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  1. #1
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    Default Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Bill Manning's editorial in this month's Fire Engineering says that Bush's proposed budget cuts all federal funding for USAR teams.

    I find this fascinating, given his purported stance on homeland security. Care to discuss?


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    Default Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by OneL1L
    Bill Manning's editorial in this month's Fire Engineering says that Bush's proposed budget cuts all federal funding for USAR teams.

    I find this fascinating, given his purported stance on homeland security. Care to discuss?
    I don't know enough about it to really discuss it in depth, but I can guess at a couple of things. Is the funding for the teams to come from somewhere else...say, from DHS? Or local / regional sources (which has always made a lot more sense to me)? There seems to be some mising information here. The fact that it's being removed from one budget doesn't necessarily mean it's being cut altogether. I could certainly get behind regionalizing or localizing funding. Local funding = greater local control and better coordination of budgeting priorities.

    Also - homeland security, to me, has always meant engaging terrorism and investigating / preventing terrorism, rather than cleaning up after an attack. It's not security if you've failed to prevent the WMD attack. That's why I believe all these arguments about "Bush doesn't support homeland security because he's not paying for our new digital radios and decon showers" are straw men. If you get to the point where you need the decon shower, then homeland security has failed.

    Let's get some more info on this - anyone have some details?
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

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    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    Default Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by BucksEng91
    I could certainly get behind regionalizing or localizing funding. Local funding = greater local control and better coordination of budgeting priorities.
    If these teams are expected to respond nationally (and even internationally) as they did for the WTC, why should the funding come from local sources?
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Here is a link to an article on a recent announcment by the DHS Secretary Tom Ridge on a Homeland Security Funding Task Force that is being formed to examine the funding process to look at and identify local funding issues and solutions. The task force is to be composed of governors, mayors, county officials and other senior officials with experience in homeland security issues. The purpose of the task force is to identify state and local funding solutions to speed the flow of grant funds to first responders.

    http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interap...lease_0372.xml


    As it happens, this is part of the topic of the paper I am currently writing. I have more resources but I do not want to put all of you to sleep on a Sunday afternoon.

    ps. I have not read the article in Fire Engineering. I will have to try and get a copy of it as I do not get the magazine but I thought this information was along the lines of what you were looking for.

    Cheffie

    Last edited by superchef; 03-21-2004 at 04:44 PM.

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    Forum Member BucksEng91's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by WTFD10


    If these teams are expected to respond nationally (and even internationally) as they did for the WTC, why should the funding come from local sources?
    Because their primary response area is local/regional. We're not, thank God, going to have a 9/11 every month. While there may be an "expectation" that a team may have to respond nationally, it's just not going to happen with the regularity that would justify "national" funding.

    My reasoning is really three-fold. First, it is just not reasonable to me to take money from my family here on the east coast, and send it to a team out west that will NEVER, in a thousand years, be dispatched to my little township. And I have some understanding of emergency service funding needs; try to convince my neighbor, who knows little about the subject, that his tax money is well spent by sending it out of our region, never to be seen again.

    The funding for that USAR team should come from its primary response area, and if the team should have to respond out of area, then the "customer" region should pay the team's costs for that response. To me, that's eminently more reasonable.

    Second, local/regional funding is always preferable to state or national sources. Who better than local authorities to set budget priorities, knowing and responding to your individual and unique challenges and needs? It doesn't make sense to me to have some administrator worlds away from your area, with no real knowledge of your operations, who has never even VISITED your area, and who has at best a cursory understanding of your needs and unique challenges, in charge of any aspect of your funding. Why give up any of that autonomy? Plus, have you ever known any state or federal funds that came unencumbered with regulations, rules, and restrictions? Why saddle your administration with that?

    Finally, local funding means optimum accountability. If your local authorities are uncooperative or obstructionist in meeting your funding needs, an exponentially larger amount of political pressure can be brought to bear on them than on some faceless bureaucrat in Washington, or on the federal government. It's just human nature - people who live 800 miles away, as harsh as it sounds, couldn't possibly care less that your equipment is getting older when they have their own local and regional issues to worry about. But the guy who lives in your primary response area, whose family's safety may someday depend on the quality of your equipment and ability to respond effectively, is going to care a lot. So which person do you think it will be easier to sway to your point of view?

    That all said, I don't know what the situation is in the case of the editorial the first poster referenced. But I wouldn't be at all unhappy if the President's budget shifted responsibility for funding emergency services onto more localized entities.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    I have to partially disagree with you Bucks -- and normally I'm an anti-federalist on public safety.

    I think it's reasonable the original FEMA USAR Task Forces continue federal level, and perhaps the addition of a few additional units. These are the national level teams to come in 24-48 hours after the incident. Actually I'd like to see a bit of expansion, to allow more Task Forces internationally available -- they are a good PR tool, and it brings that much more experience back home.

