Military service members, law enforcement officers, first responders, and firefighters are some of the most revered professions in the United States.
Since the events of September 11th, 2001, as we watched members of each of these professions rush into harm’s way to protect the innocent, the reverence of these brave men and women has only grown. But sadly, they are often politically exploited and more often than not the promises made to them are never delivered.
In America, we are told that military personnel are never to be questioned, often the defense budget sees annual increases in the hundreds of billions of dollars, and law enforcement sits at 700,000 strong in America.
And it took years for first responders and firefighters to receive healthcare benefits after 9/11 and we see time and time again city budgets slashing firefighting services in favor of law enforcement.
Such has been the case in Helena, Montana where a shrinking firefighting force within an old historic city is endangering the lives and property of its residents.
The question is, why has Mayor Smith continued to cut the budget for these services? Year after year, firefighter priorities are shrunk and their staffing is below full force. Could this be because Mayor Smith is a lobbyist for law enforcement officers helping increase their budget annually? That’s like having the fox guard the hen house.
It’s no wonder Mayor Smith’s 9/11 speech at the Montana Capitol was all about “Blue Lives Matter” while he said next to nothing about the work of the firefighters in attendance. You know, the firefighters who risk their lives running into burning buildings or towers, and are then likely to develop lung diseases or other types of cancer.
This is why the local Helena IAFF endorsed Jim Smith’s challenger for mayor, Wilmot Collins.
Helena firefighters aren’t asking for the moon just that their priorities and health matters too.