Trump wins: the elephant in the fire, EMS dayroom

Trump wins: the elephant in the fire, EMS dayroom

11 November 2016

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USA —   There are a great many more questions than answers surrounding what President-elect Trump will do once he takes office next January.

And there’s good reason for this.

His campaign was light on policy details. And when details were shared, they were often criticized as undoable by liberal, moderate and conservative subject experts.

There’s also the gulf separating what candidates say on the campaign trail and what they do in the oval office — regardless of the party they represent.

The questions from the campaign about how a President Trump would influence the fire service are the same as they were in July. The issues of grant funding, firefighter health and safety, wildland fire protection and medical call volume and billing are still big question marks. You can toss into that mix the future roles of such agencies as FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration.

But the real elephantine question in the room is how will the Trump administration and the new Congress impact the U.S. and global economies? That outcome may well dictate how the other issues play out — as the head goes, so goes the body.

The Great Recession that we are still recovering from hit fire departments especially hard. Drops in municipal tax income led to career departments laying off firefighters and leaving vacancies unfilled. Some volunteer departments had to close shop over lost funding.

Departments also delayed purchasing everything from new fire stations, to rigs, all the way down to needed turnout gear. And many of them eliminated or reduced services like fire prevention and fire inspections.

Worst-case scenario

These cutbacks all negatively impact firefighters’ ability to come home safe after each call and effectively protect their communities.

Compounding recessionary funding cuts are increases in calls for service. Recessions push those households who are just getting by into poverty. And this is an equal-opportunity force that doesn’t care if the household is in a rural or urban setting.

Studies show a correlation between poverty and increased use of EMS, risk of urban fires, risk of rural fires and risk of wildland-urban interface fires. Increased poverty will also lead to more crime and more civil unrest, both put firefighters and medics at greater peril and drain precious resources.

To be clear, a Trump victory does not guarantee a new recession. There are way too many factors in play to make that call.

We don’t know what his cabinet will look like, how much he will listen to his advisors, what his priorities will be or how he will work with Congress. We don’t know who will sit at the head of key Senate and House committees. And we don’t know if the economic plans he puts in motion will work.

Yet several economists, including those from the libertarian Cato Institute and the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute, fear that if Trump is able to push through much of what he proposed on the campaign trail, a new recession is inevitable.

In short, they say that his proposed high tariffs would kick off a trade war and that massive tax cuts without spending cuts — coupled with major infrastructure and military spending — would lead to huge deficits and debt.

Some believe the massive infrastructure spending and tax cuts will provide economic growth — similar to stimulus measures used during our last recession. But, they say, that growth is likely to be temporary.

How the short- and long-term economy plays out under our newly elected government isn’t the only question firefighters need to concern themselves with, but it is the largest question.

Government has urged Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldiers who are deployed to guard Viphya Plantation against destruction to be vigilant by dealing with the perpetrators accordingly.Msaka (left) walking in the plantantion

Msaka (left) walking in the plantantion

Minister of Mines, Energy and Natural Resources, Bright Msaka, made the statement Tuesday after touring the plantation, especially areas under the jurisdiction of Total Land Care and Raiply Malawi Limited.

Incidences of fire destroying numerous hectares of trees every year have been a never-ending song for the Viphya Plantation for over a decade now. The plantation is shared by two districts of Mzimba andNkhata Bay.

However, the issue has raged on in spite of efforts by government and its stakeholders to plant trees and guard them against destruction. Reports have indicated that more often, the fires that destroy the plantation are deliberately set rather than accidental.

The minister said government is aware that some disgruntled workers and individuals whose licences were cancelled are the ones setting fires in the plantation.

“People need to know that this is a national asset, so if the department of forestry has denied somebody a licence for the reasons best known by the department, they are supposed to understand instead of setting fires,” he said.

To mitigate the challenge, Msaka said government deployed MDF soldiers in protected forests across the country as a way of scaring people from destroying the plantations.

In spite of the effort, some people are still setting parts of the Viphya Forest on fire, regardless of the size of trees.

“We have directed the Malawi Defence Force solders to deal with anyone setting bush fires and operating in the forest without licences and that the law will take its course [against them],” he warned.

However, Msaka commended Raiply Malawi Limited and Total Land Care for utilizing the forest sustainably and adding value to the trees from the forest.

“In the past, we have been cutting trees or sawing and selling them abroad at a very cheap price. We behaved like a prodigal son who squandered all what his father gave him.

“We need to be very careful and be proud of what we inherited so that we can benefit from it and pass on those benefits to the next generation,” advised the minister.

Earlier, Chief Executive Officer of Raiply Malawi Limited, Thomas Oomen, cited bush fires and encroachment as major challenges facing his company.

“This year alone, we have lost about 526 hectares [of trees] to bush fires, unfortunately, most of  these trees are below 15 years old but they are supposed to be harvested at the age of 25. This is dooming our future,” said Oomen.

Chikangawa Forest consists of seven plantations comprising 53,000 hectares.

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