By Randall Hanifen
EDM Digest Contributor
If the newly imposed hiring freeze leads to a reduction in the federal workforce, agencies will have problems that affect their work and mission progress. Fortunately, there are some exemptions to hiring freezes for workers in public safety, which could include FEMA and the United States Fire Administration (USFA).
As I reported in my last two blog posts, the Wingspread Report identifies strategies at each level of government to develop plans and programs to meet their overall mission goals. Many of the national strategies in the fire and rescue services rely on the USFA and the National Fire Academy (NFA) to coordinate and/or put into practice.
Fire and Rescue Services Are More than Half of a Community’s Response Force
I also noted that fire and rescue services make up more than 50% of the response and mitigation forces that a community can deploy in an emergency or disaster. As we continue to battle ISIS and other terrorist organizations, we may see some retaliation on our city streets.
Terrorist groups want to bring the fight to our streets. We must begin to look for opportunities to teach our elected officials that fire and rescue services are homeland security.
Maintaining Funding is Vital to First Responder Effectiveness
Because we do not have armed military troops stationed in our neighborhoods, we are the first line of defense. We must ensure we have the federal support and funds to provide that line of defense our citizens have come to expect.
There are organizations besides the USFA and NFA that can develop fire and rescue programs through federal grants. These grant programs are sometimes criticized because fire and rescue is often viewed as a local problem. But there are no volunteer workers who can invest the thousands of hours in collaboration and development needed for fire and rescue programs.
Start gathering your data and prepare emails, phone calls and talking points. A political process may be needed to ensure we do not lose our abilities to meet tomorrow’s first responder demands.