I’m sure I’m not alone in shaking my head at the partial federal shutdown. We’ve experienced shutdowns before as our federal leaders try to gain leverage to get what they want in the federal budget or affect policy changes.
But this one is different.
As I write, the U.S. federal government shutdown is in its fourth week, with no end in sight. The White House and Congress are not negotiating; they are barely speaking to one another.
No one is being served. While some Americans are being inconvenienced, many others are being hurt financially.
What does this shutdown mean for the fire and emergency service?
Staff in the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program are furloughed. It’s unclear how this may affect this year’s grant-application process and awarding of grants. It is our understanding that the AFG/SAFER Grant helpdesk is operational but probably cannot provide much assistance.
The National Fire Academy has been forced to cancel nearly two dozen classes, affecting 500-plus students. This is unfair to those students whose educational advancement and professional development has been stopped in its tracks through no fault of their own.
How does the shutdown affect the IAFC? Many of our programs are federally funded. We hire staff to manage such programs as Volunteer Workforce Solutions and Ready, Set, Go!
So far, no IAFC staff members have been furloughed. The board of directors has directed executive staff to implement some actions – mostly to delay some payments – until the government reopens.
The bottom line is that no one is being served well when our federal representatives cannot agree, cannot negotiate and cannot fulfill their commitments to the folks who put them in office.
In the name of public service, we urge the president and Congress to reopen the government, quickly resolve their differences and promise not to use the federal budget and the American people as a hammer to get their way.
Fire Chief Dan Eggleston
President and Chairman of the Board