JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The deadline for sequestration is March 1st. The cuts will affect the First Coast in many ways, including emergency response.
If the cuts go through, FEMA would need to reduce funding for state and local grants that help support firefighter staffing. Although Jacksonville's Fire Union said it wouldn't directly impact the First Coast, we could see a trickle-down effect.
One grant that would be cut is the SAFER grant, which provides millions of dollars to cities across the state for staffing.
Even though Jacksonville isn't one of those cities, Randy Wyse, the President of the Jacksonville Fire Union, said in the event of a major disaster, like a hurricane or flooding, the cuts could start a trend of making it more difficult for other cities to respond.
"That's the most frustrating thing for a fire fighter: knowing that somebody is calling for help but having somewhat of a restraint put on you that says, 'Well, you can't leave quite yet because we have to see how we're going to pay for this.' That's horrible," Wyse said.
"That's the worst nightmare for a fire fighter is not being able to respond due to a budget concern," he adds.
According to the city, FEMA did grant SAFER funds to Jacksonville back in 2009, but it hasn't approved its requests since.
Just to give you an idea of how much funding other cities get for the SAFER grant, in 2012:
- Miami received $3.6 million
- Orlando received $5.2 million
- Atlanta received $3.2 million
For more information about the SAFER grant and other FEMA grants, click here.
First Coast News