I had a column ready for this month but then some news came to me far too important to not be addressed. This news affects the safety of ALL members of the fire service-paid, volunteer, EMS, big city or small. The National Fire Academy budget has been slashed by 11%, which in 6-month terms means an actuarial rate of 22%. This has equated to over 30 resident courses so far.
On September 11, 2001 343 members of the FDNY proved what had been said many times before the fire and EMS members would be killed first in WMD or terrorists incidents. The window was open for the fire service to receive its just rewards for offering such a huge sacrifice to prove a point. Apparently that window has slammed shut with this type of behavior as the nails.
I know of no fire department, which gained personnel as a result of 911. I know of not one fire department riding with more members on its apparatus. We are still killing firefighters at the type of incidents we respond to on a daily basis and too often real rescues are not occurring.
We all speculate how the Department of Justice/Police always seem to get the lion share of the money being spread around. We whine that someone must be sabotaging the fire service to get this done. We rail against the ungrateful citizenry who won't spring for this or that for the fire service. The realties are no matter where we go to speak the fire department/Ems is being cut. Last week I was in Houston, Texas speaking to refinery guys and you know what? Yeah they are being cut too. Even though an attack against their industry would be devastating.
The problem is we bonded briefly after 911 but then returned to our normal habits of in fighting, verbal sabotage, and all out disintegration between paid versus volunteers and fire versus EMS. When is the last time the cops fought each other in the media. If you think all of the media are presenting just the facts and all of them support the fire service, come to DC and watch the show. No, they are controlled by folks, who would just as soon give the cops the whole show, meanwhile doing it over our dead and broken bodies. In too many cases it is members of our own fraternity who make this happen. It doesn't matter whether the police chief and the union don't like each other it rarely makes the paper. Internal political battles aren't for public spectacle. No, while we wrestle with each other for scraps on the floor the cops get the meat on the table.
Remember, 100% of ALL fire and EMS calls were mitigated completely yesterday and today. Meanwhile maybe you have a 20% chance of having your killer caught and convicted. If your property was stolen maybe it might come back. They are rewarded for ineptness while we fight each other and get nothing.
What can be done you ask? In the time it took for you to read this article you can email or write your congressman demanding that they right this wrong. Tell them you won't stand for cuts to the only federal facility providing the fire service with training.In EVERY after action report involving fatalities and near misses the word training is used for preventive measures. If we don't stop this here and now the lives of those lost on 911 and the equivalent every 3 years has been for nothing. Put down your pettiness for a few minutes and for the sake of all of us make a difference. It won't matter to complain after it has been done. Write now! The folks at the NFA can't help themselves but we all can. The cuts so far have impacted all the members of our service. Come together and Stay Safe.