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Rankin among police, firefighters asking Sen. Murray for support
EVERETT Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin was one of several Snohomish County first-responders and law enforcement agents to appeal to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to prevent the presidents proposed budget from cutting Homeland Security grants for cities and states.
Rankin was joined by firefighters and police officers from Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood and Monroe, as well emergency managers for Naval Station Everett and Snohomish County, at Snohomish County Fire District 1 in Everett Feb. 21, where they shared their concerns with Murray, alongside Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick and Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon.
Rankin began his remarks by echoing Everett Police Chief Jim Scharfs assertion that hometown security is the cornerstone of Homeland Security.
Were at the next frontier of growth in Snohomish County, Rankin said. The $450,000 in federal fire assistance grants that the Arlington Fire Department has received have been critical in allowing us to continue to do our jobs.
The Arlington Fire Department has used those funds to upgrade their radios, which Rankin explained should maintain interconnectivity between fire agencies, by allowing them to communicate even in the event of disasters.
Additional staffing is also important, Rankin said. We need more firefighters and paramedics to provide an adequate level of safety. To ensure this remains a good place to live, we have to take care of it.
Rankins concern with preserving public safety inspired him to speak up on behalf of funding law enforcement as well.
I dont want to be known as a firefighter who supports funding police officers, Rankin joked, drawing laughter from the room. My position is on behalf of fire and emergency medical services, but our people are already overtaxed, because for some of the people we serve, emergency medical care is the only medical care they get. Im concerned with gangs, because if they grow, were putting our firefighters at an extra risk when they enter those areas. Thats why were all sitting around this table, because we all have to work together to solve these problems, rather than just as individual agencies.
The presidents budget proposes to reduce Homeland Security grants to $1.4 billion in 2009, a reduction of $2 billion from the fiscal year 2007 budget. Murray promised the assembled fire and police chiefs that she would use their input to fight these budget cuts.
This gives me a sense of whats going on, on the ground, Murray said.