The role and services of firefighters has changed greatly over the last few decades. Now, they work as emergency medical personnel on 98% of their calls, rarely responding to actual fires.

According to a Grand Jury report that was recently released, firefighters for the Orange County Fire Authority responded to 88,227 calls in 2010. Only two percent were for fires or explosions. They turned out units for medical emergencies, and ‘other’ scenarios such as hazmat calls or car accidents.

The Grand Jury called for the OCFA to hire an outside fire consultant to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses in the department, including response times, types of calls, and make recommendations to improve the system.

From the OC Register:

The image of the gallant firefighter rushing into a blazing building to rescue its terrified occupants  is an endearing and enduring one — based more on lore than on current workloads, assertsa new report by the Orange County grand jury.

Once upon a time, fire departments were mainly in the business of putting out fires. But that was many decades ago: Less than 2 percent of theOrange County Fire Authority’s calls were to fire emergencies last year, the grand jury found.

Read the full article here.