I recently found out that the Federal Department of Homeland Security has been doling out money since 2003 to states and state's emergency services to bolster our nation's security. Rural areas, as well as cities and municipalities, were offered available funding to help purchase equipment and pay for training.
In 2003, $750 million was made available for firefighter assistance grants from the '03 Budget to help rural, urban and suburban fire departments better train, prepare and equip themselves. Additional monies have been made available since then, and, our President is planning to have a six percent increase in Homeland Security's budget for 2007.
Sounds like a good idea, right?
I suppose it is good in theory. Fire departments, in particular, are one of the main responders to rescue and confront emergency situations. But that's just in theory.
We're dealing with the government here.
Somehow, the office of Homeland Security sees fit to prepare us from any terrorist threat that may be out there-anywhere and anytime. With emergency services better prepared we can not only impede terrorists from obtaining their destructive goals, but we can better respond to the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Aftermath: like smoldering cow turds.
The rural fire department of Golden Valley, North Dakota (pop. 176) was recently given $4,122 for "continued improvements and capital investments" of their fire department from the Department of Homeland Security. With these funds, the fire department has purchased practical items such as a door lock for the fire hall, a generator, two helmet protectors, and pagers.
One of the items on the recommended list that accompanied the check was binoculars. In theory, the fire department could use these to scan the horizon to look for enemy planes and strange activities taking place, that otherwise could not be readily seen with only the naked eye.
"We aren't going to use them for that though," said a member of Golden Valley's rural fire department. "We got something else we can look at," he added.
It seems that this part of the prairie is prone to wildfires from time to time. Fires that are not kept under control can advance very quickly in the prairie grasses. When there is a strong wind, it is even worse.
When the grass fires are all put out, there is one thing for the firefighters left to do. They climb up on the highest hilltop in view, and they survey the surrounding country with their newly purchased government binoculars to see if there are any stray fires to put out. Many of these fires continue to burn on cow droppings, especially if they are dry, since the grass contents of the poop are similar to those artificial logs a person puts in the fireplace.
"You'd be surprised how long those cow pies can burn," the Golden Valley volunteer informed me. "Sometimes, two, three days later they can fire up another blaze and then we'd just be out there again trying to put it out."