[House Hearing, 108 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
H.R. 1118: STAFFING FOR ADEQUATE
FIRE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE (SAFER)
ACT OF 2003
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
JUNE 4, 2003
Serial No. 108-15
Printed for the use of the Committee on Science
Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/science
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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
HON. SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York, Chairman
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas RALPH M. HALL, Texas
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania BART GORDON, Tennessee
DANA ROHRABACHER, California JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
JOE BARTON, Texas EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California LYNN C. WOOLSEY, California
NICK SMITH, Michigan NICK LAMPSON, Texas
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland JOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan MARK UDALL, Colorado
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota DAVID WU, Oregon
GEORGE R. NETHERCUTT, JR., MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
Washington CHRIS BELL, Texas
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma BRAD MILLER, North Carolina
JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois LINCOLN DAVIS, Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri ZOE LOFGREN, California
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois BRAD SHERMAN, California
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
JOHN SULLIVAN, Oklahoma DENNIS MOORE, Kansas
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
PHIL GINGREY, Georgia JIM MATHESON, Utah
ROB BISHOP, Utah DENNIS A. CARDOZA, California
MICHAEL C. BURGESS, Texas VACANCY
JO BONNER, Alabama
TOM FEENEY, Florida
RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas
C O N T E N T S
June 4, 2003
Witness List..................................................... 2
Hearing Charter.................................................. 3
Statement by Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert, Chairman,
Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives............ 15
Written Statement............................................ 16
Statement by Representative Ralph M. Hall, Minority Ranking
Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives.... 17
Written Statement............................................ 17
Statement by Representative Nick Smith, Chairman, Subcommittee on
Research, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives.. 18
Written Statement............................................ 19
Prepared Statement by Representative Jerry F. Costello, Member,
Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives............ 20
Prepared Statement by Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson,
Ranking Minority Member, Subcommittee on Research, Committee on
Science, U.S. House of Representatives......................... 21
Prepared Statement by Representative Zoe Lofgren, Member,
Subcommittee on Research, Committee on Science, U.S. House of
Representative Curt Weldon from the State of Pennsylvania;
Member, Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives
Oral Statement............................................... 22
Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr., from the State of New Jersey
Oral Statement............................................... 25
Written Statement............................................ 27
Senator Christopher J. Dodd from the State of Connecticut
Oral Statement............................................... 28
Written Statement............................................ 30
James M. Shannon, President, National Fire Protection Association
Oral Statement............................................... 33
Written Statement............................................ 35
Financial Disclosure......................................... 38
Michael D. Quill, Chief, Auburn, New York Fire Department
Oral Statement............................................... 40
Written Statement............................................ 41
Financial Disclosure......................................... 44
Jeffrey C. Cash, Chief, Cherryville, North Carolina Fire
Oral Statement............................................... 45
Written Statement............................................ 46
Financial Disclosure......................................... 52
Michael D. McNeill, 9th District Vice President, International
Association of Firefighters
Oral Statement............................................... 52
Written Statement............................................ 54
Financial Disclosure......................................... 59
Appendix 1: Additional Material for the Record
Statement Concerning H.R. 1118, submitted on behalf of the ``Two-
Hatters Coalition''............................................ 78
H.R. 1118, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
Firefighters Act of 2003....................................... 83
H.R. 1118, STAFFING FOR ADEQUATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE (SAFER)
ACT OF 2003
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2003
House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room
2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Sherwood L.
Boehlert (Chairman of the Committee) presiding.
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H.R. 1118, Staffing for Adequate
Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER)
Act of 2003
wednesday, june 4, 2003
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
2318 rayburn house office building
On Wednesday, June 4, 2003, the House Science Committee will hold a
hearing to receive testimony on H.R. 1118, Staffing for Adequate Fire
and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act of 2003, introduced by Chairman
Boehlert on March 6, 2003.
The Honorable James Shannon is a former member of Congress and
President of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a
nonprofit organization with 75,000 members aimed at reducing the burden
of fire hazards by providing and advocating scientifically-based
consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.
Mr. Michael Quill is chief of the Auburn, New York Fire Department. The
Auburn Fire Department serves a population 29,000 and is staffed by
approximately 70 career firefighters.
Mr. Jeff Cash is chief of the Cherryville, North Carolina Fire
Department. The Cherryville F.D. serves a community of 5,800 and is
staffed by eight full-time and 30 volunteer firefighters.
Mr. Mike McNeill is 9th District Vice President of the International
Association of Firefighters (IAFF) in Denver, Colorado.
3. OVERARCHING QUESTIONS
The hearing will address the following overarching questions:
What are some of the personnel challenges facing
urban and rural, volunteer and career fire departments in terms
of preparedness and response capabilities?
How have issues such as changing demands on the fire
services, the threat of terrorism, and National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA) staffing standards affected the ability of
the fire services to respond to emergencies? How have these
issues, along with tight State and local government budgets,
affected the need to address staffing issues?
Why should the Federal Government become involved in
the staffing of local fire departments?
How can H.R. 1118 best address the personnel-related
findings and recommendations of the Congressionally mandated
report, A Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service?
4. BRIEF OVERVIEW
In 1974, Congress enacted the Federal Fire Prevention
and Control Act, which established the United States Fire
Administration (USFA) in response to the loss of life and
property to fire. Since that time, USFA has helped reduce
deaths and other fire-related losses through data collection,
public education, research, and training.
Today, almost 30 years since USFA was created, fire-
related injuries and losses are dramatically lower. However,
the U.S. still has one of the worst fire safety records in the
industrialized world, including a per capita death rate
significantly higher than most other developed countries.
As part of a larger effort to address these continued
safety concerns, the National Fire Protection Association
(NFPA) developed comprehensive standards to guide career and
volunteer fire departments on the minimum number of personnel
needed for safe and effective firefighting in various emergency
situations. The standards, known as NFPA 1710 and NFPA 1720,
were formally approved by NFPA in August 2001.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
has estimated that two-thirds of the Nation's 26,000 fire
departments do not meet the recommended minimum staffing called
for in the NFPA standards, and that 75,000 new firefighters
would be needed to bring those departments into compliance.
On March 6, 2003, Chairman Boehlert introduced H.R.
1118, Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER)
Act of 2003, which authorizes the USFA to award grants to
career, volunteer, and combination fire departments for the
purpose of hiring new firefighters.
On May 22nd, 2003, an amendment to the FY 2004 Senate
Defense Authorization bill containing language establishing a
modified version of the SAFER grant program was offered by
Senator Dodd and passed by the Senate. The Science Committee
will be a conferee to this section of the bill.
