This should get some people fired up.
By Audrey Hudson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published April 21, 2006
Fire departments are using Homeland Security grants to buy gym equipment, sponsor puppet and clown shows, and turn first responders into fitness trainers.
The spending choices are allowable under the guidelines of the Assistance to Firefighters grant administered by the Homeland Security Department, which has awarded nearly 250 grants since February totaling more than $25 million out of the current spending pot of $545 million.
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff vowed to redirect grant spending based on risk of a terrorist attack, but Congress has ignored his pleas, federal officials say.
"The administration has not supported the funding for physical fitness equipment as part of the fire grant program," says Marc Short, Homeland Security spokesman. "Physical fitness is an individual responsibility."
The Bush administration has specifically asked Congress not to allow funding for physical fitness, but the members who run Congress' appropriation committees keep inserting the language into the department's budget, officials say.
The House last year passed the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act by a 409 to 10 vote to require several first responder grants be based on risk, however the firefighter grant was excluded from the legislation.
In Florida, the Plantation City Council recently voted to use its $28,000 grant for treadmills, stationary bikes and training machines for police and firefighters. The Crawfordsville Fire Department in Indiana is using its $55,000 to buy gym equipment, provide nutritional counseling and instruct firefighters on how to become fitness trainers.
Congress also requires 5 percent of the grant be spent on fire prevention funding, says Brian Cowan, director of the fire grants program.
Mr. Cowan says 18,000 applications for the current round of funding were reviewed by fire officials including fire chiefs, firefighters and association leaders, then recommendations are given to Homeland officials as to who should receive awards.
The LAFS for Life program which received a $69,000 grant, partners with the Des Moines, Iowa, fire department to teach fire safety through puppet and clown shows. The Onalaska Fire Department in Wisconsin also has an $8,000 grant for clowns and puppet shows, and Grants Pass in Oregon will use a $22,000 grant to buy an educational robot.
Virginia has been awarded the largest amount of funding through seven grants totaling $2,764,551; Washington, D.C., is second with three grants totaling $2,499,873; Massachusetts is third with $2,055,234; Indiana has eight grants totaling $2,040,064; and Maryland has five grants totaling $1,911,574.
The Home Safety Council in Washington won a $1 million grant to study safety education needs and to train officials to teach fire safety during its first "National Fire and Life Safety Education Best Practices Conference" this fall.
Other groups, such as the International Association of Firefighters and its burn foundation, received two grants for $1.5 million. A spokeswoman for the association, an AFL-CIO union, was asked how the grant will be used. She did not return the call.
The Haitian American Cultural and Social Organization, which provides breast cancer screening for low-income Haitian immigrants and illegal aliens, in Rockland County, N.Y., received a $40,000 grant. The money will be used to provide smoke alarms and fire safety information and to report safety problems in rental housing.
Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said Congress and Homeland officials are "having trouble prioritizing."
"They've spent billions since September 11, and while we've avoided another terrorist attack, it's clear a lot of this money could have been spent more effectively," Mr. Schatz says.
"Even if fire departments are eligible, I would hope they would tell Congress what their real needs are and say 'please don't send us money for puppet and clown shows,' " Mr. Schatz said. "People in New York and other major cities will not find this funny at all."
Copyright © 2006 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved
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04-21-2006, 10:43 AM #1
Fire Prevention/Physical Fitness are "Pork"
04-21-2006, 11:15 AM #2Even if fire departments are eligible, I would hope they would tell Congress what their real needs are and say 'please don't send us money for puppet and clown shows,' " Mr. Schatz said. "People in New York and other major cities will not find this funny at all."
I'll admit, I'm guilty my grant got funded for a robot. I'm damn proud of it and I don't see it as a waste at all. 10K to help prevent injury or death in high risk age groups of children and older adults is money well spent. The problem with prevention related projects is they are hard to quantify. How do we know if little Susie would have died in a house fire in 2005 if she hadn't had my robot present fire safety to her. You DON'T and people have a problem with that. The very same people that when you have a very measurable statistic of little Susie died last week in a house fire will be at a city council meeting asking why the FD isn't doing more to educate our youth.
Like wise how do we know that FF Jim would have had a heart attack last year if it weren't for the exercise equipment purchased with grant money. Again, you DON'T. You only know when its too late and he dies on scene. Its too late to wish we had implemented a fitness program or applied for a grant to fund the equipment.
This should get some people fired up.
04-21-2006, 11:30 AM #3
Besides the complete ignorance of certain media outlets, my biggest question is this. How can a dept, or a city, ban FD members from tobacco use, even when off duty, saying it is detrimental to health, then in the same breath say that we should be getting in shape on our own time? Numerous studies have shown that if you workout, even stopping for less that 48 hours can cause minor setbacks in your workout routine. Physical activity everyday is what keeps people healthy. So if you want me to work 24 hours in a row, you should be providing me with a way to maintain my physical fitness.
