Sequestration Cuts Include Firefighting, While Wildfires Rage in Florida
UPDATE: 40 acres in five counties (Marion, Clay, Volusia, Flagler, and Orange) are now on fire, with 30 MPH winds.
Exactly ten hours after sequestration kicked in, two of Florida’s 7th Congressional District counties are on fire. In Volusia and Flagler County, two hundred acres are ablaze and high winds are making it nearly impossible to contain. According to the Palm Coast Observer, "people are running from their homes and into their vehicles, grabbing what they can. There are homes 200 yards from the flames. They're scurrying out of their driveways, putting their pets in carriers, loading up their families and evacuating."
So what, exactly, does the man-made disaster known as sequestration doue to the fine folks who are risking their lives to protect those who are "scurrying down their driveways" from this natural disaster?
Well, according to Secretary Tom Vilsack of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, sequestration cuts put the Forest Service's entire $132 million wildland fire management budget $42 million below the average cost of just battling wildfires.
Closer to home, federal grants that local fire departments rely on for training and safety equipment including the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER), Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) and Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) are nearly wiped out. The Orlando area fire departments receive over $5 million in federal grants.
Randy Wyse, president of the Jacksonville Fire Union, summed it up when he said "That's the worst nightmare for a fire fighter is not being able to respond due to a budget concern."
What are the Flagler and Volusia federal representatives — the people responsible for making sure stuff like this doesn’t happen — saying about sequestration?
Senior Senator Bill Nelson is encouraging the people to "raise hell."
Junior Senator Marco Rubio said that "the sequester was designed intentionally to be very painful and very unsustainable. It’s supposed to force action ... Perhaps the sequester is the only way we’re going to get people to move on it."
Freshman Representative Ron DeSantis called sequestration a "manufactured crisis."
A first year Congressman earns over $175,000 per year. A first year Ffirefighter in earns just under $34,000 per year. Congress has worked 19 days this year. Flagler Ffirefighters have risked their lives for seven straight hours today alone. So when the people "raise hell" to "force action" in this "manufactured crisis" perhaps they will demand sequestration cuts based on merit, workload, and and/or societal benefit.