Jun 272012

Since 2010, the Republicans have cut the federal firefighting budget by more than $200 million.  

The resources for fighting fires in Colorado are so bad that a delegation was formed by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R -3d CD), Rep. Cory Gardner (R-4th CD), and Rep, Mike Coffman (R-6th CD) demanding  the  federal government provide more funds and equipment to help fight the expanding fires. 

It's unfortunate that all three of these U.S. Representatives demanding help for their home state also voted for the Paul Ryan budget cuts which would drastically reduce the funding for the federal firefighting program.  Rep. Paul Ryan claims he can meet the country’s needs by cutting back on “imprudent, irresponsible, and downright wasteful spending.”  Powerfulstorms.com wonders which category firefighting fall into: Imprudent, Irresponsible or Wasteful?

In response to the delegation's request, the U.S. Forest Service said it would add more aircraft to its aerial firefighting fleet.  

The current fleet of big air tankers which drop fire retardant is made up of Lockheed P-2Vs, anti-submarine patrol planes dating to the 1950s that have been modified with jets to supplement the piston engines. More than half of these planes are due to retire in the next 10 years.

 The number of large aircraft has steadily dwindled since 2004, when the Forest Service grounded 33 air tankers after a number of high-profile crashes.

The big tankers used to drop fire retardant are a key resource that is rapidly diminishing. There were 43 tankers a decade ago; now there are only 17. One tanker crashed last month, killing two pilots and another made an emergency landing when a landing gear failed to come down.

In addition, since the Republican plan cuts the firefighting fund, the U.S. Forest Service has been forced to request the assistance of Canada to help extinguish the fires.   Two aerial bombers are on loan from Canada and assisting the fight to extinguish the roaring blazes in Colorado.   At least three Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment planes  are helping elsewhere in the lower 48 states and an elite Canadian firefighting crew is en route to Colorado.  Last year Canada sent resources to help with wildfires in Texas and Alaska.

The Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs, Colorado erupted Saturday and has grown to cover over 15,500 acres and 32,000 residents are on mandatory evacuation including portions of the U.S. Air Force Academy.

 Governor John Hickenlooper says that the Waldo Canyon Fire is now the worse disaster to hit his state.  

  2 Responses to “Budget Cuts Hinder Efforts to Fight Colorado Fires”

  1. …and before the Republican trolls find this post and begin lying about how the President cut the funding and not these poor misunderstood Repug Congressmen let me throw some links up here because they never, EVER provide any documentation in support of their positions because they are all lies. Similar cuts to these were made last year and Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and others have been extremely vocal in their wishes to reduce the amount of federal funds to be provided to help firefighters, police, and teachers

    The following links show the cuts that were proposed and voted for by the Congressmen and which passed the Republican controlled House of Representatives. The Democratic controlled Senate managed to restore some of the money, but there were still cuts.

    Also please note that the International Association of Firefighters specificallydescribe President Obama’s proposed budget for them as “generous” and said:

    “I applaud the president for his continuing commitment to securing the livelihoods and well-being of fire fighters,” says IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger. “His budget will not only help put more fire fighters on the job today, but will give local communities the vital assistance they need to help jump-start our nation’s economy.”


  2. Ryan’s plan is irrelevant. The actual cuts to the Forestry Service were implemented by President Obama without any assistance from Ryan. The federal government cancelled the water bomber contracts. It had nothing to do with Ryan or the Colorado reps.