just like the non-governmental private volunteer fire departments already do.

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