    Localities still need to assess their own needs & capabilities for first response, and the State level can provide equipment & specialty knowledge for the teams in the 8-24 deployment range.

    Quite frankly, few local/regional areas of the U.S. would ever develop any experience beyond reading SOGs every couple of weeks to be capable of pulling off effective operations.

    Matt
    IACOJ Canine Officer
    20/50

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    I've heard alot of Bush doing this and doing that but I haven't heard much good come of all of it when it comes down to the Fire Services. I also haven't seen what Kerry could do...yes he has the union endorsment. But in the end I don't want this to be another case of 'meet the new boss same as the old boss'

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    Originally posted by Dalmatian90
    I have to partially disagree with you Bucks -- and normally I'm an anti-federalist on public safety....

    Quite frankly, few local/regional areas of the U.S. would ever develop any experience beyond reading SOGs every couple of weeks to be capable of pulling off effective operations.

    Matt
    Dal -

    Then we'll just have to agree to disagree, I guess. I fail to see what 'national' level funding does for you that local money can't except make you beholden to the federal bureacracy. The money is still green; if your training and experience are not up to snuff, then no amount of money (even that special 'national' kind) is going to help.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    Default Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by BucksEng91


    Also - homeland security, to me, has always meant engaging terrorism and investigating / preventing terrorism, rather than cleaning up after an attack. It's not security if you've failed to prevent the WMD attack. That's why I believe all these arguments about "Bush doesn't support homeland security because he's not paying for our new digital radios and decon showers" are straw men. If you get to the point where you need the decon shower, then homeland security has failed.
    Bucks,

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this point. I do agree that prevention/investigation is the major task of homeland security, but, I also believe that mitigation and clean up is also a security function, to a lesser degree. While a terrorist act may only impact one small area I believe without mitigation the ripple effect could cause further homeland security issues.
    I dont think that the federal government should be in the habit of funding local responses, but if a team was organized by the federal government, and is expected to respond at their whim, I would expect a portion of their operating budget to be funded by the Feds.
    I know I am not the best at explaining myself in writing, but I hope I got my point across adequately. If not I will try better next time.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by Lewiston2Capt


    Bucks,

    I am going to have to disagree with you on this point. I do agree that prevention/investigation is the major task of homeland security, but, I also believe that mitigation and clean up is also a security function, to a lesser degree. While a terrorist act may only impact one small area I believe without mitigation the ripple effect could cause further homeland security issues.
    I dont think that the federal government should be in the habit of funding local responses, but if a team was organized by the federal government, and is expected to respond at their whim, I would expect a portion of their operating budget to be funded by the Feds.
    I know I am not the best at explaining myself in writing, but I hope I got my point across adequately. If not I will try better next time.
    Hi Shawn -

    Heck, I think you got your point across just fine. I just disagree with it.

    We are NOT the first line of defense against terrorist attack. In fact, we're no line at all. We're there to make a horrible situation a little less horrible. The fact that the situation is caused by the willfull and evil acts other human beings rather than by an act of nature or a mistake, or an accident is immaterial. It doesn't change the nature of what we do, or how we do it.

    And believe me, I'm not minimizing what we do. Thank God for all of the people who choose this as a career, paid or unpaid. But the money looks and spends the same whether it comes from national or local sources, and because of that I fail to see why people get so worked up about "national" funding. Is it really that important to you that the money come from FEMA rather than your local emergency management agency? So important that you're willing to make yourself beholden to onerous federal regulations, give up a measure of autonomy in your planning and training, and have your money supply controlled by a guy in DC who has never even seen your little part of the world, let alone understand its unique challenges?

    No thank you. Unless the federal money is somehow magically worth more (say, 2 federal bucks for every local 1), I'm just not seeing how it's better. Educate me.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    Forum Member Lewiston2FF's Avatar
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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by BucksEng91


    Hi Shawn -

    Heck, I think you got your point across just fine. I just disagree with it.

    We are NOT the first line of defense against terrorist attack. In fact, we're no line at all. We're there to make a horrible situation a little less horrible. The fact that the situation is caused by the willfull and evil acts other human beings rather than by an act of nature or a mistake, or an accident is immaterial. It doesn't change the nature of what we do, or how we do it.

    And believe me, I'm not minimizing what we do. Thank God for all of the people who choose this as a career, paid or unpaid. But the money looks and spends the same whether it comes from national or local sources, and because of that I fail to see why people get so worked up about "national" funding. Is it really that important to you that the money come from FEMA rather than your local emergency management agency? So important that you're willing to make yourself beholden to onerous federal regulations, give up a measure of autonomy in your planning and training, and have your money supply controlled by a guy in DC who has never even seen your little part of the world, let alone understand its unique challenges?

