January 23, 2009
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Go back a year to last January and ask yourself if you could have ever imagined the $700 billion bank bailout, Fannie May and Freddie Mac crumbling down, the big three automakers pleading for the government’s assistance just to stay afloat for a few months and receiving $23.4 billion and the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) failures in the former Nasdaq chairman Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion embezzlement scheme case. If we thought that the failures of the years before, such as Enron and the bottomless pit of the home foreclosures were bad enough, these recent economic failures broke the paradigm and dragged us to a new low; where even the term “billion” has lost its true significance and value.
It is during these tough economic times that the fire service will be facing the challenging task of reauthorization for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program that is due to expire in 2010. In October, Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Service Institute (CFSI), wrote an article titled “Working Together to Sustain Federal Support for Fire and SAFER Funding”. In that article, Bill reminded us of the political nature of this effort, especially during the current economic environment, stressed the importance of the unity of purpose and active participation and pointed out that, “everyone in the fire service plays a vital role in continuing the grant process”