Jeff L. Thigpen Register of Deeds

Friday, August 27, 2004

Jeff speaks to Annual Conference of North Carolina State Fireman's Association!

I spoke on a panel at the NC State Fireman's Association ( ) this morning with Congressman David Price, NC House member Verla Insko, Paul Miller, Executive Director of the NC State Fireman's Association and Luther Fincher, Fire Chief for City of Charlotte.

We talked about how Fire Chiefs can establish communications with elected officials, how to build credibility, and effectively lobby elected officials with issues related to Fire Departments. We had a local, state and federal presence on the panel and it was good to hear all the varying viewpoints.

It was clear to me that our First Responders (Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement, and Health) are in a significant budget crunch at the Federal level. The federal COPS program is being cut; Homeland Security funding is shifting revenue around at a net decrease in overall funding for Fire fighters; and the overall bureaucracy is not getting money where it should go in some cases across the Board.

I am clear that its important for local officials to understand what our first responders do; hold them accoutable for the monies they have; and advocate where appropriate at the state and federal level to make sure new programs get the revenue needed for implementation.

I have seen what first responders do first hand through my own life in Burgaw through my father's accident as a child and as a commissioner related to the Campus Walk fire a couple of years ago in my district.

Unfortunately, tragedy usually has to strike in many cases before we provide the resources needed. The reactive approach is normal. I hope we can change our culture politically to get beyond petty bickering and do the right things to help our Fire Fighters and others who support us at our most vulnerable times.


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