Firefighters Respond to Trump: Disgraceful

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

“The head of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) on Wednesday blasted President Trump over his threat to stop sending federal funding to California to fight forest fires,” The Hill reported.

For the second time in less than 2 months, Trump inexplicably tweeted out Wednesday morning threatening to withhold federal aid for the recent deadly California wild fires that wiped communities off the map and displaced tens of thousands, writing he had “ordered FEMA to send no more money.”

General President Harold Schaitberger, the current head of the 99-year-old organization International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), representing over 313,000 firefighter and paramedic first-responders, responded to the president in an IAFF statement, “As Californians struggle to recover from a series of devastating wildfires, the president of the United States has launched another impulsive, reckless and uninformed tweet threatening to halt federal funding dedicated to helping fire fighters keep their communities safe.”

“This is yet another unimaginable attack on the dedicated professionals who put everything on the line, including their own homes, to protect their neighborhoods,” says Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “While our president is tweeting on the sidelines in DC, our fellow Americans 3,000 miles to the west are mourning loved ones, entire communities have been wiped off the map and thousands of people are still trying to figure out where they are going to call home.”

“The president’s tweet is disgraceful at a time when the government is under a self-imposed shutdown and the citizens of Paradise haven’t even been at their home sites in 30 days,” says President of the California Professional Firefighters Brian Rice. “This important funding would go toward literally helping this city rise from the ashes. To withhold it in a game of politics is insulting to the people of Paradise.”

President-elect of CAL FIRE Local 2881 Tim Edwards says, “A more responsible president, Theodore Roosevelt, realized the uniqueness of the West and the complex geography of our wildlands. The fire fighters who protect these precious forests, at the risk to their lives, safety and their own homes, understand that drought and climate change have made our task more difficult. Now is the time for us to work collaboratively for solutions, not to make unfair, dangerous assessments.”

Last year, unprecedented wildfire destruction in California burned an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — the Camp Fire, with 86 dead, is the deadliest wildfire in California history.

Wildfire season has now become a year-round event, with short-staffed departments and exhausted fire fighters spending weeks at a time on the frontline doing their best to keep communities safe. Further reduction of resources will only make things more dangerous for fire fighters and the citizens they have sworn to protect.


This is not the first time Trump has blindsided California with the threat of cutting off federal aid, the first time hitting them while the fires still raged and hundreds were still missing.

Trump, after approving an emergency declaration for the California’s wild fires aid, NBC’s KCRA 3 reported, shortly after, that evening, threatened to stop that aid, once again, tweeting, writing, “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly fires in California except that forest management is so poor” and “Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, and all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!” which caused an immediate backlash from the California Professional Firefighters (CPF) who represents more than 30,000 firefighters and paramedics.

President of CPF Brian Rice said in a CPF statement at that time, in part, “The president’s message attacking California and threatening to withhold aid to the victims of the cataclysmic fires is Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning to those who are suffering as well as the men and women on the front lines.

In an interview with KCRA, Rice “didn’t pull any punches” and also called the president’s behavior “disgraceful.”

“To have the president come and not just criticize forest management — which he doesn’t even realize how much of the forest is actually owned by federal government — but then he threatens to withhold any kind of aid or federal funding,” Rice said. “And I think the part that pisses me off is that we have hundreds of men and women on the line, serving their communities, which we are expected to do that, and we will always do that.”

Rice added that “no state (is) better prepared to deal with wildfire than California. To have the president of the United States come out the way that he did, it’s disgraceful.”


Later Trump wrote, in part, “Our hearts are with those fighting the fires” and “God bless them all.”

Leading up to all this, Trump had written,

“Governor Jerry Brown must allow the Free Flow of the vast amounts of water coming from the North and foolishly being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Can be used for fires, farming and everything else. Think of California with plenty of Water – Nice! Fast Federal govt. approvals.”


“California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean. Must also tree clear to stop fire from spreading!”

The statements left everyone puzzled, especially firefighters, management and residents of California because the fire was next to Clear Lake, one of the state’s largest lakes.

Politico reported at the time the president’s statement “drew an immediate reaction from veteran California GOP strategist Rob Stutzman, who responded via Twitter: “This is nuts’’ and also “low water IQ.”

“Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute, one of the state’s foremost experts on how the state manages its water, issued a tweet calling Trump’s latest missive “nuts” after labeling the president’s initial tweet “gobbledygook bullsh–.”” 

The president, Politico wrote, seemed to be listening and echoing California Republican “allies,” namely representatives Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy “who have long complained that the state unfairly prioritizes environmental uses for water over the state’s sprawling agricultural industry. Putting “fish over farms” is a popular formulation that has been invoked by Trump allies from California’s agricultural heartland.”

Following Trump’s tweet on the “environmental laws” Nunes took to his own social media, writing, “Forests should be managed properly and water should be allowed for farmers to grow food to feed people” and “for bringing much needed attention to our flawed environmental policies!”

Later in the month, in preparation for a trip to California to observe the California destruction, Trump was interviewed by Fox News’ Chris Wallace and blamed the fires on a ‘lack of raking of underbrush.”

Impulsive, reckless and uninformed. Ill-informed, ill-timed and demeaning. Disgraceful.

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