Week 5 Forum – Demographics
According to Dr. Kevin McCarthy, senior social scientist at the RAND Corporation, the U.S. population will grow steadily over the next 25 years by about 1 percent, or 3 million people, per year. Immigration will account for 40 percent of this growth, with the Asian and Hispanic portion of the overall population growing from 22 to 34 percent.
After reading Chapter 7 in your textbook as well as the supplemental reading, Forces of Change, and completing your own research, write a post that answers the following:
1. Explain how the anticipated demographic trends in the United States may impact fire services in your community.
2. What is your fire department doing to deal with the demographic changes in your community? If you are not with a fire department, then discuss what your local department has done to keep up with these demographic changes.
It’s really weird how this class and my Capstone class topics keep lining up. I just got done writing a forum response on how my department needs to integrate Hispanics and other immigrants into the department.
My small town in Adams County PA is known in the area for apple production. Motts, Lucky Leaf, Mussleman, and a few others are grown and processed in my county. With the large number of farms in the area that sustain the apple production there is a growing Hispanic and Latino population. A couple decades ago this workforce was largely migratory, but with technology improvement and the availability of year round work, many of settled in the area. For the most part they have developed their own community and stick to themselves. On of the issues my fire department is running into is that for an unknown reason, we don’t have Hispanic, Latino or any other ethnic group volunteering in the fire department. We do fire prevention talks at the schools to a majority of non causation students, and we try to recruit but without success.
In reading an article by Tim Craig in the Washington Post, the author talks about how many immigrants don’t trust the fire department because the department is looked at like ICE and police are seen. Some illegals think that if they call for fire department services or are involved they will be deported. I like a quote in the article by a fire chief “It’s not a job to check papers, it’s our job to put out fires.” Now the only struggle is to get the message to those who have immigrated legally and illegally that the fire department isn’t going to deport you if something is going on. I view it similar to if a person is drunk or on drugs, I’m not the cops, I don’t care, but I need to know so we can treat you correctly and not make the situation worse.
Craig, T. (2018, June 1). Answering the call. Retrieved October 1, 2019, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/national/wp/2018/06/01/feature/answering-the-call/.
The demographic changes that occur in many communities throughout the United States need to be monitored when possible, reacted to when monitoring does not work, and kept in mind when any meetings occur that have anything to do with planning. Failure to utilize the information on these changes can easily put a department so far behind in organization and funding that it may be near impossible to catch up.
A large influx of non-English speaking immigrants into a community that uses only English will require staffing that can speak the language of these immigrants. Additionally, the raised number itself will increase the need for staffing as the amount of calls needing responses will most certainly increase. Community communications will also need to be altered to include the emergency service, or 911, operators to be bi-lingual and any printed and broadcast notices will need to be made bi-lingual as well. Cultural differences will need to be addressed, some newcomers may feel intimidated by contact with the fire department as they may see them as government officials, and that may bring into play other concerns such as the legal status of those needing the help.
I grew up in a community that was well integrated by the time I showed up, but other communities around me were not. When the racial divides between African Americans and White Americans began to shrink, the departments in those communities needed to have representation that reflected this. Departments began to hire accordingly and reflect the racial makeup of the communities they protected. Language was not generally a problem but there were some cultural differences that needed to be overcome, and in time most of them have been.
With any population change, department heads and the support systems that finance them need to remain aware of the social-economic changes that come with a fluctuating number of people. If a town loses a large percentage of people, it would be natural to think the cost of services may decrease. Yet the distances to reach those in need of help may also change, the amount of funding available to the community can go up with gentrification and other factors will at times not follow what would be expected. Surveys can assist with keeping track of what changes are occurring and where, and the smart planners will use this and any other tool they can grasp to maintain or improve the services being provided.