Firefighters and EMS workers are on the frontlines of emergencies across the country, and we as a nation rely on their services to keep us safe. As we’ve seen, especially, during the COVID-19 pandemic, these emergency-responders often sacrifice their own mental and physical wellbeing in order to perform their duties. Lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), outdated technology, and understaffed stations leave tens of thousands of workers exposed to toxic chemicals, fatal illness, and mental and physical exhaustion. While these heroes risk their lives every day, the number of citizens aware of the challenges they face wanes.
The wide-spread decrease in funding to fire departments is caused directly by lack of public action. As firefighter’s responsibilities, number/types of calls they respond to, and size of their jurisdictions are steadily on the rise, funding is not. The public gets to vote on the approval and distribution of funding, and it is often a grim reality for fire departments. In 2018, requests to build, staff, and maintain new fire stations were denied 60% of the time. Funding not only goes towards maintaining and updating equipment and technology, but physical and mental health services, ensuring safe firehouse conditions, and basic benefits for firefighters.
It’s the public’s responsibility to educate themselves on the issues that fire departments are facing, what ballot measures are being voted on, and how we can better serve those who serve us day after day. When fire departments aren’t properly equipped and staffed, response times to emergencies get worse. When they aren’t able to efficiently respond to emergencies, citizen fatality increases. The bills and ballot measures put forth are designed not only to keep the public safe, but also firefighters themselves. When proper equipment, essential training, and health services aren’t available to fire departments, massive tolls are taken on our public servants. It has also been shown that lack of proper equipment can lead to cancer, illnesses, and even death. In order to keep both communities and themselves safe, it is of the utmost importance that the public does everything in their power to support and fund our first responders.
The 2020 Voter Guide outlines the priority issues that the fire and EMS industries are facing, many of which are completely unknown to the public. Help us keep firefighters and emergency medical service responders healthy, safe, and prepared to do their jobs. After all, it could be your life at stake.
Read the 2020 Voter Guide to learn more about the extensive list of hurdles our heroes are facing, and what you can do right now to help.
In an effort to better understand and support local and state referendum and ballot measures measures that will help firefighters and emergency responders, we created and published the 2018 Fire Referendum Report. This is the first study and data aggregation of its kind and we are very proud to be leading the way in an effort that will help us better assist the political efforts of firefighters across the country in the future. Learn more here.