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The Life You Save May Be Your Own

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America is at the banks of the Rubicon right now. I’m not sure if people know it. I’m raising the alarm as if your lives depended on it, because they do. Our leaders are marching us toward disaster, and we must not follow.

Incidents of understaffed, underfunded fire departments are increasing in frequency.  You hear about them when someone suffers a preventable death or loss of property.  Unfortunately, civilian reporters generally don’t have the training and background to analyze these stories in context. What usually ends up happening is the public perceives an inadequate response and blames the individual firefighters and police involved, such as we saw in Obion County, Tennessee and Alameda, California.

Those of us who work in uniform see a much different picture, more in keeping with this incident in Ipswich, Massachusetts. The idea that there are overstaffed fire stations wasting money all over this country is simply not backed by any sort of reality checking.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, John Boehner and Eric Cantor are calling for even deeper cuts to public safety and emergency response. The idea that civilian politicians better understand how to staff and run fire stations is absurd, yet it appeals to many in this time of recession.  When you’re not sure of the facts or how to analyze a conflict, look at the parties.  Ask yourself, who do you trust more – politicians or firefighters? Which group would you trust with your life?

Ohio is a battleground. If their firefighters – who know from firsthand experience which policies save lives and which ones cost lives – are silenced, people will die. If you’re in Ohio, vote NO on Issue 2.  Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell everyone you see.

If you’re not in Ohio, pay attention. This war on public safety is coming soon to your home town. Firefighters need your help. Fight for your homes and families now, while you still can. Empower us to save you.

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About Xavier Onassis, EMT-P

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But don’t you know it’s patriotic now to cut the pay and benefits of teachers, cops, firefighters, and all the others who just go in and collect taxpayer dollars for doing hardly any work at all? It’s the hedge-fund managers who are the real backbone of the American workforce! That’s why we need zero capital gains taxes!

  • Well said, sir. We should be ashamed of ourselves!

  • Baronius

    The link you provided has nothing to do with Boehner and Cantor calling for cuts in public safety and emergency response.

  • Thanks for commenting.

    From the linked page:

    “House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) says any federal disaster relief will have to be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget.

    In an interview with Fox News, Cantor said the House will find the money, but comparing the federal government to a family’s budget said “we’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to do so.””

    The “savings elsewhere” they reference have been more specifically stated as cuts to FEMA. If you would like a more in-depth citation about Boehner and Cantor’s requests for cuts to FEMA, please advise and I can find that for you.

    Best wishes,
    Xavier Onassis

  • Glenn Contrarian

    But dontcha know that FEMA is a huge waste of our Precious Taxpayer Dollars? Just let the local churches and charities take care of their own, and the conservatives are absolute in their surety that churches and charities are MORE than willing to shell out billions and billions of dollars in aid, year after year after year, while those evil government bureaucrats just sit on their patooties raking in our Precious Taxpayer Dollars!

    Yes, those churches and charities are SO much more capable than the federal government when it comes to rebuilding roads and bridges and schools and power lines and sewer systems and everything else that gets devastated in a natural disaster!

  • Baronius

    Xavier – Your article is about firefighters. You fail to make any connection between FEMA’s recovery fund and first responders. However, by mentioning possible cuts in public safety and emergency response, you imply that Congressional Republicans have some connection to firefighting budgets.

  • Baronius

    Thanks for commenting.

    Keep in mind that I’m working with a word limit for this article, and cannot fully cover this huge topic.

    Regarding specifically FEMA’s recovery fund, please note that local agencies rely on federal funding in times of increased demand, as well as assistance with general operating funds. With local tax bases shrinking, shortfalls are no longer being met by federal supplements. Boehner and Cantor are certainly prime movers.

    Cantor has an especially bad reputation among firefighters:

    “Cantor’s Plan Trades Disaster Funds For Huge Cuts To First Responders
    …The GOP bill cuts funds to train and equip first responders by 40 percent, which comes on top of a 19 percent cut for the current fiscal year.


  • 2 of 3

    In fact, the version of the bill that came to the House floor included hundreds of millions of dollars in GOP-sponsored that cuts would’ve caused approximately 2,200 firefighters across the country to lose their jobs…For his part, Eric Cantor joined just 86 of his Republican colleagues in voting against restoring the firefighter funding…

  • Again, I’m working within a word limit, and cannot cover this entire topic in one article.

    Best wishes,
    Xavier Onassis

  • bill

    I once applied to be a fire fighter. So did 2000 others. For 2 available positions.
    It’s way too good of a deal. They should be paid less.

  • Hi Bill

    Thanks for commenting.

    I’m guessing that you applied for a big-city department with a proud tradition, i.e., FDNY, Boston, or Chicago. Those departments always generate that kind of response. The pay scale isn’t generally the prime motivator in my experience.

    In 2008 I volunteered on the county department where I lived. At the end of the year I received a check for $10 for each call I ran. I couldn’t afford to work there part-time. If I recall correctly, they paid $6.85 per hour. I merited a slightly higher scale for having paramedic certification.

    At any rate, your wish for lower firefighter pay is quickly coming true. Let me know how that works out.

    Best wishes,
    Xavier Onassis

  • bill

    It was Hamden, CT.
    I agree, not necessarily the pay, but maybe when combined with the lifelong health benefits, the 20 year service requirement, pension that gets based on the 2 years of highest pay including overtime (most firefighters seem to have an abundance of overtime during their last 2 years), periodic raises on their pensions once retired, and a work week that allows enough free time to run a business on the side.
    Not a bad career for high school graduates.
    XO, I’ve just watched so many of the people I know quit the private sector and move to the public sector, and they sure as hell don’t look back. At first they all complained about the union taking their money, but not anymore. Now they’ve become so darned righteous with their pay, and benefits, and think the private sector should sacrifice more.
    I might add, most, if not all, vote democrat. It just seems predictable.
    I just think that because the private sector pays for the public sector, it is more important. There should always be a natural flow of workers from public to private sectors for personal gain. There is not.
    I applaud that you did the volunteer thing.

  • Hi Bill

    Thanks for commenting.

    In terms of them voting (D), I will suggest that that’s because it’s in CT. Believe me, in the red states 99% of the public safety people vote (R). In the purple states they probably do vote (D), because Democrats do support organized labor, and especially recently have been the only ones fighting for us.

    I’m OK with the public sector setting the bar for good treatment of workers. It’s like grading on the curve – if one person gets 100, then everybody else has to do better. I can also assure you that Team 911 lives with insane stress factors that you never see. PTSD and alcoholism are rampant, among other problems.

    As I said before, we’re in the process of having your vision of lower pay and benefits, and less staffing and funding for public safety, come into effect. Personally I predict disaster.

    Best wishes
    Xavier Onassis