In the early 1970's, the President's National Commission on Fire
Prevention and Control issued America Burning, a report that outlined
the glaring deficiencies in the Nation's fire program. According to the
report, nearly 12,000 lives were lost, nearly 300,000 men, women and
children were injured and more than $3 billion in economic losses were
suffered due to fire annually. In response, Congress passed the
National Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 to create the United
States Fire Administration (USFA) and to establish a federal role in
In 2000, Congress established the Assistance to Firefighters grant
program within USFA to provide fire departments with direct financial
assistance toward meeting basic minimum equipment and resource needs
(P.L. 106-398). Now in its third year, the program has grown from a
$100 million appropriation in FY 2001 to $745 million in FY 2003. It is
authorized at $900 million through FY 2004. USFA received almost 20,000
applications seeking over $2 billion for this year's grant program. The
grants were reviewed and ranked by panels of firefighters in April, and
USFA will begin announcing recipients in mid-June.
Today, USFA, a directorate within the Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), is the national leader in fire safety and prevention,
supporting the efforts of local communities to reduce the number of
fires and fire deaths. Located in Emmitsburg, Maryland, USFA has
overall responsibility for fire prevention and control, including
training, public education, research, and data collection and analysis.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA and USFA officially became part of the Emergency
Preparedness and Response Directorate of the Department of Homeland
Fire in the United States
Since the creation of USFA, fire losses in the United States have
decreased significantly. Data on fire-related losses from 1989 to 1998
show the number of fires, injuries, and economic losses declining by
21, 27, and 28 percent from the previous decade, respectively. Yet,
despite these successes, the United States still has one of the worst
fire safety records in the industrialized world, with a per capital
death rate that is two-to-three times several European nations and at
least 20 percent higher than most developed countries. Approximately
4,000 people continue to die each year from fire, including an average
of 100 firefighters (446 died in 2001, 343 of whom were killed during
the World Trade Center rescue effort). Every 18 seconds, a fire
department responds to a call somewhere in the United States.
Improvements in incident reporting and data analyses of these fire
calls have helped to identify areas where gaps in safety exist. For
instance, analyses undertaken by USFA's National Fire Data Center show
that structure fires (commercial and residential buildings), while
accounting for just over 25 percent of all fires, are responsible for
the overwhelming majority of deaths, injuries, and economic losses.
Most dangerous of these fires are those in residential homes,
accounting for 70 percent of all fire deaths each year. In fact,
firefighters are nearly ten times more likely to be injured in a
structure fire than all other fires combined, and the evidence suggests
that inadequate staffing is one of the primary causes for the higher
injury rate. According to the data, 69 percent of jurisdictions with
crew sizes of four or fewer firefighters had injury rates of ten or
more per 100 firemen, but only 38 percent of those with crew sizes of
four or more firefighters had comparable injury rates.
Fire Services Staffing Standards
In 2001, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the
private, standard setting body for fire related issues, approved
voluntary standards to provide comprehensive and uniform guidelines for
the minimum number of personnel needed for safe and effective
firefighting in various situations, so that fire departments would be
fully capable of safely extinguishing the fires and minimizing the loss
of life and property. Specifically, NFPA 1710, the ``Standard for the
Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression, Emergency Medical
Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire
Departments,'' required each firefighter unit or ``company'' (i.e.,
engine company, ladder company, squad, etc.) to include at least four
firefighters for standard firefighting, and five to six personnel in
hazardous or high-risk areas. NFPA 1720, the ``Standard on Volunteer
Fire Service Deployment,'' required an initial assembly of at least
four volunteer personnel before fire suppression activities can begin
at a structural fire.
NFPA is not a governmental agency and it does not have the
authority to impose regulation on fire departments, but many state and
local jurisdictions have either incorporated or plan to incorporate
NFPA 1710 and 1720 into their fire codes. Further, because of legal
concerns, many fire departments are seeking to come into compliance
regardless of whether the standards have been officially adopted in
their jurisdictions. NFPA 1710 and 1720 are also expected to improve
compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's
(OSHA) ``2-in/2-out'' rule. This rule, established in 1998, requires
that each two-man attack team be assisted by a two man back up team
outside of all buildings for all fires that are determined to be
Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH).
Finally, the increased staffing under NFPA 1710 and 1720 is
expected to help to address the expanding responsibilities of the fire
services. In recent years, communities and their citizens have grown
accustomed to relying on fire departments to respond to a range of
emergency situations, including medical emergencies, hazardous
materials, natural disasters, bombs, and acts of terrorism. In addition
to the increased training and equipment needs, this expanded role also
requires an increase in staffing. Yet, according to the International
Association of Fire Chiefs, approximately two-thirds of the Nation's
26,000 fire departments do not currently have adequate staffing, and
that 75,000 new firefighters would need to be hired to bring all
departments into compliance.
FEMA-NFPA Needs Assessment
In the legislation that established the USFA Assistance to
Firefighters Grant Program (P.L. 106-398, Section 1701), Congress
required FEMA to conduct a study in conjunction with NFPA to:
(a) define the current role and activities associated with the
(b) determine the adequacy of current levels of funding; and
(c) provide a needs assessment to identify shortfalls.
The comprehensive undertaking surveyed fire department capabilities
in a wide range of subject areas, including: personnel and their
capabilities; fire prevention and code enforcement; facilities,
apparatus, and equipment; communications and communications equipment;
ability to handle unusually challenging incidents; and new and emerging
The NFPA analysis of fire service personnel capabilities provides a
detailed look at fire services demographics and challenges facing local
departments across various types of communities and emergency
situations. The survey estimates that there about 1.1 million
firefighters in the country (Table 1), about 75 percent of whom are
volunteers. Only 10 percent of fire departments are either all-career
or mostly-career, but these departments protect about two-thirds of the
The Needs Assessment also revealed a significant amount of
information on the number of personnel typically responding to various
emergency situations. For example, the survey found that 21 percent of
volunteer departments protecting communities with fewer than 2,500
people respond with an average of four or fewer volunteers to mid-day
house fires. According to the survey, this translates into at least
86,000 firefighters serving in departments where compliance with
minimum response standards is a problem. Similar concerns were found
with regard to career departments. An estimated 73,000 career
firefighters serve in departments (that protect communities of over
50,000 people) that have fewer than four career firefighters assigned
to an engine--the minimum number called for in the NFPA 1710 Standard.
6. H.R. 1118, STAFFING FOR ADEQUATE FIRE AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE (SAFER)
On March 6, 2003, Chairman Boehlert introduced H.R.1118, Staffing
for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act of 2003. The
purpose of the legislation is to help communities across America meet
new minimum staffing standards for the fire services so they have
adequate manpower to protect against fires, acts of terrorism, and
other hazards. A similar federal hiring program to increase the number
of police officers protecting America's communities exists within the
Department of Justice.
