2020 has been a milestone year for Firefighters and EMS Fund. We engaged in 11 different projects around the country and 10 of those 11 measures ended up being successful. Notwithstanding, 2020 has been extremely difficult for our entire country. With unprecedented contraction of the American economy, local towns have sought ways to preserve their budgets by proposing cuts to staffing, and likely foregoing major and much needed equipment purchases.
Firefighters and EMS Fund released a new version of our Voter Guide to inform voters of things to keep in mind when heading to the polls.
Voter and Supporter Outreach
In 2020, Firefighters and EMS Fund undertook a massive campaign to reach hundreds of thousands of Americans and inform them of things to keep in mind when heading to the polls. The buckslip served as a useful tool to share a condensed version of the voter guide. This came at a time when America was well engaged in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and a recession on the horizon. Firefighters and EMS Fund was able to reach over 250,000 homes during this effort.
Kirkland first recognized the need for a voter-approved funding initiative in 2012 while implementing the most recent fire strategic plan. By 2019, the department had completed many incremental improvements, but there were still costly projects that were impossible without going to voters for additional funding.
Both the levy committee and the IAFF Local 3196 took receipt of checks to support not only the committee’s political expenditures but IAFF local 3196 can continue programs that help the Saybrook community.
Voters approved a 1% sales tax increase for the next ten years to hire an additional 20 firefighters as well as begin construction on a new fire station.
The town of Grand Chute in Wisconsin approved a referendum to hire an additional 9 firefighter/paramedics to meet local demands for public safety.
- New Mexico, PFFA
Firefighters and EMS Fund assisted New Mexico PFFA in their efforts to elect pro-first responder lawmakers throughout the state.
Firefighters and EMS Fund reached out to representatives of the Jerome Township fire department after hearing their attempts to pass a levy had failed twice before. In the end we found success with the measure narrowly passing with 52% of the vote.
The Refugee Canyon Fire District was formed in 2018 and has found much opposition to the idea of assessing all properties in the township at the same millage rate. This measure unfortunately did not pass but the Firefighters and EMS Fund stands ready to assist them in the future.
When we learned that the Woodlands Professional Firefighters Association had endorsed as many as 8 candidates, and was engaged in hosting FIRE OPS 101 events to educate elected officials of the obstacles firefighters face day to day, we reached out to lend our support. They were able to use our donation to take a half page ad out in a local newspaper.
The town of Oceano was engaged in a tough decision: come up with an extra $400,000 to remain part of a joint fire services agreement or pay even more to provide for themselves and accept limited access to emergency services. Unfortunately the measure failed narrowly with 66.12% voting in support but requiring a ⅔ majority vote to pass.
Local fire authorities proposed to voters in the city of Loveland an increase in taxes to support and increase in demand for emergency services. Firefighters and EMS Fund reached out to learn how we could help. The measure thankfully passed with overwhelming support.
This year, while providing crucial support for ballot measures taking place in another Ohio township, the Firefighters and EMS Fund was contacted by a committee from Genoa township. They heard about our mission to support public safety and requested we help them make their case to the public for why their fire and EMS levies should be renewed.
Firefighters and EMS Fund helped pass ballot measures around the country resulting in an additional $11+ million dollars for fire departments!
With many fire department leaders warning of massive layoffs on the horizon, it is the duty of industry stakeholders to take part in a broader discussion about what local emergency services needed prior to the Novel Coronavirus landing on American shores, as well as what new problems have stemmed from the ongoing recession before it is too late.
America’s first line of defense has been notoriously underpaid, overworked, understaffed and it is up to us to take action to ensure emergency services are adequately equipped in the event of another disaster.