To borrow a phrase from a famous politician, it does “take a village” to assemble a fire department to provide protection to its residents. This easily falls under the proper role of local government. What it doesn’t take is the federal government to put out fires or rescue citizens from burning buildings.
However, the current administration seems intent on using any tool it can find to expand its domestic surveillance efforts. And if the firefighters fit the bill, then it’s time for a federal program to put them to work for the DHS.
Apparently this effort got started ten years ago as we discover from this NBC news report from 2007:
Firefighters in major cities are being trained to take on a new role as lookouts for terrorism, raising concerns of eroding their standing as American icons and infringing on people’s privacy.
Unlike police, firefighters and emergency medical personnel don’t need warrants to access hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings each year, putting them in a position to spot behavior that could indicate terrorist activity or planning.
But there are fears that they could lose the faith of a skeptical public by becoming the eyes of the government, looking for suspicious items such as building blueprints or bomb-making manuals or materials.
Source: NBC News
It would seem that the plan includes using firefighters, who typically are not thought of as law enforcement agents, to collect data on homeowners using tools such as “smoke detector tests” or other fire-safety inspections.
The plan has not gone away in the years since 2007, but continues today. National databases are in place.
If that’s the case, it’s a very creative use of subterfuge by some federal agency or agencies. Although with this administration and the natural tendency for central government control to increase as individual freedoms recede, the implementation of such a program is this comes as no surprise. We only wonder what other data-gathering plans might be in the pipeline.