#95 of My Stupid State
A story that isn't getting much attention. A few days ago a representative from the Florida State Fire Service Association literally begged the Florida Legislature: "Please stop sending us to wildfires alone!"
Naturally, Rick Scott thinks this is dandy. The expensive private attorneys hired to defend stupid decisions by the State (and they do very well the past few years) said the National Standards for Firefighters somehow don't apply to those firefighters who fight forest fires--because that makes sense.
Scott's Chief Labor Negotiator, Mike Mattimore, made some ludicrous statement along the lines that we would have to double up all high-risk jobs, like child protective investigators: "We can't go doubling them all up".
They estimate it would cost 2.9 million to bring them in compliance with national standards. Even assuming that is the case, I would be more inclined to believe that Rick Scott is just being fiscally responsible if it wasn't for the fact that he was recently demanding that the legislature spend $100 million to subsidize tourism executives!
But the difference is that 100 million helps his corporate backers whereas this only saves lives of some blue collar rescue workers. So screw 'em.
Tommy Price, President of the Florida State Fire Service:
“It really is amazing that when presented with a major safety concern like this of sending a firefighter alone to a fire at any time, someone in the Governor’s Office or DMS could not address the issue at their level and now these state firefighters have to go to the Legislator and beg them for this change…"
Retired Wildland Firefighter Sayer explained how small fires can turn to an inferno in no time:
Let me put this out there: As a single resource on a 25 acre fire one night, the wind shifted as I was headed up the right flank of this fire. I wasn’t even half way up the flank, so now I’m on the rear of a 50 acre fire.
He also smacked down the argument that sending one more firefighter would strain resources:
[The fire] required another District, 6 more dozers, 2 engines and extra Supervisors and took over 12 extra hours to put out what ended up being an 800 acre fire. Oh no, let’s not “tie up” one more firefighter when we can commit dozens later. Feel free to show this to the powers that be.
Wildfires in this state are devastating and deadly. Firefighters shouldn't have to beg to get the basic standard.
Throw them all out this November.