The legislation authorizes $7.6 billion over seven years for the
USFA to award grants to State and local governments to pay the salaries
and benefits for three years for each new firefighter. Under the
legislation, all fire departments, volunteer and career, would be
eligible to apply. In exchange, the grantee would have to retain the
new hires for at least one year following the termination of the grant
and they would have to put up a nonfederal funding match of 25 percent.
Several versions of SAFER were introduced during the 107th
Congress, including H.R. 3992 (Boehlert), and, on October 2, 2002, the
House Science Committee had a hearing on the legislation. This year,
Senator Dodd (D-CT) has introduced Senate companion legislation to H.R.
1118 (S. 544). H.R. 1118 has been endorsed by the International
Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), IAFF, and NFPA.
On May 22nd, 2003, an amendment to the FY 2004 Senate Defense
Authorization bill containing language establishing a modified version
of the SAFER grant program was offered by Senator Dodd and passed by
the Senate. The amendment differs from H.R. 1118 in several aspects.
Most significantly, the Dodd language does not explicitly designate
USFA as the granting agency and does require that grants go directly to
local departments (these changes were likely made for jurisdictional
reasons). Also, the amendment authorizes funds to carry out the SAFER
program for three years, not seven years as in H.R. 1118.
7. QUESTION FOR WITNESSES
In addition to providing comments and recommendations for
improvement to H.R. 1118, the witnesses were asked to address the
following questions in their testimony:
Questions for Mr. Shannon
How do the findings of the recent FEMA/NFPA study, A
Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service, relate to personnel
and their capabilities? In particular, how extensive are
personnel shortfalls (in career, volunteer, and combination
departments), and how are they endangering the safety of
firefighters and hindering the ability of first responders to
effectively protect the public from fires and other hazards?
With regard to personnel, how are fire department
demographics changing, and how do staffing challenges differ
across departments of varying sizes and capabilities? What
steps does NFPA recommend Federal, State, and local governments
take to address staffing issues?
How would implementation of the NFPA 1710 and 1720
staffing and response standards improve the ability of fire
departments to safely and effectively respond to emergencies?
What is the level of adoption and implementation since the
standards were finalized two years ago? What impediments exist
to broader adoption of the standards and what steps can be
taken to remove them?
Questions for all other witnesses
Why should the Federal Government become involved in
staffing and equipping local fire departments?
How have changes related to emergency response
service expectations, state and local budget allocations, and
National Fire Protection Association personnel standards
affected your department's ability to meet staffing demands?
How have the above issues generally affected other departments
in your area, and how are they working to meet their staffing
and training needs?
Section-By-Section of H.R. 1118
Sec. 1. Short Title.
``Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters
Act of 2003''
Sec. 2. Office of Grant Management.
Amends the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act of 1974 (15 USC
2201), re-designating current sections 33 and 34 as sections 35 and 36,
respectively, and inserting a new section 34.
Sec. 34. Grant Authority.
Subsection (a): Authority to Make Grants.
Authorizes the Administrator to make grants directly to career,
volunteer, and combination fire departments for the purpose of
increasing the number of firefighters to help communities meet industry
minimum standards to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-
related hazards, including acts of terrorism. Authorizes a grant period
of four years to hire new, additional firefighters, and requires
grantees to retain newly hired firefighters for at least one year
beyond the termination of the grant period. Authorizes Administrator to
give preferential consideration to applicants that propose non-federal
contributions in excess of the following annual minimums: 10 percent in
year one; 20 percent in year two; 50 percent in year three; and 70
percent in year four. Sunsets the authority for hiring grants 10 years
after enactment, and requires the Administrator to report to Congress
on the grant process.
Subsection (b): Applications.
Requires applications to include, at a minimum: (A) explanation of
the applicant's inability to address the need without federal
assistance; (B) explanation of how the applicant plans to meet the
matching requirements in subsection (a); (C) long-term plans for
retaining firefighters following the conclusion of federal support; and
(D) assurances that the applicant will recruit and hire members of
racial and ethnic minority groups, and women.
Subsection (c): Limitation on use of Funds.
Limits funding under the grant program to salaries and benefits for
hiring new, career firefighters, and requires that funding does not
supplant State or local funds. Requires that total funding over four
years for hiring a firefighter must not exceed $100,000, and adjusts
the cap annually for inflation beginning in FY 2005.
Subsection (d): Performance Evaluation.
Authorizes the Administrator to require grant recipients to submit
any information the Administrator considers necessary to evaluate the
Subsection (e): Revocation or Suspension of Funding.
Authorizes the Administrator to revoke funding if a grant recipient
is not in substantial compliance with the terms of an approved
Subsection (f): Access to Documents.
Authorizes the Administrator (as well as the Comptroller General)
to have access to all records pertaining to the grant.
Subsection (g): Definitions.
Defines `firefighter' as `an employee, including a firefighter,
paramedic, emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance
personnel, or hazardous materials worker, who--(1) is trained in fire
suppression, has the legal authority and responsibility to engage in
fire suppression, and is employed by a fire department of a
municipality, county, fire district, or State; and (2) is engaged in
the prevention, control, and extinguishment of fires or response to
emergency situations where life, property, or the environment is at
risk. (definition of `employee in fire protection activities' in the
Fair Labor Standards Act, 29 USC 203(y)).
Defines `Indian Tribe' as `a tribe, band, pueblo, nation, or other
organized group or community of Indians, including an Alaska Native
village that is recognized as eligible for the special programs and
services provided by the United States to Indians because of their
status as Indians'.
Subsection (h): Authorization of Appropriations.
Authorizes $1,000,000,000 for FY 2004;
$1,030,000,000 for FY 2005;
$1,061,000,000 for FY 2006;
$1,093,000,000 for FY 2007;
$1,126,000,000 for FY 2008;
$1,159,000,000 for FY 2009; and
$1,194,000,000 for FY 2010.
Text of Dodd amendment to FY 2004 Senate Defense Authorization bill
(S. 1050, SAFER begins at subsection (f))
SA 785. Mr. DODD submitted an amendment intended to be proposed by
him to the bill S. 1050, to authorize appropriations for fiscal year
2004 for military activities of the Department of Defense, for military
construction, and for defense activities of the Department of Energy,
to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the Armed
Forces, and for other purposes; which was ordered to lie on the table;
SEC. 852. FEDERAL SUPPORT FOR ENHANCEMENT OF STATE AND LOCAL ANTI-
TERRORISM RESPONSE CAPABILITIES.
