The shutdown's effect on firefighting

The changes may not be obvious outside the Beltway, but the effects are being felt from NFA students to fallen firefighter memorial organizers


For those of us who live and work in the National Capital region, the effects of the federal government shutdown are fairly obvious and easy to spot.

Traffic is lighter than usual while "non-essential" furloughed federal employees, and many others from the myriad private-sector firms that depend in some form on federal spending, try to figure out when and if they'll go back to work.

Local businesses are offering specials to keep themselves going as the shutdown appears to be heading into a third day. And media outlets are reporting stories about all kinds of impacts, while we watch the prominently displayed stopwatches that continue adding the days, hours and minutes.

If you live beyond the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area you might not see the shutdown's effects as clearly yet, but it's likely you will at some point. While I know at least one vacationing firefighter who was escorted out of Yosemite National Park yesterday, the potential effects of the shutdown are much more serious and hold implications for the entire U.S. fire service.

In one of the most visible impacts of the shutdown, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has been forced to move its Annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service to an alternate location from the now-shuttered National Fire Academy campus in Emmitsburg, Md. While the service will proceed as scheduled — and I know it will be conducted with dignity, grace and respect — there's no question this move added to the complexity of ensuring the families of our fallen brothers and sisters receive full honors for their sacrifices.

This closure also means that students from across the nation who planned to attend classes this week at the NFA will miss that opportunity, along with others who could be affected by the ripple effects of even a short-term closure. At the same time, curriculum development work and other activities across the U.S. Fire Administration's mission areas have been halted.

The Centers for Disease Control is also not immune to the federal shutdown. I've seen reports of its flu preparedness activities being affected and CDC's Twitter feed, a vital source of emergency preparedness information for its many followers, was also placed on furlough status today.

And the list goes on.

Meanwhile, those of us in state and local governments continue providing other essential services, and I hope that as we do so we consider the vital support provided by our federal colleagues and wish them the best for a speedy return to work.

Stay safe!

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