The Budget Debates Continue

Even as many local and state budgets have begun to stabilize, fire departments continue to find themselves in the middle of discussions by elected officials and other policy-makers relating to future funding – and they always will. Since 2008 (and...


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11. Are training, maintenance, pre-planning, physical training, community involvement and other non-emergency activities valued by city leadership?

12. Do city leaders value the input of organizations like the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and others?

13. Does the city recognize national fire department deployment standards?

14. How much value is placed on fire department accreditation?

15. Do city leaders use only comparably sized cities and fire departments to analyze issues and make comparisons?

16. How much emphasis do city leaders place on maintaining the overall effectiveness of the fire department when making budget decisions?

17. Are decision-makers aware that most cities who have tried consolidating fire and police operations have abandoned the model due to ineffectiveness?

18. Is a positive and productive relationship between labor and management a priority in the decision-making process?

19. Does the city participate in federal fire service grant programs like FIRE and SAFER?

20. Has the city embraced fire service-based EMS, including the transportation component, as a possible revenue source?

Exploring the issues

These questions are not intended to be sarcastic or defensive in any way. The point is this: When involved in such a modern-day political debate, which can have real operational consequences on the fire department and the community, it is important that the issues are explored from a broad perspective and that the discussion is appropriately framed for those involved as decision-makers.

The answers to these questions could improve the quality of the public discussion and the decisions that emerge as a result. The budget debates will continue. Perhaps the answers to these questions (and others) will be helpful and add value to the process in some way.

DENNIS COMPTON, a Firehouse® contributing editor, is a speaker and the author of Progressive Leadership Principles, Concepts and Tools, the When in Doubt, Lead! books, the book Mental Aspects of Performance for Firefighters and Fire Officers, and many articles, chapters and other publications. He was the fire chief in Mesa, AZ, for five years and assistant fire chief in Phoenix, where he served for 27 years. Compton is past chairman of the Executive Board of the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA) and past chairman of the Congressional Fire Services Institute’s National Advisory Committee. He is currently chairman of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Board of Directors.