(a) PROCUREMENTS OF ANTI-TERRORISM TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES BY
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS THROUGH FEDERAL CONTRACTS.----
(1) ESTABLISHMENT OF PROGRAM.--The President shall designate an
officer or employee of the United States----
(A) to establish, and the designated official shall establish, a
program under which States and units of local government may procure
through contracts entered into by the designated official anti-
terrorism technologies or anti-terrorism services for the purpose of
preventing, detecting, identifying, otherwise deterring, or recovering
from acts of terrorism; and
(B) to carry out the SAFER grant program provided for under
(2) DESIGNATED FEDERAL PROCUREMENT OFFICIAL FOR PROGRAM.--In this
section, the officer or employee designated by the President under
paragraph (1) shall be referred to as the ``designated federal
(3) AUTHORITIES.--Under the program, the designated federal
(A) may, but shall not be required to, award contracts using the
same authorities as are provided to the Administrator of General
Services under section 309(b)(3) of the Federal Property and
Administrative Services Act (41 U.S.C. 259(b)(3)); and
(B) may make SAFER grants in accordance with subsection (f).
(4) OFFERS NOT REQUIRED TO STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS.--A
contractor that sells anti-terrorism technology or anti-terrorism
services to the Federal Government may not be required to offer such
technology or services to a State or unit of local government under the
(b) RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE CONTRACTING OFFICIAL.--In carrying out
the program established under this section, the designated federal
procurement official shall----
(1) produce and maintain a catalog of anti-terrorism technologies
and anti-terrorism services suitable for procurement by States and
units of local government under this program; and
(2) establish procedures in accordance with subsection (c) to
address the procurement of anti-terrorism technologies and anti-
terrorism services by States and units of local government under
contracts awarded by the designated official.
(c) REQUIRED PROCEDURES.--The procedures required by subsection
(b)(2) shall implement the following requirements and authorities:
(1) SUBMISSIONS BY STATES.----
(A) REQUESTS AND PAYMENTS.--Except as provided in subparagraph (B),
each State desiring to participate in a procurement of anti-terrorism
technologies or anti-terrorism services through a contract entered into
by the designated federal procurement official under this section shall
submit to that official in such form and manner and at such times as
such official prescribes, the following:
(i) REQUEST.--A request consisting of an enumeration of the
technologies or services, respectively, that are desired by the State
and units of local government within the State.
(ii) PAYMENT.--Advance payment for each requested technology or
service in an amount determined by the designated official based on
estimated or actual costs of the technology or service and
administrative costs incurred by such official.
(B) OTHER CONTRACTS.--The designated federal procurement official
may award and designate contracts under which States and units of local
government may procure anti-terrorism technologies and anti-terrorism
services directly from the contractors. No indemnification may be
provided under Public Law 85-804 pursuant to an exercise of authority
under section 851 for procurements that are made directly between
contractors and States or units of local government.
(2) PERMITTED CATALOG TECHNOLOGIES AND SERVICES.--A State may
include in a request submitted under paragraph (1) only a technology or
service listed in the catalog produced under subsection (b)(1).
(3) COORDINATION OF LOCAL REQUESTS WITHIN STATE.--The Governor of a
State may establish such procedures as the Governor considers
appropriate for administering and coordinating requests for anti-
terrorism technologies or anti-terrorism services from units of local
government within the State.
(4) SHIPMENT AND TRANSPORTATION COSTS.--A State requesting anti-
terrorism technologies or anti-terrorism services shall be responsible
for arranging and paying for any shipment or transportation of the
technologies or services, respectively, to the State and localities
within the State.
(d) REIMBURSEMENT OF ACTUAL COSTS.--In the case of a procurement
made by or for a State or unit of local government under the procedures
established under this section, the designated federal procurement
official shall require the State or unit of local government to
reimburse the Department for the actual costs it has incurred for such
(e) TIME FOR IMPLEMENTATION.--The catalog and procedures required
by subsection (b) of this section shall be completed as soon as
practicable and no later than 210 days after the enactment of this Act.
(f) SAFER GRANT PROGRAM.----
(1) AUTHORITY.--The designated federal procurement official in
cooperation with the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
or his designee, is authorized to make grants to eligible entities for
the purpose of supporting increases in the number of permanent
positions for firefighters in fire services to ensure staffing at
levels and with skill mixes that are adequate emergency response to
incidents or threats of terrorism.
(2) USE OF FUNDS.--The proceeds of a SAFER grant to an eligible
entity may be used only for the purpose specified in paragraph (1).
(3) DURATION.--A SAFER grant to an eligible entity shall provide
funding for a period of 4 years. The proceeds of the grant shall be
disbursed to the eligible entity in 4 equal annual installments.
(4) NON-FEDERAL SHARE.----
(A) REQUIREMENT.--An eligible entity may receive a SAFER grant only
if the entity enters into an agreement with the designated federal
procurement official to contribute non-federal funds to achieve the
purpose of the grant in the following amounts:
(i) During the second year in which funds of a SAFER grant are
received, an amount equal to 25 percent of the amount of the SAFER
grant funds received that year.
(ii) During the third year in which funds of a SAFER grant are
received, an amount equal to 50 percent of the amount of the SAFER
grant funds received that year.
(iii) During the fourth year in which funds of a SAFER grant are
received, an amount equal to 75 percent of the amount of the SAFER
grant funds received that year.
(B) WAIVER.--The designated federal procurement official may waive
the requirement for a non-federal contribution described in
subparagraph (A) in the case of any eligible entity.
(C) ASSET FORFEITURE FUNDS.--An eligible entity may use funds
received from the disposal of property transferred to the eligible
entity pursuant to section 9703(h) of title 31, United States Code,
section 981(e) of title 18, United States Code, or section 616 of the
Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1616a) to provide the non-federal share
required under paragraph (1).
(D) BIA FUNDS.--Funds appropriated for the activities of any agency
of a tribal organization or for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to perform
firefighting functions on any Indian lands may be used to provide the
share required under subparagraph (A), and such funds shall be deemed
to be non-federal funds for such purpose.
(A) REQUIREMENT.--To receive a SAFER grant, an eligible entity
shall submit an application for the grant to the designated federal
(B) CONTENT.--Each application for a SAFER grant shall contain, for
each fire service covered by the application, the following
(i) A long-term strategy for increasing the force of firefighters
in the fire service to ensure readiness for appropriate and effective
emergency response to incidents or threats of terrorism.
(ii) A detailed plan for implementing the strategy that reflects
consultation with community groups, consultation with appropriate
private and public entities, and consideration of any master plan that
applies to the eligible entity.
(iii) An assessment of the ability of the eligible entity to
increase the force of firefighters in the fire service without federal
(iv) An assessment of the levels of community support for
increasing that force, including financial and in-kind contributions
and any other available community resources.
