IAFC calls for additional federal support after major terrorist incident; says 75,000 additional firefighters needed
In the wake of the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is requesting that the federal government ensure that fire departments “be adequately equipped and trained to effectively meet their responsibilities to serve their communities during the most challenging times.”
The IAFC has asked for various “fire and emergency service needs” President John M. Buckman III describes as “an initial list of action items that … will allow the fire and emergency services the best possible chance of saving lives during catastrophic events.” The list includes the following:
( Immediate action by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health to complete certification of chem/bio masks purchased by the federal government and given to all fire departments in major cities and within a 25-mile radius of the cities.
( The appropriation of $500 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2002 for the Assistance to Firefighter Program and an increased reauthorization for $1 billion a year for the Fiscal Years 2003 through 2007.
( Establish a federal program to fund the hiring of 75,000 additional firefighters.
( Expand and upgrade the FEMA USAR program by (1) establishing a national collapse rescue program to supplement the current USAR program; (2)
moving the USAR program from FEMA to the USFA and making it a Response and Recovery Directorate headed by an individual from the fire service; and (3) developing a national Command Overhead Team response program.
( The USFA should fill the administrator position immediately (R. David Paulison has been nominated) and retain the current chief operating officer position.
( Increase the number of Metropolitan Medical Response System teams and enhance their capabilities to deal with major incidents.
( With respect to communications, there should be radio spectrum interoperability for public safety. The Department of Defense should present a progress report on 138-144 MHz sharing by Oct. 30, 2001. Congress should require the Federal Communications Commission to study the communications problems encountered in New York City and Arlington County, Virginia, during the Sept. 11 terrorist incidents and recommend resolutions by March 30, 2002.
( By statute, make FEMA the single point-of-contact for terrorism preparedness.
( Increase funds for counterterrorism programs to be directed specifically to the fire and emergency service. Return to the two-tiered approach funding of top population centers. Require an 80 percent pass-through for all federal funds passing through states for other than the largest population centers.
( Enhance hazardous materials response by passing a five-year, $10 million authorization for Operation Respond. Fund Operation Respond at $2 million for FY 2002.