Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Firefighters Speak Out


WASHINGTON, March 3 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO (IAFF), Harold Schaitberger, issued the following statement today after President Bush unveiled new political ads that use images of fire fighters in September 11, 2001 attacks for political gain:

-- As Bush Trades on Heroism of Fire Fighters, His Homeland Security Funding Cuts Hurt Fire Fighters and Communities --

"I'm disappointed but not surprised that the President would try to trade on the heroism of those fire fighters in the September 11 attacks. The use of 9/11 images are hypocrisy at its worst. Here's a President that initially opposed the creation of the Department of Homeland Security and now uses its first anniversary as cause to promote his re-election. Here is a President that proposed two budgets with no funding for FIRE Act grants and still plays on the image of America's bravest. His advertisements are disgraceful.

"Bush is calling on the biggest disaster in our country's history, and indeed in the history of the fire service, to win sympathy for his campaign. Since the attacks, Bush has been using images of himself putting his arm around a retired FDNY fire fighter on the pile of rubble at ground zero. But for two and a half years he has basically shortchanged fire fighters and the safety of our homeland by not providing fire fighters the resources needed to do the job that America deserves.

"The fact is Bush's actions have resulted in fire stations closing in communities around the country. Two-thirds of America's fire departments remain under-staffed because Bush is failing to enforce a new law that was passed with bipartisan support in Congress that would put more fire fighters in our communities. President Bush's budget proposes to cut Homeland Security Department funding for first responders by $700 million for next year and cuts funding for the FIRE Act, a grant program that helps fire departments fund equipment needs, 33 percent by $250 million. In addition, state and local programs for homeland security purposes were reduced $200 million.

"We're going to be aggressive and vocal in our efforts to ensure that the citizens of this country know about Bush's poor record on protecting their safety and providing for the needs of the people who are supposed to respond in an emergency."