Reduce federal, increase state role in fire service

Reduce federal, increase state role in fire service

Daryl D. Sensenig, C.E.M.


Anne Arundel County (MD) EMS/Fire Rescue

As a subscriber, I want to respond to “We`re Watching” (Editor`s Opinion, June 1998). I offer my opinions in the spirit of debate and in an attempt to think “outside the box.”

First, I think Bill Manning is wrong in fantasizing that the federal government can solve the problems that have been identified. I don`t dispute that the fire/rescue service has its share of problems. I don`t think that the federal government can fix them.

We need to go in another direction entirely. To start with, let`s abolish the United States Fire Administration (USFA). That`s right, end it at the close of business September 30. I agree that the USFA has not been successful in its mission. So why keep throwing good money after bad? Take the funds currently budgeted for that agency and return them to the states as block grants for the state-level training agencies. The fire service is a local issue. Let local government decide what it needs, not a bigger bureaucracy in Washington, D.C.

To support this position, let`s look at the federal track record in solving local issues. Do you want the federal government to do for the fire service what it has done for public housing, public education, or social programs in general? Did we ever win that war on poverty? I don`t think so. Just look at the resentment of the two-in/two-out policy. That came from a federal agency, OSHA. From reading other Letters to the Editor, it seems that most people in the fire service want to “get the government off our backs.” By expanding the federal role, do you think that will happen?

The fire service in this country is a diverse body with a wide range of opinions, differences, needs, and challenges. Until the fire service can reach consensus on the issues that face us, that we can`t solve with local resources, the feds can`t help us. Keep the money at home where it belongs and can make a difference.


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