A Simple Equation
Drought + Cutting Fire Department Funding = Wildfires in Texas. Seems like an easy idea to grasp, so why did Texas lawmakers pass a bill allowing millions in funding to be cut from volunteer fire departments during a drought?
“Volunteer departments that were already facing financial strain were slated to have their funding cut from $30 million to $7 million, according to KVUE.
The majority of Texas is protected by volunteer fire departments. There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas and only 114 paid fire departments. Another 187 departments are a combination of volunteer and paid.”
That’s a cut of about 75%. So, now that wildfires rage across Texas, who are we counting on to help fight the fires? That’s right, the federal government.
FEMA must now step in because Governor Perry vowed to cut taxes: Taxes that went to the Texas Forest Service, who fund the volunteer firefighters across the huge state.
While the Texas governor has been highly critical of FEMA in the past, he told CBS’ Erica Hill that now was not the time to worry about reforming the agency.
“The issue is taking care of these people right now,” Perry insisted. “We can work our way through any conversations about how to make agencies more efficient, how to make Department of Defense equipment, for instance, more available. There are a lot of issues we can talk about, but the fact of the matter is now is not the time to be trying to work out the details of how to make these agencies more efficient. Let’s get people out of harm’s way.”
So instead of funding the state firefighters, let’s just rely more on the federal government to come clean up the mess. Sounds like a grade-A plan there, Perry.
The wildfires have not been restricted to the countryside, as mass media would lead you to believe. Large fires have been reported just outside major cities, like Houston. The Magnolia, Texas fires were less than 20 miles from the outskirts of Houston proper, well within the suburban area. The fires were out of control for two days, and it took three more to get them 90% controlled. Smoke covered the metropolis for nearly a week.
Just a few days later, George Bush Park, located in the heart of Houston, burst into flames. The heavily wooded area took over twelve hours to get under control and only favorable winds stopped it from spreading to local neighborhoods. The park is located at the intersection of two major highways and spreads to one of the most congested roads in Houston.
Those are just two samples of the effects of the drought combined with firefighter reduction. Why should huge cities, with a population well over 5 million, rely on FEMA to fight their fires?
Kate Croston is a freelance writer, holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing high speed internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to: katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.