Congressman Menendez Lauds NJ’s North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue, and Cites Need for Funds for Specialized Training for First Responders

Congressman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) recently read before the House of Representatives the following statement complimenting North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue (NHRFR). He also urged funding for specialized training for first responders.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor North Hudson Regional fire and Rescue and its outstanding professional firefighters and rescue personnel, who are the pride of the five northern New Jersey communities that they sere with such great distinction-Union City, Weehawken, North Bergen, West New York, and Guttenberg.

“In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, there is renewed national appreciation and respect for the heroic men and women who put their lives at risk in the line of duty every day in every American community. These are truly the heroes in our midst, each and every one an authentic profile in courage. I share the pride of my fellow Hudson County citizens in the outstanding performance of NHRFR personnel in support of t heir Fire Department of New York and New Jersey-based colleagues on 9/11, and each and every day preceding and following that horrific tragedy.

“Prior to my Congressional service, I had the privilege of being the mayor of Union City, New Jersey. As a mayor, I learned a lot about what it takes, in terms of money, management/leadership capability, and training time to develop and maintain a fire and rescue first-responder team that is prepared and equipped to handle every conceivable emergency situation in a community. I am grateful to have had that experience, because I gained a great deal of understanding and insight about what we, as a nation, must now do to ensure that our fire and rescue first responders have the tools and the training to meet the growing demands and dangers of their public safety mission.

“Since 9/11, the mission of our local fire and rescue first responders has expanded exponentially, and is now elevated to the level of a national defense imperative. With the ominous continuing the rate of more terrorist attacks on American soil, our local fire and rescue teams face a daunting array of new and highly dangerous emergency response conditions, ranging from “conventional” bomb attacks on buildings, aircraft, and public transportation systems, to WMD attacks involving ‘dirty’ nuclear bombs, lethal chemicals, and biological warfare materials.

“Regrettably, the President’s words about providing resources for first responders have not yet been matched with funding that our local fire and rescue teams desperately need for upgraded equipment and specialized training to meet the growing challenge of post-9/11 terrorist attack scenarios.

“Mr. Speaker, I have publicly urged Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to release critical funding for our nation’s first responders. The President’s words of praise for firefighters and rescue personnel at the World Trade Center disaster site included his promise to deliver major funding for first responders. This Presidential promise must be kept, because failure to do so imperils the safety of the American public and endangers the very lives of the heroic men and women whose job it is to run toward the danger and help to save their fellow human beings.

“Mr. Speaker, specialized training for our local fire and rescue first responders is a key area where there is a critical need for additional federal funding. In order to underscore the importance of good training, I would like to share with my colleagues an article about North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue that appearing n the December 2002 edition of Fire Engineering [Planning and Managing Technical Rope Rescues,” Anthony Avillo, 57-59]. I commend this article about NHRFR to my colleagues, because it will provide them with a ‘window’ through which to view all of the complexities involved in planning and managing technical rope rescues. Though the NHRFR team might regard this operation as ‘just another day at the office,’ the techniques employed in their dramatic rescue of a man who had fallen 100 feet off the Palisades cliffs should conjure up images in the minds of my colleagues about the application of these highly specialized technical skills in disaster site settings.

“I also want to extend my congratulations to NHRFR for its achievement as the winner of the New Jersey State League of Municipalities 2002 Innovation in governance Aware for its exemplary Quantitative Safety Project. NHRFR’s achievement has been further recognized by the National League of Cities, which has added NHRFR’s project information to the NLC national research database of ‘best practices’ models.

“Mr. Speaker, I ask consent to include the text of the December 2002 Fire Engineering feature article about NHRFR with my remarks in the Congressional Record.”

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