I’ve already posted today, but I just got a piece of news that I cannot ignore. As a member of the Fire/Rescue/EMS community, I have a passion for fire safety and prevention. I’ve studied fire science and love the subject. I’ve seen many fires destroy homes that could have been prevented, lives upended by people who don’t educate themselves about the dangers of fire.
The US Department of Homeland Security has a grant program with a cap of $35M called the Fire Prevention & Safety Grant. The maximum grant allowed is $1M per organization. It’s a part of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program; the aim is to help fire departments acquire equipment, training for firefighters and education for the public. In Louisiana last month, some genius at DHS awarded nearly the full amount allowed to…wait for it…WAIT FOR IT…
I literally fell out of my chair when I read this a few minutes ago. It wasn’t news at the time because it was kept on the down-low. So was last year’s awarded grants, nearly HALF of which went to ACORN. That organization does absolutely nothing–nothing!–to further fire safety or prevention education whatsoever, and their mission statement never goes into it. So what the hell is anyone doing awarding a first-responders grant to ACORN?
Janet Napolitano, who used to be my state’s governor (don’t ask me how), refused to comment to the media. She had her spokesman say that they will respond directly to Louisiana State Senator Vitter–because “we don’t respond to correspondence through the media.” Translation: we’re not going to do anything to make ourselves look any more stupid than we already have.
Newsflash, Napolitano–you’re just about too late.
A small-town fire department in Louisiana applied for a paisley $120,000 in grant funds to buy smoke detectors for low-income families in the wake of a home fire that killed four kids. They lost that grant to ACORN. Many fire departments lost grant money to ACORN for no visible reason. A similar thing happened last year–we wasted more than $450,000 in the same grant fund on ACORN, and that was during the Bush years! Who the hell makes these decisions?
I wasn’t able to find out. There’s little to nothing on the webpage, except a suggestion to email the program’s directorate. There’s little to no information available on the decision process–who gets what. Bureaucracy in action.
It took exactly minutes from the time that the news broke on firerescue1.com for the Obama administration to suddenly sit up and notice the incredible flub. They’ve now said that ACORN will receive none of these funds.
My problem isn’t that their funding wasn’t cut soon enough. According to government sources, as soon as the sting videos were posted and Congress voted to cut their funding, DHS followed suit to revoke the grants they’d been awarded. What galls me is that a grant for first responders–money meant to help firefighters, paramedics and dispatchers make their communities safer through fire prevention and safety education–was ever awarded to ACORN at all. They’re not involved in educating the public about fire prevention. They don’t have any fire experts in their employ. So how did this happen?
It shouldn’t have. They never should have gotten a dime of that money, not last year, and sure as hell not this year. The idea that a group completely uninvolved in public safety won such a massive amount of money supposedly for that sole purpose has got me all fired up, and I’m not letting this one go.
I’ve shot an email to DHS and FEMA reps. I’ll let you know what I get in response.