IAFF Response to Trump Tweet Threatening to Cut Federal Funds for Wildfire Response

January 15 • 2019

As Californians struggle to recover from a series of devastating wildfires, the president of the United States has launched another impulsive, reckless and uninformed tweet threatening to halt federal funding dedicated to helping fire fighters keep their communities safe.

“This is yet another unimaginable attack on the dedicated professionals who put everything on the line, including their own homes, to protect their neighborhoods,” says Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “While our president is tweeting on the sidelines in DC, our fellow Americans 3,000 miles to the west are mourning loved ones, entire communities have been wiped off the map and thousands of people are still trying to figure out where they are going to call home.”

“The president’s tweet is disgraceful at a time when the government is under a self-imposed shutdown and the citizens of Paradise haven’t even been at their home sites in 30 days,” says President of the California Professional Firefighters Brian Rice. “This important funding would go toward literally helping this city rise from the ashes. To withhold it in a game of politics is insulting to the people of Paradise.”

President-elect of CAL FIRE Local 2881 Tim Edwards says, “A more responsible president, Theodore Roosevelt, realized the uniqueness of the West and the complex geography of our wildlands. The fire fighters who protect these precious forests, at the risk to their lives, safety and their own homes, understand that drought and climate change have made our task more difficult. Now is the time for us to work collaboratively for solutions, not to make unfair, dangerous assessments.”

Last year, unprecedented wildfire destruction in California burned an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — the Camp Fire, with 86 dead, is the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Wildfire season has now become a year-round event, with short-staffed departments and exhausted fire fighters spending weeks at a time on the frontline doing their best to keep communities safe. Further reduction of resources will only make things more dangerous for fire fighters and the citizens they have sworn to protect.

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