California’s Wildfires Couldn’t Have Come at a Worse Time

Opinion by Jane Porter

California’s Wildfires Couldn’t Have Come at a Worse Time

For weeks, firefighters in California have been battling the largest fires the state has seen in recent years with over 3.3 million acres burned and tens of thousands of residents prepared to evacuate. So far the cost, both human and financial have been exponential, and this comes in the middle of a pandemic the likes of which, according to experts, is far from over. Recently, Firefighters and EMS Fund wrote about the devastating, long-term effect COVID-19 is having on fire department budgets, and the last thing American cities needed is another natural disaster to run up the cost of protecting lives and property.

With each passing year the wildfires seem to be getting worse, and are costing millions of dollars more than ever before. In addition to Congress dragging its feet to administer aid to local fire departments, emergency services are suffering- especially those on the West Coast. “We have not seen the likes of this fire, in this state, this integrated with our communities ever before,” Doug Graf, Chief of Fire Protection for the Oregon Department of Forestry, said. With so much at stake this year it is imperative that people be encouraged to get out and vote to protect emergency services. 

In order to accomplish this goal Firefighters and EMS Fund has created a voter guide and launched a public mail initiative to help inform people of important things they should keep in mind when casting their ballots this year. 

Resources, Funding, and Opportunities for Training

Continuous training and professional development are necessary to ensure firefighters and emergency personnel are able to respond during a crisis. The average fire department is under-equipped and understaffed, and the number of opportunities a firefighter has to sharpen their skills and learn new techniques are too infrequent. Help make sure your departments have the funding they need to properly train!

Funding for Facilities and Equipment

Fire stations are the home base for emergency responders. They need to be well-equipped to meet OSHA standards, and have features that promote training, education, safety, and rest. Modern facilities ensure first responders are able to respond in a timely manner with the equipment and tools necessary to help citizens no matter what.

Public Officials Who Care About First Responders

Elect leaders who will ensure adequate benefits and hazard pay for first responders during this difficult time. Since the pandemic began, a light has been shone on the insufficient and often nonexistent healthcare benefits first responders receive. Not only should all EMTs, Paramedics, and Firefighters have health insurance- they should receive hazard pay to compensate them for their potential exposure to COVID-19 until the pandemic has officially come to an end.