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The bleeding has started. If you pay close attention you’ll notice a few drops. You might be inclined to ignore them because those places always bleed. You know, Baltimore, Camden, Peoria. Probably not your department, so no need to get excited yet. Wrong!
All the signs are there that this one will be a gusher. Arteries will be sliced across the country with a lot of bleeding out. If you’re a career firefighter don’t, for a moment, think your paycheck or your job are safe. If you’ve a volunteer, there’s a good chance your department could be soon fighting for its existence in the days, months and years ahead. The clock is ticking on what could be the only chance to save paychecks, jobs and fire stations — federal help. So, what are you doing about it?
Here’s the problem. Congress and the White House only provided $100 million in the CARES Act for the fire service. They gave law enforcement $850 million. Despite the fact that fire based EMS handles COVID-19 calls for a majority of the country CARES is more of a WHO CARES? Act for firefighters. If the next stimulus bill doesn’t include substantial and meaningful assistance to fire departments, get out the tourniquets.
Congress is working on the latest bill as I write this. You should be working on it too. Think of all those people who, right now, believe you’re the greatest? The ones sending you food and expressing how grateful they are for your bravery during the pandemic. Reach out to them and every friend you have. Tell them to contact the White House and Congress and demand the next bill address the needs of the firefighters who protect them every day.
Local budgets will be unable to offset the massive tax losses due to the stay at home orders across the country. Career department budgets will be slashed. Volunteer departments that rely on funding from local jurisdictions may be out of luck. This is on top of fire departments that may be hurting already due to increased PPE and decontamination expenses, overtime needed to cover for quarantined firefighters, paramedics and EMTs and the inability for volunteers departments to hold fundraising events.
Don’t hesitate. Don’t put it off until tomorrow. Your department is going to need this help. Reach out to your community, Congress and the White House. Do it now.