Head of State Firefighters Association Criticizes Lack of Fire Funding

The president of the State Firefighters Association says the blazes burning across the region should convince Californians to invest more in firefighting resources.

Frank Stoltze: California State Firefighters Association President Kevin Nida says it should be clear to anyone who's watched the news this week.

Kevin Nida: Everyone has seen it on TV. There's no sugarcoating it. We don't have enough resources. We need Sacramento's help. We need our local officials' help to convince the taxpayers that additional fees and funds are required.

Stoltze: In the wake of major fires four years ago, a blue ribbon panel offered a wide range of recommendations for strengthening the state's firefighting capabilities. State Senator Christine Kehoe sat on that panel. She concedes that plenty on the list – more firefighters, more water dropping helicopters – did not get funded amid demands for more money for education, health care, and law enforcement.

Senator Christine Kehoe: Is it politically feasible and fiscally feasible to fund the entire roster of blue ribbon recommendations? At this point, I think we'd have to do a lot of public education to get there.

Stoltze: Kehoe notes that the recommendation to upgrade the state's fire communications systems would, by itself, cost upwards of $7 billion. Kehoe, who's from San Diego, concedes that her county could improve its local firefighter funding too. San Diego has yet to form a consolidated county fire department.