Lately we’ve heard a lot of talk about how dangerous some of our Municipality of Anchorage jobs are, especially firefighters and police officers. We have been bombarded with mailings, radio ads, and other messaging that implies that these public safety employees will not have the proper safety equipment to respond adequately to 911 calls, fires, and crimes. Unfortunately, some in the community believe these messages, especially the fragile elderly.
It is, indeed, unfortunate that union leaders have resorted to scare tactics and threats to mislead citizens about the impact of AO-37, the Responsible Labor Act. These tactics shed a poor light on professional firefighters and police officers. The rank and file members are much better than that and deserve better from their leaders. As an example, one of the recent flyers from the opposition to AO-37 states:
“The number of firefighters and police officers on a shift directly impacts response times for emergencies. Instead of being able to bargain for safety equipment and the number of firefighters and cops on a shift…these decisions will be made solely by politicians and bureaucrats…. “
As it now stands, the police and firefighters union leaders make the decisions regarding staffing levels. The police and fire chiefs are not able to make the decision. Recently, police chief Mew wanted to change the police in schools from a 4-ten hour shift to a 5-eight hour shift. That makes sense because now there are 2 officers assigned to the schools so that with a 10 hour day there is only one officer on duty on Mondays and Fridays. It also makes sense because students are not in school classes for more than eight hours. The current schedule guarantees that these officers each get a 3 day weekend. The union leadership responded that it would offer a 5-ten hour shift for these officers! The police chief was unable to make the 5-eight hour shift decision without the union’s concurrence.
Likewise, the firefighters union decides how many firefighters are assigned to each truck. Thus the union determines total manning for the fire department without management concurrence.
But aren’t firefighters and police officers always putting their lives on the line for us? And isn’t this type of work really just plain dangerous? Well let’s look at the facts. Here are the top 1o most dangerous jobs as listed by the U.S. Department of Labor (Source USDOL):
- Logging workers
- Fishers and related fishing workers
- Aircraft pilots and flight engineers
- Structural iron and steel workers
- Refuse and recyclable material collectors
- Electrical power line installers and repairers
- Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
- Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers
- Construction laborers
Actually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, being a firefighter is less dangerous than being an auto mechanic.
We do appreciate the work firefighters and police officers do for the community. But when it comes to the facts, there are many more in our community who have more dangerous jobs.