As countless local fire departments are facing budget cuts that severely threaten public safety, more than 700 professional firefighters and paramedics from across the country next week will descend upon Washington, D.C. to emphasize the need for Congress to continue increasing the federal government’s role in funding staffing, training, and equipment upgrades, as Congress has in recent years at the urging of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).
Strapped to make ends meet, many local governments are cutting services essential for protecting neighborhoods. The IAFF‘s 2013 Legislative Conference, March 17-21, will serve as a rallying point for the leaders of one of the nation’s most powerful and bipartisan unions to stand up for the citizens they protect every day by urging Congress not to cut public safety resources to states and local communities crippled by the dragging economy.
During the last decade the IAFF has worked with cities and towns to get federal funds into the pipeline to keep firefighters protecting their neighborhoods with the equipment they need to do the job.
“The IAFF will continue to make sure lawmakers at all levels understand how important federal funding is to homeland security and the safety of our citizens,” said IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, who will open the Legislative Conference with a keynote address on the challenges facing public safety.
Last year, Congress extended and improved the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, which make funding available to professional fire departments, illustrating the IAFF‘s influential role in the discussion over public safety in communities nationwide.
Local and state leaders will attend the IAFF’s annual political conference at the Washington Hilton and will host a lineup of bipartisan speakers, including Senator Charles Schumer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Representative Greg Walden and Organizing for Action Director Jim Messina.
The IAFF’s political action committee, FIREPAC, is in the top one-half of one percent of federal PACs in the nation, and the support of gold and black clad IAFF members is sought by candidates at all levels as they run for office.