Letters to the Editor

Feedback: Cuts put public safety at risk

To set the record straight on your article on Sept. 4, (“Navy plans firefighter cuts), Commander, Naval Installations (CNI), paid TriData to analyze Puget Sound Federal Fire Department to increase efficiency and to reduce costs. They did not recommend eliminating an engine company. They stated, “Total staffing appears appropriate . . . and because of the demand for services and risks associated with daily operations there are few opportunities to reduce staffing.” The ONLY redundancy mentioned referred to management.

DoD Inspector General also released a report (#D-2003-121) discussing how shortfalls for staffing of Federal Fire Departments could adversely impact firefighter safety and installation missions. A letter sent from Commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command agreed with this report, as did the Department of Army and Air Force.

Although true, our primary responsibility is to NAS Whidbey, we are also tasked to respond to HAZMAT emergencies and CBRNE-CM (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosives-Consequence Management) through DoD Directives, Federal Response Plans, FEMA, the Stafford Act and even NAS Whidbey Instruction 3440.1G.

These cuts are made through Risk Management, meaning the Navy is willing to risk public safety and the well-being of its firefighters in order to re-allocate funds. The Department of the Army and Air Force are trying to increase staffing to meet the demands placed on them by federal regulations and to support their local communities.

If you value these services and do not want to see them diminished I suggest you contact your Congressman or Senator and voice your concerns.

Chris Hiteshew

Firefighter

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