AFG and SAFER legislation introduced in U.S. Senate

In April, Senators John McCain (AZ), Jon Tester (MT), Susan Collins (ME), and Tom Carper (DE) introduced S. 829, legislation to reauthorize the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, according to Bill Webb, executive director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. Webb says it is imperative that firefighters reach out to their senators and ask them to support these programs, which are authorized only through the end of the current fiscal year and which, through the provisions of a “sunset” provision in the prevailing statute, will be extended to January 2, 2018, when they would be eliminated unless Congress authorizes new legislation. Similar legislation was expected to be introduced in the House of Representatives after press time.

The proposed Senate bill would eliminate the sunset provision and extend the authorization until Fiscal Year 2023.

FirstNet and AT&T to build network for first responders

AT&T has been selected to build the first nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to America’s first responders, the Department of Commerce and First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) recently announced. U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross noted: “FirstNet is a critical infrastructure project that will give our first responders the communications tools they need to keep America safe and secure.”

Under the 25-year agreement, FirstNet will provide 20 MHz of high-value telecommunications spectrum and success-based payments of $6.5 billion over the next five years to support the Network buildout, the press release explained. (FirstNet’s funding was raised from previous Federal Communications Commission spectrum auctions.) AT&T is projected to spend about $40 billion over the life of the contract to build, deploy, operate, and maintain the network, “with a focus on ensuring robust coverage for public safety.” Additionally, AT&T will connect FirstNet users to the company’s telecommunications network assets, valued at more than $180 billion.

The high-speed network is being built specifically for public safety users in all 50 states; five U.S. territories; and the District of Columbia, including those serving rural communities and tribal lands. FirstNet addresses a key recommendation of the 9/11 Commission regarding communications used by police, fire, and emergency medical personnel. The public safety community advocated for and endorsed passage of legislation for the wireless broadband network. Additional information on the network is at http://www.firstnet.gov/mediakit.

Mayday/self-rescue/RIT is theme of 2017 Safety Stand Down

“Mayday, Self-Rescue, and Rapid Intervention,” the theme of the 2017 Safety Stand Down to be held from June 18-24, will emphasize activities related to the critical skills of individual firefighters to recognize when they are in a Mayday situation and remove themselves from the situation (self-rescue) and then on the team skills needed to rescue a trapped firefighter (rapid intervention). The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Safety, Health and Survival Section and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), coordinators of the initiative, noted in a joint release: “Regardless of agency size or composition, all firefighters who actively engage in structural firefighting will benefit from participating in the Safety Stand Down event, where they can refresh or learn new skills and techniques based on today’s research into firefighter Mayday events.”

The IAFC and NVFC are urging departments of all sizes to suspend all nonemergency activities during that week to focus on training and education related to this year’s theme and that all shifts and personnel participate. The official Web site for the event (www.safetystanddown.org) offers topic information, training downloads, and videos to help departments prepare for the event.

Additional supporters of the Stand Down Week include the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Fire Service Training Association, the Florida Firefighters Safety & Health Collaborative, the National Fire Protection Association, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is co-sponsoring the event with its Safe + Sound Week activities during the week of June 12-18, 2017. Additional information is available at http://bit.ly/2p6j80n.

LINE-OF-DUTY DEATHS

March 15. Deputy Chief Clinton Alvin Beasley, 80, Sumrall (MS) Volunteer Fire Department: hit by a car while at a motor vehicle accident response scene.

March 15. Firefighter Loretta Ann Sykes, 53, Sumrall (MS) Volunteer Fire Department: hit by a car while at a motor vehicle accident response scene.

March 17. Firefighter Steven Paul Buser, 51, Ames (IA) Fire Department: cause of fatal injury still to be reported.

March 17. Firefighter Joseph Toscano, 54, Watertown (MA) Fire Department: cause of fatal injury still to be reported.

March 23. Lieutenant Christopher Lane Foster, 54, Demopolis (AL) Fire Department: apparent heart attack.

March 30. Firefighter Anthony Spano, 47, Chicopee (MA) Fire Department: cause of fatal injury suffered while exercising still to be reported.

April 1. Firefighter James H. Yiengst, 72, Keystone Hook and Ladder Company 1, Myerstown, PA: cause of fatal injury still to be reported.

Source: USFA Firefighters Memorial Database

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