Firemen vs. Policemen- Keeping Busy During Slow Periods

I think the idea is that an obvious police presence can help prevent crime; the presence of fire fighters isn’t so likely to prevent fires.

If they’re on duty, I imagine the drinking would be frowned upon quite a lot. I also gather that a fact of police work is that there’s always lots of paperwork to do, and much of their time is spent doing it.

As for the OP’s question, I’d imagine it’s what others have said: firefighters respond to fires and car accidents and maybe even EMS calls and the like, but by and large something needs to happen before their skills are really of any use. A police officer, on the other hand, is expected to be proactive: part of their job description is to try to deter crime, not just to respond to crime that has already been committed. Add in the fact that another part of police work may include trying to find people who would much prefer not to be found: that’s a job description which doesn’t lend itself to much sitting quietly in an office. A cop sitting in his car doing paperwork at 2 AM in the 7-11 parking lot can help to deter a would-be thief; a firetruck parked in the same situation won’t deter the Slurpee machine from shorting out and catching on fire.

@OP : Would you rather firemen start their own fires, so they have fires to put out ? Or EMTs go around with baseball bats to keep emergency medical situations at a constant ? :wink:

Several years ago, some people on my street found their cars ticketed one morning for being parked facing the wrong way. The time on the tickets was about 3 a.m.

Apparently there is no downtime for the NYPD. They have a ticket and arrest quota per shift: 20 tickets and one arrest per shift.

Actual story link.

I like the official response to the accusation:

Since when do cops have a productivity goal? I would hate to ask an NYPD cop for assistance if they are still short on their shift quota.

Thanks for your input. I wonder, then, why it’s not possible for their employers (for example, the city) to give them other work to do while they’re not busy, work that would not compromise their ability to respond to a fire just as quickly.

I guess I’m confounded by my friend’s ability to brag about how excited he is to go to work because he gets to play in the “finals” of his hall’s ping pong tournament.

While firefighters are pretty much universally based at fire stations there’s a lot of variation in how ambulances are deployed. For example, where I work, we do 4- 10 hour shifts each week. At the beginning of our shift, we have 15 minutes to check out our equipment and our ambulance, check in with dispatch, and go in service. From there, we get assigned to a post, which could be anywhere in the city. Generally, we stay at that post until we get a call or we get moved to another post. When we run a call, we’re assigned to another post once we’re finished. At the end of the shift, we have about 30 minutes to clean and restock our ambulance. There’s a little bit of downtime during a shift, but generally not too much. A typical shift is about 7-8 calls in 10 hours. My personal best is 23/10 hours. For all practical purposes, we spend about 10 hours in the ambulance every day.

Some services will do interfacility transports as well. These calls are typically hospital to hospital, or hospital to nursing home and get worked in between 911 calls.

I’m not aware of any ambulance services that do any sort of patrols.

St. Urho

They have to stay near their firehouse and equipment so they can respond to a fire as quickly as possible. So what kind of work would you have them doing? Taking in laundry?

This seems to represent a mindset of accepting defeat. A quota policy of requiring a mandatory number of tickets and arrest every day is apparently accepting the existence of crime and is simplying reacting to the offenses that occur every day. I’d rather see a police department taking the stance that their goal is to reduce crimes.

If you’ve ever been in a fire hall, you’ll see that everything is clean, organized and well kept. If they don’t have training or paperwork to do, they clean the hall. Once that’s done…what else are they supposed to do? Clean again? Re-roll the hoses? Redo paperwork?

I understand your question, but there really isn’t anything for them to do once they’ve done their shift tasks. If you are in a slow hall, you have lots of free time. Alternatively, in busy halls, they work damn hard for the entire 24 hour / 14 hour / 10 hour shift (depending on you city’s schedule).

Speakin’ 'o which : Got a $115.00 ticket for double parking this morning at 6:30 on my way to work when I went into a deli to get coffee. OUCH! Man that hurt. That was an expensive coffee! Sorry, just needed to vent. Well, democracy is safe for another day from the menace of those early morning double parkers!
Cops giving out tickets are a obviously major source of revenue for a city, another reason for them to be out all the time, firefighters not really. The ping pong tournament mentioned (or just the very IDEA of it) & many other perks are some of the many reasons why firefighter jobs are so highly coveted, (not to mention retirement at 1/2 pay after 20 years) & people wait years on civil service lists to get on. Here in NYC you’ll frequently see them hanging out in Central Park, down by Rockaway Beach, wherever, the thought being as long as they’re in radio range & have the equipment with them, the’re as close to a potential emergency as they would be anywhere else. They can also trade shifts w/ each other so they only work two straight days or something, allowing alot of them to have second jobs. Nice deal in many ways. Of course when they do have to work it’s hugely important and dangerous, & God bless 'em all for that!

How much time does the average office worker spend screwing around on the internet? Every job has its downtime, the only reason firefighters are different is because it’s not as easy to look busy when someone walks by.

My sister worked for the local Humane Society several years ago, and told me about patrolling the neighboring city across the river and listening to their police radio frequency. That city only ever had 2 officers on patrol, at night anyway, and most of the communications she heard were along the lines of, “Anything happening at your end of town?” “Nope. You?” “Nope.” :stuck_out_tongue:

When my dad was a cop he’d occasionally be asked while writing a ticket, “So, made your quota today?” And his canned response was, “We don’t have a quota. I’m allowed to write as many as I want.” OTOH, he had an unofficial policy of letting people off if they a) told him the truth or b) gave him an excuse he’d never heard before (assuming, in either case, that the violation was minor and/or not a danger to others). He was in the State Patrol department that dealt with commercial trucks, and he told the story of the time he caught a trucker sneaking around the weigh station. He pulled the guy over and asked, “So, what’cha doing out here?”

The driver said, “You aren’t going to believe this …”

And my dad said, “Go ahead, that’s what I came to hear.”

The driver said, “Well, I’m overloaded.”

“Huh. You’re not going down to try out that fantastic coffee at the cafe over there?”


“You’re not visiting a relative?”

“Nope. I’m just overloaded.”

“How far do you have to go?”

“Couple more miles.”

“All right, get going.”

“You’re not giving me a ticket?”

“Nope, you’re the first guy I’ve caught down here who’s told me the truth!”

There’s an interesting book, “Cops: Their Lives in Their Own Words” that has stories from forces huge and small, all anonymous.

One quoted cop says something to the effect of, “I get crap for not having turned in as many parking tickets and other ticky tack stuff, but no one wants to quantify the fact that I’ve cleared out the obnoxious teenagers from in front of the candy store, the kids are playing on the sidewalks again on my beat, etc. Public relations and good will doesn’t go on the log books or cause fines to be paid.”