(v) Specific plans for obtaining necessary support and continued
funding for the firefighter positions proposed to be added to the fire
service with SAFER grant funds.
(vi) An assurance that the eligible entity will, to the extent
practicable, seek to recruit and employ (or accept the voluntary
services of) firefighters who are members of racial and ethnic minority
groups or women.
(vii) Any additional information that the designated federal
procurement official considers appropriate.
(C) SPECIAL RULE FOR SMALL COMMUNITIES.--The designated federal
procurement official may authorize an eligible entity responsible for a
population of less than 50,000 to submit an application without
information required under subparagraph (B), and may otherwise make
special provisions to facilitate the expedited submission, processing,
and approval of an application by such an entity.
(D) PREFERENTIAL CONSIDERATION.--The designated federal procurement
official may give preferential consideration, to the extent feasible,
to an application submitted by an eligible entity that agrees to
contribute a non-federal share higher than the share required under
(E) ASSISTANCE WITH APPLICATIONS.--The designated federal
procurement official is authorized to provide technical assistance to
an eligible entity for the purpose of assisting with the preparation of
an application for a SAFER grant.
(6) SPECIAL RULES ON USE OF FUNDS.----
(A) SUPPLEMENT NOT SUPPLANT.--The proceeds of a SAFER grant made to
an eligible entity shall be used to supplement and not supplant other
federal funds, State funds, or funds from a subdivision of a State, or,
in the case of a tribal organization, funds supplied by the Bureau of
Indian Affairs, that are available for salaries or benefits for
(B) LIMITATION RELATING TO COMPENSATION OF FIREFIGHTERS.----
(i) IN GENERAL.--The proceeds of a SAFER grant may not be used to
fund the pay and benefits of a full-time firefighter if the total
annual amount of the pay and benefits for that firefighter exceeds
$100,000. The designated federal procurement official may waive the
prohibition in the proceeding sentence in any particular case.
(ii) ADJUSTMENT FOR INFLATION.--Effective on October 1 of each
year, the total annual amount applicable under subparagraph (A) shall
be increased by the percentage (rounded to the nearest one-tenth of one
percent) by which the Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers
published by the Department of Labor for July of such year exceeds the
Consumer Price Index for all-urban consumers published by the
Department of Labor for July of the preceding year. The first
adjustment shall be made on October 1, 2004.
(7) PERFORMANCE EVALUATION.----
(A) REQUIREMENT FOR INFORMATION.--The designated federal
procurement official shall evaluate, each year, whether an entity
receiving SAFER grant funds in such year is substantially complying
with the terms and conditions of the grant. The entity shall submit to
the designated federal procurement official any information that the
designated federal procurement official requires for that year for the
purpose of the evaluation.
(B) REVOCATION OR SUSPENSION OF FUNDING.--If the designated federal
procurement official determines that a recipient of a SAFER grant is
not in substantial compliance with the terms and conditions of the
grant the designated federal procurement official may revoke or suspend
funding of the grant.
(8) ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS.----
(A) AUDITS BY DESIGNATED FEDERAL PROCUREMENT OFFICIAL.--The
designated federal procurement official shall have access for the
purpose of audit and examination to any pertinent books, documents,
papers, or records of an eligible entity that receives a SAFER grant.
(B) AUDITS BY THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL.--Subparagraph (A) shall also
apply with respect to audits and examinations conducted by the
Comptroller General of the United States or by an authorized
representative of the Comptroller General.
(9) TERMINATION OF SAFER GRANT AUTHORITY.----
(A) IN GENERAL.--The authority to award a SAFER grant shall
terminate at the end of September 30, 2010.
(B) REPORT TO CONGRESS.--Not later than two years after the date of
the enactment of this Act, the designated federal procurement official
shall submit to Congress a report on the SAFER grant program under this
section. The report shall include an assessment of the effectiveness of
the program for achieving its purpose, and may include any
recommendations that the designated federal procurement official has
for increasing the forces of firefighters in fire services.
(10) DEFINITIONS.--In this subsection:
(A) ELIGIBLE ENTITY.--The term ``eligible entity'' means----
(i) a State;
(ii) a subdivision of a State;
(iii) a tribal organization;
(iv) any other public entity that the designated federal
procurement official determines appropriate for eligibility under this
(v) a multijurisdictional or regional consortium of the entities
described in clauses (i) through (iv).
(B) FIREFIGHTER.--The term ``firefighter'' means an employee or
volunteer member of a fire service, including a firefighter, paramedic,
emergency medical technician, rescue worker, ambulance personnel, or
hazardous materials worker, who----
(i) is trained in fire suppression and has the legal authority and
responsibility to engage in fire suppression; or
(ii) is engaged in the prevention, control, and extinguishment of
fires or response to emergency situations where life, property, or the
environment is at risk.
(C) FIRE SERVICE.--The term ``fire service'' includes an
organization described in section 4(5) of the Federal Fire Prevention
and Control Act of 1974 that is under the jurisdiction of a tribal
(D) MASTER PLAN.--The term ``master plan'' has the meaning given
the term in section 10 of the Federal Fire Prevention and Control Act
(E) SAFER GRANT.--The term `SAFER grant' means a grant of financial
assistance under this subsection.
(F) TRIBAL ORGANIZATION.--The term ``tribal organization'' has the
meaning given the term in section 4 of the Indian Self-Determination
and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b).
(11) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.--There are authorized to be
appropriated for the purpose of carrying out this section such sums as
may be necessary from the Department of Homeland Security, up to----
(A) $1,000,000,000 for fiscal year 2004;
(B) $1,030,000,000 for fiscal year 2005;
(C) $1,061,000,000 for fiscal year 2006;
For text of H.R. 1118, see Appendix 1: Additional Material for the
Chairman Boehlert. Let me welcome everyone here this
morning to our hearing on a very serious subject that is too
rarely discussed: fire safety. I think most of us think of a
fire as a distant threat, perhaps even an archaic one, and yet
fire kills about 4,000 Americans each year, injures many more,
and causes hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses.
But those staggering losses are not inevitable.
Since the Federal Government began investing in improving
fire prevention and firefighting in 1974, the number of fire
deaths has dropped by 2/3. We need to do better than that. The
United States still has one of the highest fire loss rates in
the industrialized world. Today's hearing is really about what
we can do to prevent death and destruction in every community
throughout this country. Excuse me. And while firefighting is
and ought to remain a local responsibility, the Federal
Government has a role to play in saving lives and property, a
junior role to be sure, but a significant one.
