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Firefighter funding: Why the cuts must stop

The proposed 2013 budget would cut another $2 million each from the AFG and SAFER programs

I was raised under the policy that when you were angry you counted to 10 before you reacted. This was supposed to give you time to think about the situation before you might do or say something foolish.

Before I wrote this article, I practiced that policy several times — but I still found the need to express my same initial thoughts.

The proposed 2013 budget would cut another $2 million each from the AFG and SAFER programs that already received significant cuts in 2012.

The proposed budget would also cut another $2 million from the US Fire Administration. I fully realize that we have been in an economic crisis for the last five to six years.

But what is truly bothering me is that we have misplaced our priorities in this country and I feel that eventually it will come back to haunt us.

I joined the fire service almost 43 years ago. During that time period, I have spent thousands of hours answering calls, going to meetings, and attending training classes.

In addition, I have spent probably an equal amount of time, if not more, raising funds for our volunteer department. I have missed family outings, arrived late at my child's sporting events and ate countless meals alone at the dinner table because my family had finished hours earlier while I was out on a call.

I'm not asking for an award or anything like that, because other volunteers firefighters have given far more than me.

During my years of service I have attended a number of funeral and memorial services for volunteers that have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.

What I'm asking is that our country's political and social leaders support the services that we provide, both financially and ethically.

But what makes the headlines normally in most media? Not drastic cuts, but celebrities in rehab, sports stars being arrested, and scandals surrounding politicians and their mistresses.

I'm also tired of hearing about sports figures who are turning down $30 million contracts while municipalities are trying to crunch numbers to keep five firefighters jobs.

Remember, most of the ballparks, stadiums and arenas that these people are playing in were funded by the very same municipalities that are now trying to keep their heads above water.

As I stated earlier, I think we have misplaced our priorities but there is still time to find them before they are completely lost.

As far as the Federal budget goes, the process for 2013 has just started. The first step you can take is to become educated. The proposed budget is available at www.whitehouse.gov.

By no means am I advocating any type of fiscal irresponsibility. I am not suggesting that our government spend funds that it doesn't have.

What I am suggesting is that a higher priority be given to funding core services such as fire and emergency medical services in our nation before our government starts other programs. For instance, looking at the proposed budget, $770 million has been earmarked toward the "Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund."

Some of you may be too young to remember, but it wasn't that long ago that the fire service in this country did not have a grant program. If we continue to let our funding be cut as it has over the past two years, we will end up in that situation once again.

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