Not so simple, Mark.
" All they needed was a $2000 inflatable
No, not for any business much less for a governemnt agency. Buying
"just" needs $2000. Now you need to add a maintenance
line for it, and a storage
line, and rules for operation and who and when it may be operated or transported. Where do you dock
it? Or how do you launch it? Details, just details, but the purchase price
is usually the least part of the ongoing cost of these things.
"Shouldn't there be federal requirements as to emergency
services capabilities? As it looks like individual cities can't be relied upon to make the decisions themselves."
Well, that's a totally separate issue. There is no federal mandate to mess in these areas and as you may be aware, our federal government
is actually prohibited from messing around in State affairs unless specifically authorized to do so. State public safety
issues are State matters, not Federal ones.
Of course Congress can get clever and say "If you want federal budget
dollars, your programs will have to meet federal standards for the following programs..." And Congress has indeed done that. If a state wants the federal government
to pay for militia operations, the state must be enrolled in the National Guard
program and the troops must be federalized, formally, or else the state pays their own bill. (That's right, National Guard deployments are "federalized" deployments of state forces, who may also be deployed at home as "State Guard" "Home Guard" "State Militia" or other terms, in which case the state
has to absorb all the expenses.)
If the State wants civil "defense" (emergency responder) programs like CERT teams to be funded, they have to meet a long list of DHS criteria.
Of course that also means the junior Senator from Montana is going to be deciding how to fund California
water rescues. Do you really think that's a good way to run things? Or necessary at all, much less feasible?
Every state probably gets federal funding
for interstate highways and similar roads--and as part of the deal, they have to use uniform signage and meet other federal criteria. Same same for many many programs.
And if the local "Chief" tells his personnel to stand down and watch...it still won't matter who set the standards, will it?