Monday, January 31, 2005

Blame it on Grover

The next time your house catches fire and the fire department takes forever to arrive, you can blame Grover Norquist and the other anti-tax lunatics. Because cities and localities are increasingly crippled by Norquist's mania for "drowning government in a bathtub," people's lives are endangered. In fact, people are dying.

In Massachusetts, only 54 percent of local fire departments were able to reach 90 percent of building fires within six minutes, a standard set in 2001 by the National Fire Protection Association. People waited 10 minutes for firefighters at 214 building fires in 2002, the last year that data was available, and there have been 2,786 such fires since 1990.

Nationwide, only 35 percent of departments were able to meet the six-minute goal in 2002, compared to 75 percent in 1986, when alarm times first began to be collected.

“Fire protection in America is a myth,” said Vincent Dunn, a retired New York City Deputy fire chief and author of books on fire safety.

“These two subjects are the dirty little secrets of the fire service: The response times outside the center cities are too great, and the personnel responding, inside and outside the center cities, are too few. No one wants to talk about that.”
The Globe found that more than 4,000 people died in fires — or about five per week — in which the fighters took more than six minutes to respond. The actual number could be higher, because fewer than half of structure fires are reported to the database, and reporting is voluntary.

Think about that next time you agree with Grover that taxes are Bad. It might be you burning to death.

Or your children.


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