A man dies in an unprotected trench when it collapses on him. Afterwards? A full assault on training requirements for workers, zero tolerance for shoring shortcut procedures, and funds provided to fire departments for equipment.
Unbelievable but true. This real life example is often how we go about providing additional funds for the fire service. But no event has had more effect on fire service funding than September 11, 2001.
Before Osama Bin Laden’s attack on the World Trade Center buildings, there was zero – let me say that again – ZERO – federal funds given to the fire service.
Afterwards? Millions and millions and millions.
All it took was 2,996 deaths – 343 of those being firefighters. Why?
It’s unfortunate, but America has a tendency to reward failure. Law enforcement is probably the best example. Crime goes up? We add more police officers, and we add more sophisticated crime fighting equipment – and on and on.
It’s also unfortunate, but America has a tendency to punish success. Fire service is probably the best example. Fire prevention programs and stricter building requirements have reduced the number of fires. Fires go down? We reduce firefighters. And, we provide no funds for equipment – and on and on.
Bulk up Prevention – don’t bulk up Emergency Response. And, when the emergency response numbers go down, don’t cut the emergency response ranks. Firefighter numbers have already been depleted.
Let’s provide emergency service funding in a more sensible fashion. Fire service funding shouldn’t take a monster.