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.

Perhaps no one ever mentioned to him about the great things which have been accomplished by those people who received Fire Act grant funding. My friends in the Farmingdale, New Jersey Fire Department are now all wearing new, compliant turnout gear and self-contained breathing apparatus thanks to that money. The funds that would have been provided for those purposes by the Borough of Farmingdale were channeled into buy a new pumper. That is what the Fire Act is all about.

Perhaps no one sent him a copy of the article on which outlined the tremendous good works which we accomplished in Pennsylvania by the Assistance to Firefighters grant program. According to that story, Butler firefighters are buying a fire-prevention training robot, volunteers in Kilbuck are replacing 30-year-old breathing devices, and the Springdale Township Volunteer Fire Department No. 1 is getting new helmets, coats, pants and gloves as well as a thermal imaging camera, which lets firefighters see through smoke.

"I felt like we had just won the Super Bowl," Kilbuck Fire Chief Jeff Fink said of the federal dollars. Much of his department's equipment has been hand-me-downs from larger fire companies, he said.

Yet in spite of these great successes, which are mirrored in every state in the union, the administration insists on slashing our Fire Act money and zero-budgeting the SAFER program. It is difficult to understand their reasoning for cutting the funding of such a successful program.

My friends the actual button which connects to the true weapons of fiscal mass destruction within our world is held within the hands of our legislators. We need to convince them to throw away that button device. We need to start locally, with our own Member of Congress and then build up to a full-court press at the national level.

Perhaps the late Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill was right. All politics is local. We all need to step to the next level of political action. Maybe you and I should join hands for an assault on the system. Think about it. I know I am.

We can only succeed if we work together. We can only do this if we keep our eyes on the prize: the prize of full funding for the Fire Act and for SAFER.

See you in Washington.