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Real World Firefighting
by Jay Lowry

Greek tragedy for firefighters

Fire and EMS will survive but both must plan for tighter budgets while educating public on importance of the services performed

By Jay Lowry   

What does the Greek financial crisis that hit the headlines earlier in the summer have to do with fire stations being built?

A great deal. Unlike 20 years ago, we live in a very connected world and the global market is influenced by local events with repercussions felt in cities and towns across the United States.

When Greece received a bailout from the European Union, stocks plummeted in the United States — and didn't stop dropping for a while.

Why should firefighters or EMS care?

There is a steady drum beat for financial reform including pension reform, eliminating deficit spending and reducing salaries. These are local effects of a national and even international problem. NFPA 1710 staffing is being attacked as wasteful and the financial crisis helps those who want to have barebones service.

Some firefighters state this was the worst budget year in history. Not hardly.

In many areas, the big bust will be the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budget cycles.

The mood of the country coupled with rising debt, deficit spending, massive entitlement programs and loss of investor confidence will combine to make the current situation look tame.

Warren Buffett is known as the "Oracle of Omaha" because of his financial acumen. Testifying before Congress last month, and in subsequent interviews, Buffett discussed rising concerns over municipal bonds.

He has divested, as have others, in muni-bonds because cities and counties are finding it very hard to make payments. This is very bad news.

All is not lost. Fire and EMS will survive but both must plan for tighter budgets while educating the public on the importance of the services performed.

The economy will rebound eventually but don't expect it to happen soon. Even so, the effects will have consequences for years to come.

About the author

Jay Lowry founded the blog FirefighterHourly.com, and also runs a podcast called Halligan and Hose. He has served as a firefighter and fire marshal and specializes in covering issues that are sensitive in nature. Lowry is a current or past member of the IAFF, IACOJ, the South Carolina State Firefighters Association, the International Fire Marshals Association; the International Codes Council, the Society of Professional Journalists and The Authors Guild. To contact Jay, e-mail Jay.Lowry@FireRescue1.com.



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