This Committee has a long history of ensuring that the
Federal Government fulfills that role. Indeed, one of the first
bills I authored as a Member of this committee was the Hotel/
Motel Fire Safety Act many years ago, which has led to the
installation of life saving fire sprinklers and smoke detectors
in hotels and motels throughout the United States. As Chairman,
I want to ensure that the Science Committee continues to work
to protect Americans from the ravages of fire.
One way we can do that is by helping communities see that
their fire departments are adequately staffed. Today, most fire
departments can't meet the National Fire Protection Association
standards for staffing. That is wrong, and it is dangerous. My
bill, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response,
which we affectionately call the SAFER Act, is designed to
rectify that situation. And I look forward to hearing testimony
on it today.
The SAFER Act recognizes that our firefighters do more than
just extinguish fires, an important and often life-threatening
task in and of itself. As we all learned on September 11,
firefighters are our first responders to a range of
emergencies, saving lives through evacuations among other
tasks. Equally important is the fire prevention and education
work undertaken by many of our nation's fire departments and
the fire investigation work.
What it comes down to is this: without really thinking
about it, we expect our fire departments to perform a range of
services that are absolutely critical to health and well being,
indeed, the survival of our citizens. We need to ensure that
our fire departments have the staff and the equipment to carry
out their work. This year, we are farther ahead in the process
because a modified version of SAFER has been added to the Armed
And I am pleased that Senator Dodd, the lead author of this
language in the Senate, will be joining us shortly. We also
invited his partner in the effort, Senator Warner of Virginia,
but unfortunately, his schedule would not allow him to appear.
We will be hearing, first of all, from two Members of the
House, including Representative Curt Weldon of our Committee,
who has been a very powerful and effective voice for the fire
services since he came to Congress almost 20 years ago, and
Representative Pascrell, the lead Democrat sponsor of H.R.
1118. These two gentlemen are in the forefront of the effort,
and they deserve to be commended repeatedly.
Lastly, I would note that the Science Committee will be
seeking to have conferees on Senator Dodd's language in the
Armed Services Bill, and I look forward to working with all of
my colleagues to use this opportunity to put the SAFER program
And just an added thought before I recognize the
distinguished Ranking Member from Texas. Almost 20 years ago, a
freshman Congressman from Pennsylvania came into my office. And
I, at that time, was Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on this
committee having jurisdiction over the U.S. Fire
Administration, the National Fire Academy, and various programs
at the federal level. And Doug Walgren of Pennsylvania, who, at
that time, was the Chairman of the Subcommittee, and I sat
there and listened in awe to Curt Weldon tell the story of his
determined effort to build a caucus in the Congress that was
going to be responsive to the needs of the fire community from
coast to coast.
We were a little bit disbelieving, but we were in awe, and
we signed up immediately. And that was the beginning of what is
considered by one and all impartially today to be the most
effective caucus on Capitol Hill. And Mr. Weldon, I can't thank
you enough for what you have done over those years, a former
fire chief himself back home in Pennsylvania. But he is just
tenacious. And he is not the only one. It is infectious. Mr.
Pascrell is the same way. And we all are now. And we annually
have a banquet of the emergency responders, the fire services,
that draws thousands of people to Washington, DC, all with the
same purpose in mind.
You know, it has been popular since 9/11 to recognize the
importance of what the Fire Service does for all of us each and
every day. There are a lot of us who long before recognized the
value and importance of their work. And I can think of no one
who deserves higher praise than Curt Weldon for his leadership
in this effort.
With that, I would like to recognize another stalwart in
the battle right from the beginning, my distinguished colleague
from Texas, Mr. Hall.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Boehlert follows:]
Prepared Statement of Chairman Sherwood Boehlert
I want to welcome everyone here this morning to our hearing on a
very serious subject that is too rarely discussed--fire safety. I think
most of us think of fire as a distant threat, perhaps even an archaic
one, and yet fire kills about 4,000 Americans each year, injures many
more and causes hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses.
But those staggering losses are not inevitable. Since the Federal
Government began investing in improving fire prevention and
firefighting in 1974, the number of fire deaths has dropped by two-
thirds. But we need to do better than that. The United States still has
one of the highest fire loss rates in the industrialized world.
Today's hearing is really about what we can do to prevent death and
destruction in every community throughout this country. And while
firefighting is, and ought to remain, a local responsibility, the
Federal Government has a role to play in saving lives and property--a
junior role to be sure, but a significant one.
This committee has a long history of ensuring that the Federal
Government fulfills that role. Indeed, one of the first bills I
authored as a Member of this committee was the Hotel-Motel Fire Safety
Act, which has led to the installation of life-saving fire sprinklers
and smoke detectors in hotels and motels throughout the United States.
As Chairman, I want to ensure that the Science Committee continues its
work to protect Americans from the ravages of fire.
One way we can do that is by helping communities see that their
fire departments are adequately staffed. Today, most fire departments
can't meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards
for staffing. That's wrong, and it's potentially dangerous. My bill,
the ``Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act''
(H.R. 1118), is designed to rectify that situation, and I look forward
to hearing testimony on it today.
The SAFER Act recognizes that our firefighters do more than just
extinguish fires--an important and often life-threatening task, in and
of itself. As we all learned on September 11, firefighters are our
first responders to a range of emergencies, saving lives through
evacuations, among other tasks. Equally important is the fire
prevention and education work undertaken by many of our nation's fire
departments, and the fire investigation work.
What it comes down to is this: Without really thinking about it, we
expect our fire departments to perform a range of services that are
absolutely critical to the health and well-being, indeed the survival,
of our citizens. We need to ensure that our fire departments have the
staff and the equipment to carry out their work.
This year, we are further ahead in the process because a modified
version of SAFER has been added to the Armed Services bill. And I am
pleased Senator Dodd--the lead author of this language in the Senate--
is joining us. We also invited his partner in this effort, Senator
Warner of Virginia, but unfortunately his schedule would not allow him
We will also be hearing from two Members of the House, including
Representative Curt Weldon of our committee, who has been a very
powerful and effective voice for the fire services since he came to
Congress almost 20 years ago, and Representative Pascrell, the lead
Democrat sponsor of H.R. 1118. Lastly, I would note that the Science
Committee will be seeking to have conferees on Senator Dodd's language
in the Armed Services bill, and I look forward to working with all of
my colleagues to use this opportunity to put the SAFER program into
[Note: See Appendix 1: Additional Material for the Record,
for H.R. 1118.]
Mr. Hall. I ought to just yield to you the rest of my time,
Mr. Chairman. Thank you. Thank you for those kind words about
good friends and I have good things to say about both of these
members. And for that, and because you really covered it so
adequately, I will put my statement in the--on the record and
ask you to put it all there.
