Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A message to All Fairfax County CERT members-please read.

Hi folks,
I thought today might be the perfect time to bring something to the attention of the Fairfax Co.CERT family. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem...............

The proposed fiscal year 2010 budget for the county reflects the current economic climate. This budget goes into effect on July 1, 2009, but is usually voted on and approved in January. The county has a large budget shortfall, so cuts have to be made. You can view the budget cutting proposals at http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/budget/ . The individual county departments,and their cost cutting proposals are broken down by "lines of business", or LOBs.

I want to bring to your attention the cost cutting proposals for the fire and rescue department. Our CERT program is administered under the auspices of the fire and rescue department. The cost cutting proposals that relate to this blog post are covered in the LOB's as "agency 92". Specifically, LOB 92-05 DIRECTLY affects our CERT program. Below is the full text of that budget cut proposal.

LOB 19 92-05 Volunteers $60,000 (slide 51)
Loss of this contribution will impact the Volunteer's ability to serve in a support role and enhance the mission of the Fire and Rescue Department.
Elimination of Program.

I know you're saying, "So how does that affect me?" Here's how-that $60,000 reduction will eliminate a position within the Office of the Volunteer Liaison within the county fire and rescue department. Here is how it was spelled out to me,word for word, from a member of the department....

" If the proposed cutting of this person's position were to occur, then the FRD (Fairfax Co. fire and rescue dept.)would be forced to cut the CERT program"

Clearly, this would affect EVERY CERT.....

"This person" in a CERT context is Dana Powers, a very sweet and capable person who administers the CERT program. She is the one that contacts you when classes start up, she is the one who makes sure you have the gear you need to take the training. She does a multitude of things to help make Fairfax County CERT the world class program it is. Without her, the CERT program goes away..........and the sad thing is that CERT is paid for by federal Homeland Security grant money. The county provides an administrator; that's it.

So, what can we as Fairfax County CERTs do about this problem? We need to make our voices heard. I know everyone who has taken CERT training is an enthusiastic supporter of the program. CERT helps us prepare ourselves and our families for disasters that may occur. Loss of the CERT program takes away the opportunity to train others about the need to prepare; to learn techniques that can save their own (and others') lives........

Here is an idea I came up with to try and stop this budget cut from occuring.

If every CERT wrote an email to our county executive AND to their district supervisor; we could at least make them aware that CERT is a useful program to Fairfax County.Here's how CERT is useful-we need to let them know this!

1. We are people who can help others in a disaster; rather than just being another hapless victim.

2.We can (and have) helped the fire department at events like Celebrate Fairfax-saving the county money by using a competent CERT volunteer rather than a paid employee for support functions.

3. In a disaster we CAN help the fire department-we did secondary searches of buildings as CERT 400 last week at the Capitol Shield exercise. We proved this last week.

4. Losing this one position effectively dissolves the CERT program in Fairfax County. The county LOSES a cadre of over 450 trained, motivated volunteers useful to county agencies. And volunteers cost NOTHING to the county.

5. The salary of one administrative position is a mere pittance compared to the help CERT members can provide to the residents of the county. Don't cut Dana's position!!!

Folks, here is a list of the county chairman and board of supervisors, by district. If you could send the chairman and your district supervisor an email, a phone call-let's make them aware that CERT is too important to lose!

You can get more information at this link: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/government/board/

Also,Here's a link to a district map, in case you are not sure of the district you live in. Thanks Micah!
Folks, those who know me know I am not a man to delve into politics. But, CERT is too important a program to lose.

your volunteer PIO