Mon, 8 Feb 2010|
Bill Webb of the Congressional Fire Services Institute talks to Bobby Halton at FDIC 2008.
I -- welcomes on the road -- -- we're live from FDIC 2008 and we're here with bill web. The director of the congressional fire services institute. An old friend of FDIC and a great friend of mine -- thank you this morning for giving us the update. What's happened congressional -- services institute. As we always do and on the road just a quick thumbnail to the folks who may be new to the fire service new viewers. What is the congressional our services to what does it do the American for a -- And and how books become a member and it's us it's a very small amount of money kingdom of the slowest fifteen dollars -- 25 dollars is that -- -- so. And trust me. You know this video go to the website it's. Www. -- if -- site on -- -- -- dot -- congressional forresters institute CF but aside dot org. Spent fifteen books support these guys. And by the end of this brief conversation we're gonna have here you will understands that this fifteen -- appreciate that. They'll tell us about the congressional our services to first -- all electric. Kiefer allow us here are your programs and outstanding program and it's an incredible -- -- for the Prager show off their country you have done in terms of educating our shares. About trying to get involved more with their local officials -- paid dividends for for the departures muscles thank you. The institute itself we -- formed back in 1989 were nonprofit -- policy institute in -- basic mission is to work with members of congress to educate them about the core issues that are affecting farmers services. You know there there are organizations out there doing outstanding work for their constituencies the idea that the diocese Ian PA and yes the -- -- -- But the purpose of our mission is to bring those organizations together in rally -- again around those core issues. In in -- that synergy using that energy -- among those organizations. And in in use -- for the collective good the fire service in terms of educating congress about what is out there what are the what are the true needs of the -- service. And you know -- the federal government for 350 years related have a significant role. In in in providing local funding for the fire service but you know since you know obviously since the tragedies of nine elevenths there has been a wake up call on Capitol Hill. You know congress wants to understand him like what do we really need to do to help prepare the -- -- -- you know for this 22 million calls that that occur you know throughout the year. So again our our our primary mission is to bring everybody together to bring congress together and to bring the fire shares together in really think about it what can we do -- -- Do you do that and we do the congressional or services dinner where we actually sit down with congressmen and senators and -- -- the collection accounts is pretty impressive yeah. And that's one of them I think most most are fighting for a familiar with that. But all during the year you -- on and Tony Tony Scott top Thomas this guy -- -- -- -- guy he's a firefighter and Kara competitive globally staff who you're up there on the all time -- they have a question you guys try to answer them. We provide a number of services throughout the year we'll do you know we'll be training programs will take congressional staff members congress outlet right around on fire apparatus for an evening. What do training programs -- Katrina facility at the University of Maryland put him in the -- back here. And friendly -- -- on the one bingo that you let him play firefighter for days or the water you know on fire put among the turn back here let them you know going to -- controlled -- environment. You know what radios with all the equipment. But what this stuff up on the hill on on on on average weekly basis monthly basis we'll do workshops will will will bring together folks from the fire administration will bring folks from from US -- service. He talked about some of these issues you know talk about wild -- problems and in in what's what's going on out there in terms of you know the challenges faced their fire service and responding to those wildfires. The communication issues you know we'll bring -- experts from IFC and from -- -- In from the communications. Side of the equation. Bring them up on Capitol Hill and tell him with the but the problem is in terms of radio interoperability. In the need for more broadcast spectrum. We answer questions on a daily basis from congress you know you know pro keel issues issues happening at the local level. It again it's it's very objective information we're not putting any pressure on on members of congress not a lobbyist organization. For user friendly and and our job is again just to get the more engaged you know. Up on Capitol Hill and back at the local level what can they do to help their local fire departments. I've become better trained better equipped. One of the things I learned about -- organization that those interest and is the resolution process where. If you're a member of the arson investigators of the IF after the IFC or. National volunteer fire council. Area and even if your friend isn't usually the magazine didn't -- myself Harvey. All the major -- -- on this. National advisory board didn't -- reporter resolution to you what do you do with those resolutions how to set what happens when someone -- -- -- -- -- We need to look at that are wild land interface. -- ability for example yet. You know we have overall in the fire service -- in the way we recognize our role as -- bringing these resolutions Ford the national advisory committee is probably the largest. Advisory committee in the fire service bringing in all the major organizations. And you know there the publications and we've had some of them federal agencies nest grandfathered -- to the committee. So we -- semi annually in any member of our advisory committee can bring resolutions forward for the consideration of the NEC. In those resolutions become our marching orders for the year. You know we've we have support the fire act we have done a lot with we've support issues that deal with spectrum issues. Wild land you know and we've looked at issues and impact the idea that issues and in fact impact the -- -- -- so again. When we bring these resolutions Ford when we can get -- -- from the 45 organizations. Yeah that speaks highly of what the fire -- the fire service itself is trying to achieve. In terms of bringing everyone together in in -- and showing a willingness to work on these core issues. You know we recognize that there -- there -- that there are those issues that are gonna separate -- organization you know. That the idea that might have their own you know issues that might not get the buying from the other organizations and we recognize that as -- today but when there are these core issues you know. Where we know we can work together and bring about some change it helps everybody again that's the focus the NEC and -- -- -- The resolutions process I'll tell you won the one very impressive. -- of the many things that the congressional fire services to get them this year. Only thing that I think is incredibly powerful. Was the work that you and -- and rescue team did on hometown heroes. Which was really a miscommunication. Not really between fire service and administration. But between the administration -- its own. Staffers if you will because. The governments -- huge machine and administrations come and go but a lot of the staffers as I understand -- -- a lot of folks that Romney's. Agencies. -- -- -- -- -- -- experts in the field you know administration. And there was a disconnect between what. Really the congress and the president and the senators really all agreed on 100% for hometown heroes act and the implementation of and and through your hard work and show on hard work. You know and -- -- -- worked tirelessly on this. That's changed that's improved -- can you give us an update and if people don't know what the hometown heroes act is. That's the act provides the line of -- death benefits to firefighters that. Subsequent to an in and in advance and -- can get to 24 hours for attacks are related heart attack stroke related fire deaths. And wonderful -- and as a one time -- of which 269. That's closer to 300 -- -- -- continues to rise in the trial of formula works but. Almost 3000 dollars which people -- -- Sounds that a lot of money. If you took firefighters -- say 75000 dollars and it's just three years has beaten really. For the family which is nothing and so. How did you get that corrected me and and what's the status now because it was frozen it was like to. It's five year old built them and how many cases up to that to -- the congressional questions intervention so to speak had been heard. And how many of them resolved. Well you know if he even stepped back the legislation was signed as you said it was is approved unanimously in both houses and in the and the president did a signing ceremony. -- so we thought that the intent was there we -- everyone knew what the intent of the legislation was. Yeah and then all of a sudden the of the bureaucracy gets -- and in -- work. You know we did -- lot of support you know from the pure justice assistance now it's like to tip my hat to me opera -- who runs the -- program. You know his father as a firefighter -- his heart isn't Clinton and they you know as you said somebody over the Department of Justice -- -- legal counsel office got hold of this and then decided to you know to come up with his own interpretation. -- -- the program should be implemented and so that was the battle that we are fighting. You know for like the last year two years and yes I tip my tip my hat Sean Carroll who who did -- heavy lifting enough in our office tested Hal -- for the foundation. When the -- when that when the up program is starting to be implemented. You know -- -- -- only four claims approve and 48. This -- for. Rejected. That's not what we intended that's not what congress intended and that's not what the administration intended. And so again we we worked assiduously we worked with the Department of Justice we worked with our friends up on Capitol Hill. You know -- to return to bring the message home to some those people over the Justice Department -- -- mammoth -- -- look at how your -- -- program because. You know you're denying some good -- out there and -- in process you're really making life miserable for some survivors. You know -- firefighters who paid that ultimate sacrifice to protect our communities. Now we're seeing some further work we're seeing progress in the right direction and I wish I had the figures in front of -- I alluded to them and in my presentation earlier this morning. But we're seeing huge changed -- believe that now it worked about a hundred claims that have been approved. I think eighty had been rejected but I think thirty year under appeal right now. And so -- a lengthy process to there's -- -- -- yeah medical review its -- real. Godless bureaucrats because it's only job that -- was used to that on the labor team could do we don't understand we see is pretty cut yeah. And any any you know and I think what was happening at the Justice Department you had you had an attorney had attorneys there who had no knowledge of the fires -- as I remember sitting in on some meetings. In the and they really didn't understand that the stress the -- and it just responded. To showing up at the incidence. You know waking up and at 3 o'clock in the morning and all of a sudden going into -- hostile environment they didn't understand that and so that was part of this morning -- that was part of the educational process that took part. You know with CF SI with the fallen firefighters foundation with all the other or organizations. That got involved in this process. I think we're on the right road now and and I think you know in -- in in in its it's a sense of pride for our organization to be a part of institute to see that this changes taking place. You know a lot of times you look at you know the money you make in -- -- you think you know this is the reward. It's really not it's not you know your firefighter and you know that -- that that is -- -- can only -- -- so -- terms of the of the reward the experience. Having been a major part of that effort to return to turn around the program. And seeing now that the that the family members or her -- -- benefits. We've bet that speaks volumes about what we're trying to achieve what we're we're fire engineers trying to to achieve what's he emphasized turn -- all the other organizations -- -- so what's coming up this year for you what's the big time. Expert you know right now -- looking at the appropriations process for coming up on election here you know we've got three you know presidential candidates. We've got members of congress are up for reelection and and you know we inner. -- presidential election. You know congress pretty much comes to -- grinding all. You know they select their legislation and and a lot of it. This is partisan driven enough but let's let's take a bill before the congress and let's see how Obama is gonna vote let's see how McCain's inability Clinton's gonna vote. And -- -- it's a part of the processes it's the nature of the beast -- you know a lot of our focus is gonna be on in the getting this paper programs are funded. Getting some of those other pieces of legislation funded. And you know -- we've got our work cut out for us but. You know what has impressed me most in my work at -- at the site is seen you know firefighters all of us -- gaining. Process. Working with their local leaders is -- voice that politics is local Tip O'Neill that's politics 11. And I think the more that we can get enough -- to read your columns -- the more that we can get firefighters. To become weren't all these issues but I think the better off we'll be you know in closing we did this big -- on the -- you know we've that are big dinner last week. And we here at the chairman of the fire at the please caucus say. You please don't really have their acting. Pictures. The fire service is now speaking. That speaks volumes. What we what we have achieved its its not an attacker knows planned against law enforcement but it really speaks highly how far we've come you know 1998. The cops program is getting one point two billion dollars billion in you know now it's 120 million. Fire it was -- it 750. It's now funded approximately 569. You know the fact that we can continue to get that program funding at the level that we are I think speaks -- World. I -- to -- greatest stuff I think respect and more appreciate it we'll see on the -- -- next year and we always appreciate -- you with us. I'm Bobby -- this is bill -- were on the road and -- be careful out there.