Are you angry yet? I'm beginning to fume. It seems to be open season on the fire-EMS service. First, it is the ongoing firefighter job cuts throughout the United States. Next, a consulting firm comes out with a report saying that firefighting and cancer are not related. And the third blow is a...
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Lastly, want something else to get angry about? The Heritage Foundation, which describes itself as a conservative think tank promoting public policy through research and analysis based on free enterprise and limited government, has asked Congress to stop funding The Assistance to Firefighters Grant and the SAFER Grant programs because, it contends, the funding has not led to fewer firefighter deaths, firefighter injuries, civilian deaths and civilian injuries. How wrong they are! Tell this to the firefighter who is wearing new turnout gear and a new self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) because his or her department received the funding. How about the firefighter who is now riding in an enclosed cab because a grant let the department get rid of old apparatus and get a new one? Are these firefighters safer? I would think so. How about the civilian who was saved from a fire because a grant put more apparatus and firefighters on the scene for a first-alarm assignment? Is this civilian safer? I would think so.
The days certainly are gone when shortly after the tragedy of 9/11, firefighters and the fire service were treated with the respect they deserve. How soon those who advocate cutting our numbers, those who believe there is no link between cancer and firefighter, and those who want to take federal money away from the fire service have forgotten the 9/11 sacrifices and all the other firefighters who have made sacrifices.
GARY LUDWIG, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a deputy fire chief with the Memphis, TN, Fire Department. He has 30 years of fire-rescue service experience. Ludwig is chairman of the EMS Section for the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), has a master's degree in business and management, and is a licensed paramedic. He is a frequent speaker at EMS and fire conferences nationally and internationally, and can be reached through his website at www.garyludwig.com.