I just will add that I am very interested in hearing more
about the suggestions on how the bill might be modified to
provide some assistance to volunteer fire departments, to work
that in. These departments clearly need assistance in
recruiting and obtaining of personnel. I--again, I want to
welcome you two and welcome the other witnesses we have and
thank you for your opening statement and for that recollection
of a really super Member of this body and a guy that I respect
and admire. And I think all of us do.
I yield back my time.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Hall follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Ralph M. Hall
I am pleased to join the Chairman in welcoming our witnesses to
this hearing on legislation to improve the capabilities of the Nation's
In addition to welcoming Senator Dodd, I want to acknowledge his
efforts to advance this legislation. He successfully offered an
amendment to the Senate Defense Authorization, which added a version of
SAFER to that bill.
While the devotion to duty and sacrifice that characterize fire
service personnel is known and appreciated--especially in the aftermath
of 9/11--there is a tendency to take the fire services for granted.
Their needs often receive too low a priority in the allocation of
The SAFER bill, which we will consider today, is targeted on
addressing the staffing needs of fire departments throughout the
Nation. The goal is to increase the effectiveness of the fire services
in performing their critical public safety role, while also improving
The SAFER bill will provide the resources needed to help increase
staffing levels at fire departments, in line with approved safety and
effectiveness standards. It provides matching, four-year funding for
hiring new firefighters, with the requirement that the grant recipient
agree to retain the new hires for at least one year beyond the grant
The funding authorized by the bill will permit the hiring of
approximately 75,000 new firefighters.
I will be interested in the views and recommendations of our
witnesses on this legislation. In particular, will the bill make a
substantial contribution in allowing fire departments to satisfy
current OSHA and National Fire Protection Association standards for
And equally important, will municipalities be able to provide the
sustained funding necessary to maintain the increased staffing for
their fire departments after the federal subsidy ends?
I also am interested in hearing more about the suggestions of Mr.
Cash on how the bill may be modified to provide assistance to volunteer
fire departments. These departments clearly need assistance in
recruiting and retaining of personnel.
The broader question I would like to see addressed today is what
ought to be the relative priority among increased staffing levels,
improved training, and better equipment for the fire services. We need
to focus on addressing the key issues that will help them to achieve
the overall goals of improving the Nation's fire safety record and of
meeting their growing responsibilities as first responders.
Again, I want to welcome our witnesses today, and I look forward to
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. And your statement
will appear in the record in its entirety. The Chair now
recognizes the distinguished Chairman of the Subcommittee on
Research, Mr. Smith of Michigan.
Mr. Smith of Michigan. Mr. Chairman, thank you. I am sort
of your replacement, because our Subcommittee on Research has
oversight of the U.S. Fire Administration. And I have been
trying to run and catch up with leaders like Curt Weldon and
Bill Pascrell and you, Mr. Chairman, in terms of making sure
that the Federal Government does what it can to strengthen our
And in 2000, we made an important breakthrough, I think, in
our efforts to strengthen this support by establishing the
Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program within USFA. Now we
have finished the first two years. The program has been a great
success, providing over 450 million in direct aid for training
and equipment to fire departments all across America.
For 2003, I think with the help of leaders in Congress, we
appropriated and President Bush signed into law an
unprecedented $745 million for the grant program. And of
course, in addition with the Homeland Security, we have
provided for states and localities another $2 billion to
various other programs to help emergency response personnel to
increase their preparedness for terrorism.
Let me say that while these successes have significantly
improved the ability of fire departments to respond to
emergencies, I believe there is still more the Federal
Government can do, and I remain committed to continue to
strengthen this effort. On this bill before us today, I have
some concerns. One is that we make sure that the federal
spending does not replace what the local governments and
municipalities might do in terms of trying to make sure that
their support level for fire departments doesn't diminish as we
come up with additional federal support.
I would also like to comment on the need for the
firefighting community to work together in these efforts. You
know, our challenge and our goal is to increase support for
firefighters in this country. There exists an--what I consider
an unnecessary friction between some firefighter unions and
their volunteer counterparts. And it just seems so very
important, now that we have strong public support for first
responders and firefighters, that we don't allow--that we take
advantage of the situation to encourage more local, state, and
federal support. And we need to be careful that the friction
and separation between volunteers and full-time firefighters
does not grow, does not increase, does not jeopardize this door
opening opportunity that we have.
In my Home State of Michigan, the Professional Firefighters
Union, Mr. Chairman, has been pressuring its members that
volunteer on their free time to stop volunteering or face
losing their union card. It just seems that this policy does
nothing but exacerbate the very staffing shortfalls the union
professes to be working to eliminate. And it is somewhat
unfair. I think we need to look at that situation. And as we
are all aware, the events, of course, of 9/11 generated so much
appreciation for fire departments. I look forward to working
with Mr. Weldon, Mr. Pascrell, you, Mr. Chairman, to try to
make sure that we give strong national support for these first
responders that are so important in every community in America.
And with that, I yield back.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. Let me assure you
we have common objectives. And it is not the design of the
SAFER Act to replace but to supplement the resources that are
needed by localities across this country to get the people
power that they need to adequately protect their communities.
Without objection, the opening statements of all Members of
the Committee will be included in the record at this juncture.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Smith follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Nick Smith
As Chairman of the Research Subcommittee, which maintains oversight
of the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), I have worked to improve
federal support for the fire services since I came to Congress in 1992.
In 2000, we made an important breakthrough in our effort to strengthen
this support by establishing the Assistance to Firefighters Grant
Program within USFA. Now having completed its first two years, the
program has been a great success, providing over $450 million in direct
aid for training and equipment to fire departments all across America.
For FY 2003, Congress appropriated, and President Bush signed into law,
an unprecedented $745 million for the grant program. In addition, over
$2 billion was provided to states and localities from various other
programs to help emergency response personnel increase terrorism
While these successes have significantly improved the ability of
fire departments to respond to emergencies, I believe there is still
more the federal government can do, and I remain committed to
continuing to strengthen this effort. However, I have several concerns
with the legislation before us today.
First, I am very concerned about the cost of this bill. Federal
spending is wildly out of control, and deficits are once again on the
rise. We simply cannot continue to spend at two to three times the rate
of inflation. At over one billion dollars per year for seven years, I
believe we need to find comparable offsets somewhere in the government
before we authorize this amount of spending on a new program.
