How Buget Cuts Effect Fire Departments

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Running head: Budgets and Fire Departments

How Budget Cuts Effect Fire Departments
Leann Rae
Edison State College

How Budget Cuts Effect Fire Departments
Budgets have played a major role in fire departments all over the world. In the past couple of years, fire department budgets have been in the headlines quite frequently. This is especially true in Florida, where there has been much controversy in the proposal and passing of Amendment 1, in January 2008. The passing of this amendment has left many counties and cities in Florida having to cut budgets across the board, which includes the fire and EMS departments. Many departments are facing a substantial loss in their fiscal year budget which could translate into millions of dollars. With many fire departments providing fire suppression and emergency medical services, this monetary loss is going to greatly impact the communities they serve, despite what the law makers think. This loss is not only going to affect the communities and the departments as a whole, but everyone from the fire chief, the company officers all the way to the firefighters and fire inspectors. These changes are going to cause personnel lay offs, less public education, less training and education for fire department employees, increases in response times, lack of resources, out dated equipment, and increase in unsafe buildings due to code violations. With each of the causes there is going to be an effect, safety is the theme, with personnel lay offs, the engines will be minimally staffed; if there is a fire and you have minimum personnel are these departments going to abide by the two-in-two out rule? Even worse there may not be a supervisor to be accountable for the firefighters, because the company officer is also fighting the fire. Without public education is there going to be an increase in fire deaths or carbon monoxide poisonings? With outdated equipment what is the chance that your firefighter could sustain an injury or worse, death? With an increase in response times, and unsafe buildings, how many civilian lives are going to be lost? The company officer is going to be the one that is going to have to face these challenges head on.

In Orange County, Florida, “Orange County pays for seventy-eight percent of its fire and medical rescue division through a special assessment on property tax bills. This year lawmakers mandated that counties role back that levy, resulting in roughly the same budget as a year ago.” (Damron, 2008, para.16). Without an increase in budget how are these departments supposed to hire new employees, replace old equipment, and educate their staff on the ever changing ways in the fire and emergency medical service world? Government officials need to look past the political issues and see the safety problems; otherwise the fire departments are facing a long, hard road ahead of them without an end in sight. In Florida, Governor Christ signed a fifteen point six billion dollar tax cut, which he promised, “Will make property taxes drop like a rock.” (Hafenbrack & Kleindienst, 2007, para. 2). The Miami-Dade Fire Chiefs Association held a news conference regarding the tax cuts that the Florida Governor is proposing. Miami- Dade is looking at a thirty one point six billion dollar loss over the next five years. Alfredo Suarez, president of the Fire Chiefs Association of Miami-Dade County, stated, “Stations will close, units will be out of service, and fireman and paramedics will lose their jobs.” (Rabin, 2007, para. 2). Has our government learned nothing from the September 11th, 2001 events and how important the fire departments and EMS agencies are to protecting the American people? In the world of fire service there are standards, rules, regulations and codes. It is up to the individual departments to make sure they meet these standards, rules and regulations, but in today’s financial world the fire departments are going to have a...
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