According to KVUE-TV (Austin, Texas), the state of Texas, under Gov. Rick Perry, cut state funding for the volunteer fire departments that protect most of the state from wildfires. Firefighters have actually been dipping into their own pockets to fight fires.
Volunteer departments that were already facing financial strain had their funding cut from $30 million to $7 million. There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas; 114 are paid fire departments, while 187 departments are a combination of volunteer and paid.
At a press conference Monday, Perry promised to seek federal disaster relief and said that FEMA would be in the state by Wednesday.
Human Events Magazine had an interesting article by Audrey Hudson regarding the federal government grounding firefighting planes over a contract dispute at a time when they are really needed. I would suppose that the implication was that the Obama administration should not have done that.
Well, OK, that is certainly part of the story: the planes that were grounded were seven P3 Orion aircraft. The only way that you can get hold of one of those aircraft is if they have been RETIRED from service from the US Navy. You don’t just go to the store and buy one. They are old- very very old. Considering what Governor Perry had already done to decimate the Texas fire service, it is hard to see where those seven Orions would have made any difference. HOWEVER what the US defense department did (presumably with the President’s knowledge) was to immediately re-equip six C130 Hercules aircraft as firefighting aircraft. The re-equipment procedure involves rolling a large module into the cargo hold. The C130 was designed to carry large-heavy cargos. The aged Orion NEVER was. Texas got the better of that deal.
Good going, Mr. President.