Fire/Rescue: Panel in Congress Seeks $54MFor Firefighters
(published by: Emergency Response Newsletter, 02 June 2004)
The Appropriations Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to convince the Bush administration to reprogram $54 million in existing Forest Service funds to pay for hiring 3,000 temporary firefighters, according to a published report
Western states (specifically Southern California, where 20,000 acres burned in the beginning of May) are having difficulty handling wildfire outbreaks, according to the report by GovExec.com. The appropriations panel and the Office of Management and Budget disagree about shifting funds from the Forest Service wildfire suppression account, which increased $247 million in Fiscal 2004, to the fire preparedness account, which decreased in Fiscal ’04.
According to GovExec.com, shifting the money from one account to the other will still leave shortfalls, since it could costs as much as $95 million to cover aircraft, fire shelters and the replacement of air tanker capacity. Last week, a contract for military surplus airplanes was halted because of safety issues.
Congressional aides indicated the Bush administration would rather transfer funds from non-fire accounts to make up for the deficit, but this would just cause shortfalls in other vital accounts, GovExec.com said.