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Budget cuts at the FDNY, your hometown, everywhere

We've got an interesting link here to a scheduled press release where the New York City mayor is going to propose shutting down 20 fire stations at night in order to help alleviate some of the budget shortfalls anticipated in New York City.

With the coming "austerity" which is surely the next buzzword will be getting used to, we need to begin to prepare for how we are going to provide adequate protection and meet the needs of our communities. The buzzword austerity is defined this way “a saving, economy, or act of self-denial, especially in respect of something regarded as a luxury” I'm not sure how public safety can be defined as a luxury, but nonetheless throughout the world the word austerity is being applied to virtually every aspect of government services.

It seems as if our leadership, even that which we know is educated, dedicated and highly connected is failing us. And I don't fault them I think the dynamics of this problem are that complex and that intricate that we may have found the precipice where our technological society is outpacing our Cro-Magnon aged minds. For example I find it amazing that a man is educated and as sophisticated as Mayor Michael Bloomberg would use the old saying doing more with less, you cannot do more with less. If you have less resources you can still "do" but it won't be more, it will be different.

It's time that we speak honestly about what is going on when we reduce the amount of resources available to protect the community. And it's not that we don't get it, we understand that there is a tremendous fiscal problem in our country. We understand that it's causes are many and complicated and we probably don't have any solutions that folks a lot savvier than us in finance haven't already thought of. But we do know firefighting, and we do know what it takes to get the job done.

So given that reality that no matter how much money they decide to print there are still going to the cuts. Printing money is clearly not a good idea but that's what the geniuses are doing. So as we get ready for "austerity" in budgeting the second half of this double edge sword is going to be inflation.

I would love to know what your thoughts are, how have these cuts, reductions, brownouts, furloughs and other budget-cutting ideas affected you and your ability to provide service to your community. And please don't misunderstand me I do not think it's the end of the world. Nor do I think it's time to crawl into a h*** and pretend it's just going to get better. It is going to get better but it's going to take time, ingenuity and effort on our part. Bad times are an opportunity for smart courageous and dedicated people to find ways to succeed in spite of obstacles.

It's time to dig down and look around our own communities and determine how we are going to locally support the folks that we swore to protect. It's time for us as individuals to determine what level of commitment we want to make to making a difference. I'm sick of hearing the word we, using the word we is only a way to deflect responsibility for making a difference on to someone else. It's time that you and I committed ourselves to making a difference. I know that I have to work harder, I have to travel more, I have to put in more hours in order to keep my commitment to fire engineering and the fire service.

I know what this fiscal mess is doing in regards to our beloved magazine, and to fire service training but I would love to have a discussion here about what it's doing locally in your community in terms of service delivery. Once we identify what is happening and where it is impacting the citizens we swore to serve then we can start to try to figure out ways to still meet our commitment in spite of the hardships were going to be forced to endure. We will come out of this stronger and better equipped to meet our mission of that I have no doubt.

But we are not going to do more with less only a moron would believe you can do more with less, we are going to do things differently, what those things are and how those differences are going to make an impact I'm not completely sure. But I have a few ideas I would like to discuss in this blog.

As always your brother Bobby

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Comment by Mike France on November 19, 2010 at 10:43am
I have another one for you here, about the City of Schenectady's Fire chief's Penison deal, that goes along what you are talking about. Seeing the City is laying Off FF's.
Comment by Bobby Halton on November 19, 2010 at 10:35am
Here's an interesting article sent to us by our friend Billy G about a fire department in New York that may close its paid fire department in favor of going volunteer in order to save money.
Comment by Art "Chief Reason" Goodrich on November 18, 2010 at 3:38pm
This year, we will have to dip into our reserve.
In years past, the district would have borrowed the money.
We are trying to hold down spending and provide the current level of service.
I have insisted that we hold the line, because I inherited alot of debt when I became president of the board of trustees. We have had help from out of district billing and grants, but both seem to be generating less money for us than it has in the past.
Here in Illinois, it is going to be interesting to see what happens, because we are reading all of these nasty stories about "gold-plated pensions". The good news is that it's TEACHERS and state employees catching hell and not the firefighters at this point.
I know here in Peoria, they are looking to cut firefighters and close another station. In the Quad Cities, Moline, East Moline and Davenport, IA are hurting.
Comment by Mike France on November 18, 2010 at 1:26pm
This year i was fairly ok for Budgeted money short of taking on utility rig out of service . but next year the board cut the equipment budget from $62,000.00 to $50,000.00, Traiing was cut down from $6000.00 to $4000.00. But the amazing things was that they increased the Service award that every member gets from $480.00 a year to $700.00 provided that said members make their 50 points for the year. Again being aVolunteer dept. this is minor compared to bigger and paid department around us that are losing mapower due to the economy.

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