    No thank you. Unless the federal money is somehow magically worth more (say, 2 federal bucks for every local 1), I'm just not seeing how it's better. Educate me.
    I guess to answer your first question, about the importance of the money coming from FEMA. I would suppose that if the local EMO could be counted on to dispurse the money properly, I know that is our problem, then no I dont think it would be. But generally FEMA has more money to play with, and if they organized the team then they should help pay for it.
    As far as why the feds should help pay for homeland security mitigation and clean up sector (I just made that up, sounds good doesnt it ) my thinking is that if Niagara Falls is hit with a WMD the mitigation of its impact would prevent people in Boston Mass, NYC, PA, and elsewhere from being impacted by the same event. I look at the "Great blackout of August 2003", at first it was thought that it was the Niagara Hydroelectric plant that caused it. Niagara Falls generates a lot of power for the northeast should the prevention/investigation measures breakdown and an attack on the power authority occur, the mitigation of the event through whatever means, will ensure minimal impact to the rest of the northeast.
    But, thats just how I look at it.
    Shawn M. Cecula
    Firefighter
    IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS

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    I'm new to the whole world of fire service and I learn so much each day and with each call. I know that USAR was at the pittsburg church fire but what is there reason to exsist overall?

    thanks

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    Default Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Federal funding of USAR teams gone under Bush budget?

    Originally posted by Lewiston2Capt


    I guess to answer your first question, about the importance of the money coming from FEMA. I would suppose that if the local EMO could be counted on to dispurse the money properly, I know that is our problem, then no I dont think it would be. But generally FEMA has more money to play with, and if they organized the team then they should help pay for it.
    As far as why the feds should help pay for homeland security mitigation and clean up sector (I just made that up, sounds good doesnt it ) my thinking is that if Niagara Falls is hit with a WMD the mitigation of its impact would prevent people in Boston Mass, NYC, PA, and elsewhere from being impacted by the same event. I look at the "Great blackout of August 2003", at first it was thought that it was the Niagara Hydroelectric plant that caused it. Niagara Falls generates a lot of power for the northeast should the prevention/investigation measures breakdown and an attack on the power authority occur, the mitigation of the event through whatever means, will ensure minimal impact to the rest of the northeast.
    But, thats just how I look at it.
    Good points. I still disagree, but you do argue convincingly. Regarding the problems you have with funding at the local level - don't you think, realistically, that you have more control there at the local level, whatever your difficulties are?

    I guess my point is this - you are not going to be able really to sway or affect the amount of money you get from FEMA, or affect the regulations and restrictions FEMA puts on you as a condition of getting that money. You take what they're going to give you, and if you don't like it, tough.

    At the local level, you can reach the political power base much more effectively. To steal an example I used in another posting, let a father of two small kids know that your local municipality is funding your emergency services at an inadequate level that could affect the safety of his children's lives. Get that kind of campaign going, and I'd hazard a guess that you could change the funding mix to your advantage.

    "homeland security mitigation and clean up sector ": Love it; I have to find a setting to use this term in a sentence.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    Like I said I don't know exactly what USAR does but isn't it more important that our local money goes for local services? What is the chance that each town is going to have a 9-11 but each town will have its 4 alarm fire. IF we sent all our money out to the nation and have no funds to handle something down the street form the station what does that leave us?

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    USAR Teams were formed as a result of the earthquake in Mexico City and the earthquakes in California. The powers that be realized that special equipment and training was needed to rescue victims from the collapse of heavy construction. Fire Departments could effect a rescue from the typical wood framed dwelling but did not have the equipment to rescue those pinned under heavier construction such as re-inforced concrete. Many FEMA USAR teams are not associated with any one fire department. All of the California teams are, VA Beach, Metro-Dade and I can't remember what others. New Jersey has formed it's own team and I know RI and CT are forming their own. They will be used as state resources but I know that NJ was used in the WTC Collapse. Local teams responded to two of the latest collapses in this country. The NJ team responded to the parking garage collapse in Atlantic City and the PA team responded to the Church Collapse in Pittsburgh.
    Once activated, FEMA teams have 6 hours to mobilize and respond. It takes a Declaration from the President for them to go as a Federal Team. They can respond as a local resource if located nearby, as was the case at the Silo incident I think in Kansas.
    A fact that could kill the national funding. Other than the teams being used as a state resource in California, I don't believe any FEMA team has responded as a Federal Resource and rescued a live victim, in this country. I believe that the VA team has made several rescues over seas.

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    MembersZone Subscriber MalahatTwo7's Avatar
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    I am not real familiar with the way that the US does its funding for the USAR units, but I do have some thoughts on the concept in general.

