Speaking at the International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., in March, President Bill Clinton pledged $73.5 million to equip first responders for response to terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. The money will be made available by the Department of Justice in the form of grants to states and municipalities for the procurement of personal protective gear and equipment to detect chemical or biological agents.

The President also indicated the following:

Under a $21 million Department of Justice grant, funds would be made available for training firefighters to respond to chemical or biological attacks.

The Department of Health and Human Services has been instructed to redirect an additional $11 million to Metropolitan Medical Response Systems (MMRS) this fiscal year (FY). This mid-year funding will enhance local emergency response systems, increase the previously planned FY 1999 funding level by almost 400 percent, and add 12 cities to the current list of 35 cities with MMRS.

He supports the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, pending in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would guarantee collective bargaining for firefighters and other public safety employees, and the efficacy of fire department-based emergency medical services systems.

Also present at the IAFF 17th Annual Legislative Conference were House of Representatives Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), author of the FIRE Bill, which would provide $5 billion in direct grants to fire departments.

Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) were honored by the IAFF for “their hard work in drafting and passing federal firefighter pay reform.”

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