State Budget Woes threaten Utah Fire Academy
This is an article from the Salt Lake Tribune Tuesday Feb. 4, 2003.
PANEL HEARS IDEAS ON SAFETY FUNDING
by Elizabeth Neff
Salt Lake Tribune
A legislative appropriations committee heard suggestions Monday aimed at keeping the Department of Public Safety's budget from falling victim to massive cuts.
Legislative analysts recommended to members of the Executive Offices and Criminal Justice Appropriation Subcommittee that $2.1 million be slashed from the public safety budget.
Public Safety Commissioner Robert Flowers presented three budget scenarios to lawmakers -- the best of which included no layoffs but depended on allocation of more than $1 million from the passage of a bill increasing taxes on beer.
To avoid laying off as many as 15 troopers and three state investigators, on the chopping block are funds for such programs as the firefighter training school at Utah Valley State College in Orem.
While Flowers' plan suggested diverting money from that fund elsewhere, Committee Chairman Sen. D. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, suggested scrapping the $3 million program altogether. Buttars told other committee members he felt the main mission of public safety must be protected even at the expense of cutting other programs.
"It is our job to protect the core mission of our agencies," he said. "The core mission is to have those cops on the road and get them everything they need to do their jobs right."
The school, started in 1993 and funded through a tax on property insurance premiums, provides firefighting training for more than 5,800 firefighters statewide, over 90 percent of them volunteers.
Other money-saving suggestions floated during the committee meeting included relocating the Police Officer Standards and Training program to a new building, privatizing the state's motorcycle safety program, or raising some fees. The committee deferred a vote Monday in favor of gathering more information.
A few facts issued by the Utah Fire Rescue Academy on Tuesday Feb. 4, 2003....
Utah Fire and Rescue Academy
February 4, 2003
Funding for Utah Firefighters
Dear Emergency Service Personnel,
In response to the recent proposal from Committee Chairman Senator D. Chris Buttars (R-West Jordan), of eliminating funding to the Utah Fire and Rescue Academy, we would encourage you to call your legislative representative, and speak with your senator regarding this matter. In this morning’s Salt Lake Tribune, Senator Buttars is quoted saying "It is our job to protect the core mission of our agencies, (public safety). The core mission is to have cops on the road and get them everything they need to do their jobs right." Contrary to Senator Buttars’ opinion, UFRA firmly believes firefighting is at the core of public safety!
Below are a few facts your Senator or Representative may not be aware of.
Utah Fire and Rescue Academy provides:
-Fire training for the entire state of Utah
-21 certification levels for firefighters, as well as other safety personnel
-Outreach services for all fire departments
-In 2002, 9,000 safety personnel were trained including SWAT, Highway Patrol, Sheriff’s Dept., Search and Rescue, Fire, EMS, and other state agencies which utilized the Academy
-Volunteer firefighters which make up 85% of firefighter population in the state would have no training resources
-The fire service is the first line of defense for every emergency including homeland security. Without UFRA there will be little or no training for Utah’s first line of defense. Again, we encourage you to support firefighters statewide, and place a call to your local senator, and let him/her know without the Academy, firefighters and citizens and their safety would be compromised as a whole.