Funding for community response; First responders seeing shortages in their paycheck

Matthew Ledford, Reporter

Firefighters and fire departments play many crucial roles among the civilian population by protecting life and property in the event of fires in their area. Rescuing and protecting people in the event of a road traffic collision, and rescuing and protecting people in the event of other emergencies is their job.

     Funding for firefighters is provided mostly by state and local governments. Beginning in the 1990s, lower funding in state and local budgets began, along with increasing responsibilities of local fire departments, leading many in the fire service community to call for additional financial support from the federal government and an increased budget. Which has caused an increase in shortages in supplies and personnel, inability to promote capable firefighters, and purchase new and better life-saving equipment due to lack of funds. 

     Dwindling Fire department budgets create shortages in not only supplies but also in personnel. With a shortness in personnel comes slower response times, while also creating a higher risk for the community. A cardiac response time is usually five minutes with active personnel on standby. But with low staffing numbers, response times to these same cardiac arrests can take up to thirty minutes waiting for an Emergency Medical Service (EMS) crew to free up. 

     Firefighters also provide an important role in educating the public regarding fire and safety which also comes out of their budget. Teaching fire prevention and educating the public on how to respond to emergencies helps save lives. Most, if not all, fire departments have outreach services in which they aid underserved communities, and teach fire safety in workplaces.

     Both state and national governments need to take the initiative and stop cutting first responders’ budgets. But instead of cutting these budgets, they need to increase them to provide adequate personnel, supplies, and training. 

     As a caring member of society today, it is the responsibility of the citizens that these services protect and serve to ensure that they are well funded. These services provide not only life-saving pre-hospital care, they also protect and save burning buildings. 

     When disaster strikes, firefighters and Emergency Medical Service officials are the first people to reach the scene. They know that there is a chance that things might not go their way. These people are heroes who deserve to have the proper resources at their fingertips to save lives. 

     Think of when it comes time for you to need these services it is going to come down to your decision of how funded these men and women are. Whether it takes five minutes or it takes thirty to respond to your call, it can be the difference between life and death.