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The report calls for a 50% in-crease in funding for the National Fire Academy, expanding the number of classes, restoring personnel lost to budget cuts, and possibly moving FEMA's Emergency Management Institute to another location so that more housing will be available for the Fire Academy's students. There never have been enough rooms to accommodate the number of qualified firefighters who applied for the advanced courses that are available only at the academy.
Unfortunately, there's not enough space in this column to cover all 34 recommendations. That will be done in future issues of Firehouse® and I've only hit a few of the high points. In my view, the Blue Ribbon Panel has done a superb job that deserves the thanks and support of the fire-rescue service.
Now come the crucial questions of which recommendations will be implemented and how fast FEMA Director Witt intends to act? The Blue Ribbon Panel that he appointed has given him an excellent report that offers a practical plan to immediately save what's left of the federal fire programs. And, it provides a long-range blueprint to rebuild for the future. If Witt acts boldly, the beneficiaries will be the nation's fire departments, their firefighters, and - most important - the citizens whose lives and property they protect.