Respectful of the work done by the Legislative Analyst Office (LAO), the firefighters of CAL FIRE Local 2881 are stunned that the LAO would reject the Governor’s proposal to increase firefighting staffing by 550 firefighters over five years. After three years of catastrophic fires and an acceptance of a new norm driven by climate change, growth, drought, and concomitant ills, it is unconscionable that dangerous arithmetic, premised on asking for yet another study, would supersede the safety of our communities and the health of overburdened firefighters who serve as the frontline responders during disasters.
“The Governor is absolutely right that the additional firefighters being added over a five-year period to CAL FIRE is not only needed, but long overdue,” said Tim Edwards, President CAL FIRE Local 2881. “It is a cold matter of fact that we have had firefighters in the field for weeks and even months at a time without any kind of break. The consequences of those kinds of hours are profound at both a public and personal level. The Governor recognizes that it cannot continue.”
Unfortunately, the LAO is looking at an old playbook, referencing a time when a clear fire season existed in California. Sadly, those days are gone. Firefighters for CAL FIRE respond year-round to emergency calls and take a lead role in assisting California to do its best to handle vegetation management, safer forests, secure communities, and an acceptance that only highly trained firefighters, with boots on the ground, make the ultimate difference.
We plan to invite the LAO to our academy and to visit firefighters in the field so that together we can share a more modern understanding of the emergency response necessary to protect our state.
“I have witnessed the personal cost of firefighters working in incendiary conditions for an unfathomable period of time. I stay awake at night worrying what health risk will be ascribed to these extended schedules working in poisonous conditions and breathing seriously compromised air. I am committed to working with the Governor and LAO in resolving this issue,” said Tim Edwards.
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