Will local fire departments be impacted by Washington cuts?

Posted at 6:33 AM, Feb 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-20 06:41:59-05

RICHMOND, VA (WTVR) -- Will local fire departments be impacted by Washington cuts? President Barack Obama believes so.

The so called "sequestration" is scheduled to take place at the end of February, cutting nearly a trillion dollars in government spending.

While the majority of cuts will affect the military, local public safety departments will be affected as well.

"Emergency responders - like the ones that are here today - their ability to help communities recover from disasters will be degraded," President Obama said.

Why will local fire departments be impacted?

Because The Department of Homeland Security issues several grants each year, grants that are often awarded to Central Virginia fire stations - grants, according to the President, that would be cut under sequestration.

"These cuts in Washington will make it difficult to win grants," Cpt. James Mellon of Henrico Fire told CBS 6.

Mellon doesn't expect any jobs lost but he does say losing out on the grants will make it harder for any new equipment to be purchased, equipment often used in the most severe emergencies.

"It will effect our teams - our specialty teams - but not our day to day operations," Mellon said.

Of course the cuts at places like the Henrico Fire Department pale in comparison to the possible cuts at bases like Fort Lee in Petersburg.

But Tuesday there was at least a reprieve from that drama as a brand new 85 million dollar, 1000 room, lodge was opened at the base.

"I don't think there is going to be one anytime soon that is this big," Col Rodney Edge said.

So the obvious question is why are these cuts scheduled to take place in the first place?

Two years ago, Congress passed these cuts as a means of compelling Democrats and Republicans to hammer out a long term deficit reduction solution.

President Obama, who is against the sequester now, originally signed this into law.

Virginia would be affected the most according to most estimates - potentially losing 200,000 jobs.