Trump’s threat to cut funding for California wildfire relief ‘disgraceful,’ firefighters union says

The head of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) on Friday called President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate GOP proposes constitutional amendment to keep Supreme Court at 9 seats Ex-inmate credits Kim Kardashian West for helping find his new home Eric Holder: 'We're really at the beginning' of questions about Trump obstructing justice MORE’s latest threat to cut emergency aid to California for wildfires “disgraceful,” saying such a move would undermine the work of firefighters in the state.

IAFF President Harold Schaitberger argued that Trump is focused on building a border wall while overlooking parts of the country that need protection, including communities in California impacted by the deadly forest fires.

“They’re watching him focus on securing other elements of our nation, including the borders…but securing our communities from fire and emergency medical events is also part of securing our nation,” Schaitberger told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on “Rising.”

The president tweeted Wednesday that he had ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to withhold funding for California unless the state improves its forest management to prevent wildfires.

Schaitberger said the "disgraceful tweet" went “right to the heart of undermining the other part of our security network, and that’s the firefighters in this nation.”

Schaitberger leads the union that represents full-time firefighters and emergency medical services personnel in the U.S. and Canada. He said he met with firefighters in California and that they expressed disappointment over Trump’s handling of the situation.

“To see, at least or read, a president that doesn’t seem to understand not just their personal devastation and loss but their commitment to providing the services to secure our communities at that level — it’s a conflict in terms at best and more than disappointing,” he told Hill.TV.

Schaitberger said that at least 47 union members in California were personally impacted by the deadly Camp Fire.

Wildfires devastated California last year, with the Camp Fire in the northern part of the state killing at least 85 people and destroying thousands of homes. The blaze marked the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.

Schaitberger’s comments follow Trump's tweet on Wednesday about using forest management to prevent wildfires.

“Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money,” Trump tweeted. He had sent out a similar statement earlier but deleted it after misspelling “forest” twice.

While Schaitberger acknowledged that forest management could be improved, he argued that Trump’s attempt to blame California’s wildfire problems on the state’s management of forests makes the president come across as “uninformed.”

“It’s unfortunate that the president seems uninformed as it relates to what really is at stake and where these fires are really being created,” he said.

“Forest management is an issue, but the fires we see devastating communities all across California are not really fires within the true forest regions,” he said, noting that the majority of the burned area in 2018 happened on federal land.

This week wasn't the first time Trump has threatened to withhold federal aid for wildfires in California.

As multiple wildfires raged through the region, Trump in November blamed the devastation on the state’s “gross mismanagement of the forests,” and said he would take away federal funding if officials don’t “remedy the situation.”

California officials are taking more steps to address the increasing intensity of wildfires.

Newly minted Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has already signed two executive orders pertaining to wildfires. Both measures aim to bolster the state's fire prevention and firefighting tactics.

—Tess Bonn