Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

My friends, it is time to ask you all to come together in a special way. Once again it is time for me to write about the Fire Act funding levels that have been set forth for next years federal budget.

My friends, it is time to ask you all to come together in a special way. Once again it is time for me to write about the Fire Act funding levels that have been set forth for next years federal budget. Here we are, right in the middle of the 2006 grant application period, and I am calling upon you to begin the campaign to create a better understanding in Congress about the importance of the Fire Act grant funding for next year.

This is also an appropriate time to mention that the annual pilgrimage to Washington is coming up next week. The Fire Caucus dinner is being held at the Washington Hilton on Thursday evening April 6. People from around the country are coming together to celebrate who we are and what we do.

This is the time for each of us to step up to the plate and begin battling for the federal funding that has already been signed into law. We all need to focus on creating one single message for this battle. We want the Congress of the United States to fully fund the legislation that is already on the books. Forget about what we have gotten (or not gotten) and push for what we were granted by law.

Let's not fight with each other. We need to focus here. This is not a career fire service issue. This is not a volunteer fire service issue. My friends this is an issue for the entire fire service. This problem has the potential to have an impact on each and every one of you.

It bothers me that we end up having to fight for additional funding every year. However, such are the ways of the world in Washington, DC. Just when we thought that we were out of the woods and headed for greater funding and success we see a retrenchment on the part of the current administration. This bothers me and I want to do something about it.

Guess what? I really hope it bothers you too. The administration in Washington has once again determined that other things are more important than you and I are. We see money that should be headed our way moving to other places. It seems as though the needs of the rest of the world have been deemed more important than you and me.

Over the past few days I have read many different messages discussing the proposed cuts to the Fire Act Program, the non-funding of the SAFER program for fire service staffing. This is an extremely critical issue for all of us, but we cannot go at this problem with a fractured effort.

We need to stay on message and that message is the money. The message is not the bashing of the President. The message is not the bashing of Congress. The message is really quite simple. Please give us the money that you said you were going to give us. No half measures please.

Isn't it ironic that in the middle of this year's Fire Act application period we are already faced with cuts for the coming year? There is some missing logic at work here. Let me see if I can add some logic to the middle of all of this federal fiscal finagling. Let me see if I can get it straight so that you and I can understand what is happening.

Let me now attempt to speak for our government. I will try to translate their convoluted logic so that we can all agree on how best to begin our campaign to fully fund the Fire Act and SAFER program funding. Here is my translation of what I think the government is saying to us.

We (your government) love you and deeply appreciate what you do for our great nation. However we (your government) have less to give you this year. Now we (your government) want to get the word out so that far more of you can apply for the far less that is available. We want to be sure that more of you apply for the largess of the federal government that has been shrunken over time.

I am sorry my friends, but I am just a bit saddened by the need to constantly battle against those who fail to see the importance of the fire and emergency service world. It is with a great deal of personal satisfaction that I am able to reflect upon the fact that I have personally invested a great deal of time and effort into these important pieces of fire service legislation.

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