Prince George’s County Fire Investigator Brandon Goff responded to the White House on Tuesday morning along with other local firefighters and police officers, but they left the fire engines and cruisers behind.
Goff and the others, dressed in their Class A uniforms, stood behind President Obama as he spoke about how the pending $85B in cuts would prevent communities from paying firefighters, responders, police officers and teachers.
During the speech, Obama voiced concern about the country being able to monitor and respond to threats not only in the United States, but around the world.
Goff said it’s important Congress get back to work, and pass something that stops the massive cuts.
He added that the SAFER grant has allowed Prince George’s County Fire and EMS to hire firefighters. And, departments across the country also have relied on the federal money to prevent layoffs, and hire responders.
Without SAFER, the safety of both firefighters and residents could be in jeopardy as the staffing levels would decline, Goff said.
“We’ve made strides to increase the number of firefighters on crews,” Goff said in a telephone interview shortly after his White House visit. “We’re trying to get away from two-man stations, and we’re not going to be able to abolish that if the cuts go through.”
Firefighter safety is a grave concern when the engines go out without enough staffing, he said, adding that while volunteers assist, there are times when they are not available.
Goff said it was an honor to meet Obama, and visit the White House.
“This affects me not only as a firefighter, but as a middle class person. I really don’t think they (Congress) understand how it’s going to affect us. They need to do their job…”
Goff said before the Tuesday morning press conference, Obama shook hands with each of them. “He said a few things, and we got a group picture with him.”
Afterward, he thanked them for coming, and shook hands with the firefighters from Washington, D.C and Fairfax County and Anne Arundel County police officers before leaving.
“It’s going to affect all of us in public safety – firefighters, EMS and police officers…”
Goff said he’ll be sharing his memories about his trip to the White House and shaking hands with the president with his family for years to come.