    I read through Cheffie's link and through the thoughts posted here as well, and found that I maintained the same ideas throughout. In Canada, we have USAR teams located more or less centrally in each province. Locally Victoria is home to a USAR unit, however the main branch is in Vancouver. Funding for all units is both a municipal AND a federal activity. As I understand it from talking to the people who coordinated my LUSAR training a few years ago (pre-1/11) they indicated that the local government seems to be mostly responsible for most of the funding for day to day operations, but that the Feds also provide input, primarily in the way of ensuring compatibility of training and gear. They also get a lot of their operating funds by donation as well. An example of this, is the office and storage area was rent free, from the City of Victoria Municipal yard.

    The joys of having a USAR team is that their main intent is not to "be there when YOU need them", but to be there when the city next door needs them. Therefore, mobility is a big issue for them. As we have seen in recent history, most FEMA/USAR teams that react to a major incident do not usually come from the local area of the event, but from outside that region.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is:

    1) USAR teams are an important part of the national emergency resource list;

    2) they should be funded both locally and federally; and

    3) they need to be extremely well trained and mobile; (as cfdeng3 said, they need to move out in 6hrs or less)

    As for whether the emergency services as a whole belong to "Homeland Security" or not... well that's a whole new kettle of fish, but I will leave it with one statement:

    We are the folks who are out on the street all the time, and we see things that others would not... if we see something out of place and ignore it ......????
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Forum Member BucksEng91's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MalahatTwo7
    2) they should be funded both locally and federally; and

    .....

    As for whether the emergency services as a whole belong to "Homeland Security" or not... well that's a whole new kettle of fish, but I will leave it with one statement:

    We are the folks who are out on the street all the time, and we see things that others would not... if we see something out of place and ignore it ......????
    Isn't that what police and intelligence agencies are for? Come on, now we're really reaching, if we're going to call ourselves the first line of defense in homeland security just because we happen to be "out on the street" at times? How about delivery drivers? Are they the first line of defense too? Postal workers? They see the same things every day too - if they see something out of whack and call it in, should they be identified as an integral part of homeland security?

    Don't mean to sound so critical. I know what we do is incredibly important. The main reasons that I object to this characterization of firefighters and EMS as "homeland security" is that it's often used to either make partisan political attacks, or to justify huge swaths of federal money being infused in certain select local emergency services organizations. We're "homeland rescue", or "homeland cleanup", but we have little or nothing to do with securing the homeland, unless they're going to start issuing us SAWs and M-16s and have us begin patrolling the borders and nuclear power plants.

    I don't WANT the Feds pouring tons of money into local and regional emergency services that should be funded locally and regionally. I DO want them pouring money into, and concentrating on killing terrorists before they even make it over here, or ferretting out the ones already here and PREVENTING the need to call us out to make a horrible situation a little less horrible.

    Am I making sense, or am I rambling at this point?
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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    amen brother
    Bucks County, PA.

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    Actually Buck, when I made reference to "WE", I was thinking the "Queen Victoria" WE... as in WE, the emergency responders, meaning fire, EMS, and police.

    I see your point, and it is a valid one, but for one thing:

    most regions don't have the money or the local resources to take on a full scale USAR activation (stand-up and train/equip) for potential call out somewhere in the country.

    Sadly though, I must recind a few points I made earlier.... I checked the local Provincial Emergency Preparedness (PEP) and Office of Critical Infrastructure and Emergency Preparedness (OCI PEP) sites. I thought that they were the Provincial and Federal entities that would handle any given disaster either natural or man-made. Unfortunately while it is true they do conduct those functions, I found they do not "talk to each other". I found that to be a very sad concept. It looks like you folks south of the border have a much better grip on this whole idea.

    These are the sites:

    www.pep.bc.ca

    and

    www.ocipep.gc.ca/home/index_e.asp
    If you don't do it RIGHT today, when will you have time to do it over? (Hall of Fame basketball player/coach John Wooden)

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    Get it up. Get it on. Get it done!

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    Forum Member BucksEng91's Avatar
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    Originally posted by MalahatTwo7
    Actually Buck, when I made reference to "WE", I was thinking the "Queen Victoria" WE... as in WE, the emergency responders, meaning fire, EMS, and police.

    I see your point, and it is a valid one, but for one thing:

    most regions don't have the money or the local resources to take on a full scale USAR activation (stand-up and train/equip) for potential call out somewhere in the country.
    Gotcha. I understand the point you're trying to make, and I agree that some localities may not have sufficient funds to take on funding a USAR team. However, the reason that they don't have the necessary funds is that those localities presumably have little taxable infrastructure / businesses / residences / etc., making a USAR team superfluous. You don't need a USAR team to rescue 10 cows from a barn collapse, basically.

    That's why I propose that it be regionalized, along metropolitan region lines. The northeastern US, for example, could easily support a regional USAR team, as could southern Cali, northern Cali, etc.
    "Let's roll." - Todd Beamer, one of a group of American soldiers who handed the terrorists their first defeat.

    Joe Black

    The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone (but you can borrow them )and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated (but then again, they just may not be thinking clearly).

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