Besides, I cant afford to go to a gym or buy gym equipment to use at home. They dont pay me enough.Proud East Coast Traditionalist.
04-21-2006, 11:37 AM #4
While PT and Fire Prevention are need and worthy causes, their funding is not intended with this money. It is a basic funding accountablity issue.
04-21-2006, 11:43 AM #5Originally Posted by DennisTheMenace
says Marc Short, Homeland Security spokesman. "Physical fitness is an individual responsibility."Proud East Coast Traditionalist.
04-21-2006, 12:14 PM #6
I agree that Homeland Security funds should be used for that-Homeland Security. However, Congress appropriated the money, and Congress set the parameters for what it can be spent on. How is it the Fire Service's fault that they are applying for money that they are eligible for?
Since physical fitness is a personal responsibility, lets remove the fitness centers from all military basis. The troops can run on their own time. But first, lets get rid of the Fitness Center for the House of Representatives at the Rayburn Congressional Office Building. Not to mention the running track on the White House grounds.
This article is another example of a reporter or paper using an article to push an agenda, rather than providing objective information.
04-21-2006, 12:34 PM #7
- Join Date
- May 2005
see the bottom of BCer's post on the Grant forum page
04-21-2006, 12:37 PM #8
As I recall, the original purpose of Fire Act Grants was to improve firefighting operations and safety - it had very little to do with Homeland Security.
I think we're getting a bad rap here because of the DHS/FEMA reorganization.ullrichk
a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for
04-21-2006, 01:39 PM #9the original purpose of Fire Act Grants was to improve firefighting operations and safety - it had very little to do with Homeland Security.
The purchase of workout eqipment is something that has been done for years with FIRE act money. There are a number of departments in my locality who have used such grants to outfit the entire department, including my brothers. Very nice equipment, they are also very well stocked. It wasn't from Homeland Security, though.
04-21-2006, 04:36 PM #10Originally Posted by gunnyv
04-21-2006, 04:36 PM #11
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
This is EXACTLY why FEMA needs to be broken away from Homeland Security.
My assumption is that all the above items were purchased threough the FireAct porogram, which just happens to be funneled through Homeland Security. This is exactly what FireAct was intended to purchase, so if it is in fact FireAct money, there is no problem. Physical Fitness is critical to firefighter safety and survival. Public Education is even more critical.
Now in fact if this is Homeland Security money, intended for homeland security purposes, then this is an issue. It's unfortunate when FireAct gets tied up in this type of debate .... another public misconception.
04-21-2006, 06:23 PM #12
- Join Date
- Nov 2001
I think I will need to come back when I can post without becoming too emotional. This reporter has not done her homework.
04-21-2006, 10:54 PM #13
The physical fitness equipment in our station has a lot more effect on the safety of our community than the surveillance cameras that were approved to buy with DHS funds. It doesn't help that the cameras don't work 90% of the time.
Hey Dennis, I figured that shot across the bow would get you to sound off. You have to admit, $180/yr is pretty cheap. Somebody is subsidizing it. Jack Abramoff?
04-21-2006, 11:53 PM #14
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- Jun 2002
- Glenn Dale Md, Heart of the P.G. County Fire Belt....
I Don't Agree...............
On this subject, I respectfully disagree with some of you on Fitness Equipment. I believe that Homeland Security and Fire Act grants should be restricted to Apparatus, PPE, and Tools and Equipment.Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
In memory of
Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006
IACOJ Budget Analyst
I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.
04-22-2006, 02:06 AM #15Originally Posted by hwoods
04-24-2006, 10:08 AM #16
I'm with Hwoods and have for a long time been against the use of Fire Act money for exercise equipment. IMO, when ALL fire departments have their basic equipment needs met, then worry about exercise equipment. There are simply too many ways to get a workout without having to buy expensive equipment. Climb stairs, jog, pushups, situps, etc.
And yes, it sure does seem like this reporter does not really know the facts."This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?
04-24-2006, 12:45 PM #17
- Join Date
- Feb 2002
I agree with Hwoods there are too many 25 and 30 year old trucks out here. A treedmill wont put out a fire.Stay Safe ~ The Dragon Still Bites!
04-24-2006, 01:39 PM #18
Originally Posted by 5pts384"When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
- Join Date
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-- Jim Henson (1936 - 1990)
04-24-2006, 01:44 PM #19
Does anyone expect a supportive article about civil servants from the Moonie Times?Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
04-24-2006, 02:17 PM #20Originally Posted by DianeC
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