I am also concerned that the legislation will, in effect, reward
irresponsible budgeting at the local level. For example, consider a
situation where Community A overspends or places a low priority on
adequate fire department staffing in its budget, while Community B
operates a tight budget and places a high priority on ensuring its fire
department is adequately staffed. When it comes time for USFA to
evaluate grant proposals, Community A will receive the award because it
will be able to demonstrate a greater need to hire additional
firefighters. This is clearly unfair to Community B, and another
important reason why I believe appropriate staffing levels are best
determined at the local level by each individual community. A move
toward nationalizing fire department staffing would simply transfer the
tax burden for this hiring from the local to the national level, and
reduce the flexibility of individual communities to determine this
This is not to say that staffing shortfalls are not an important
problem--indeed they are. However, I believe they can be best addressed
in other ways. For instance, as the Administration has pointed out, the
strong support of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program has
relieved a great deal of budget pressure on local communities, allowing
more room in fire department budgets to address items such as staffing
issues. Continued strong support for the fire grant program in the
years ahead will decrease these budget pressures even further.
Lastly, I would like to comment on the need for the firefighting
community to work together in these efforts. Our challenge, and our
goal, is to increase support for firefighters in this country. There
exists an unnecessary friction between some firefighter unions and
their volunteer counterparts. We cannot allow that friction and
separation between volunteers and full-time firefighters to grow.
In my home state of Michigan, the Professional Firefighters Union
has been pressuring its members that volunteer on their free time to
stop volunteering or face losing their union card. This policy does
nothing but exacerbate the very staffing shortfalls the union professes
to be working to eliminate. It is also unfair to those that aspire to
protect the communities and families in which they live, runs contrary
to the spirit of volunteerism that President Bush has called for in
this post-9/11 environment, and creates an unnecessary wedge in an
otherwise united fire services.
I call upon the International Association of Firefighters to stop
their practice of discriminating against career firefighters that
choose to volunteer when they are off duty, and I also call upon them
to end their policy of treating volunteer fire departments as
As we are all aware, the events of 9/11 generated a renewed
appreciation and respect for firefighters and the work they do. We need
to use the opportunities created by this environment to increase local,
State, and federal support for firefighters. If we want to achieve this
we must eliminate any in-house disagreements that threaten to sidetrack
our common goals to adequately support the fire services. I look
forward to a productive discussion today on an issue of great
[The prepared statement of Mr. Costello follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Jerry F. Costello
Good morning. I want to thank the witnesses for appearing before
our committee to discuss the needs of fire services and ways of
addressing them. Specifically, we will be discussing H.R. 1118
introduced by Chairman Boehlert.
As a member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I have a
deep interest in this matter. The U.S. has one of the highest fire
death rates in the industrialized world. Each year, fire kills more
Americans than all natural disasters combined. Approximately 4,000
people die each year from fire in America, including an average of
about 100 firefighters in duty-related incidents. A significant amount
of evidence suggests that if we were to increase the number of
firefighter personnel, many of these preventable injuries could be
My congressional district is comprised of urban, suburban and rural
communities. It is quite challenging to meet staffing inadequacies for
fire departments of different sizes, capabilities, and demographics.
However, H.R. 1118 helps communities address these staffing concerns by
authorizing funding for the USFA to award grants to State and local
governments to pay the salary and benefits for a new firefighter for
three years. This legislation does require a minimum non-federal
funding match of 25 percent and grantees would be required to retain
the new hires for at least one year following the conclusion of the
grant period. This funding program is very similar to the COPS program
that has been a success for police departments nationwide. I am
interested to know if you believe similar success could be duplicated
for firefighter personnel.
I again want to thank the witnesses for appearing before this
committee and I look forward to their testimony.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Johnson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson
Thank you, Chairman, for calling this important hearing to receive
testimony on H.R. 1118, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency
Response (SAFER) Act of 2003.
Firefighting activities are traditionally the responsibility of
states and local communities. As such, funding for firefighters is
provided mostly by State and local governments. During the 1990s,
shortfalls in State and local budgets, coupled with increased
responsibilities (i.e., counter-terrorism) of local fire departments,
led many in the fire community to call for additional financial support
from the Federal Government.
The foremost need of the fire service is adequate personnel. The
National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), the consensus rules and
standards making body of, the fire service, recently issued the first
minimum staffing standard for safe fire ground operations. The new
minimum professional firefighter staffing standard for safe operations,
NFPA 1710, mandates at least four firefighters per apparatus.
Currently, most jurisdictions operate with only two or three
firefighters per apparatus. Across our nation, fire departments that
serve communities with populations of less than a million are regularly
understaffed. Responding to emergency incidents with less than four
firefighters prevents the first responding unit from complying with
OSHA's ``2-in/2-out'' standard for safe fireground operation, and
places the lives of those firefighters in jeopardy. Departments that
operate with less than minimum staffing levels cannot adequately
protect their citizens from the hazards faced on a daily basis--let
alone from acts of terrorism.
While fire department staffing is primarily a local government
responsibility, firefighter advocates and many Members of Congress
believe that the Federal Government should help shoulder some of the
responsibility for our nation's domestic defense. Just as the Federal
Government provides funding to local governments to hire police
officers and teachers, some argue that the Federal Government should
fund firefighter positions.
Studies and experience prove that adequate staffing is essential to
safe and effective emergency operations.
Currently, 2/3 of our nation's fire departments do
not meet the national consensus standard for staffing. Congress
would never allow our Army to engage in a war with 2/3 of its
divisions understaffed. Incredibly, this is exactly what we are
asking our local fire departments to do.
The recently issued FEMA study, ``A Needs Assessment
of the U.S. Fire Service,'' reveals that it is common for fire
departments that protect communities with a population of less
than a million to respond to emergencies with less than four
firefighters per apparatus.
As evidenced by the response to the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon, where fire departments from many jurisdictions responded to
the attacks, the Federal Government must recognize that disasters are
not local events, but national tragedies that warrant a federal
[The prepared statement of Ms. Lofgren follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Zoe Lofgren
Chairman Boelhert, Ranking Member Hall, thank you for bring this
hearing together so that we can learn about some of the many challenges
facing our nation's fire departments and emergency responders. In these
difficult days, this is both a very timely and important issue worthy
of our time and thoughtful consideration.
This hearing will shed important light on the need for the Federal
Government to assist local and State governments to ensure that the
fire safety and emergency response needs of our communities are met. I
look forward to hearing testimony about the need for more aggressive
recruitment and training of additional firefighters and emergency
responders. In addition to training and keeping more firefighters, I
believe the Federal Government should be active in ensuring that these
brave individuals have access to the most modern fire and emergency
equipment they need to ensure not only the safety of their communities
but their own safety as well. If they need new firefighters vehicles,
personal safety systems, protective clothing or most importantly, more
fellow firefighters and emergency responders, I believe that is most
appropriate for the Federal Government to assist in these efforts. Mr.
Chairman, Mr. Hall, thank you for giving this opportunity to speak and
Chairman Boehlert. And now it is my privilege to welcome
two of our colleagues who are experts in the subject matter.
And we always like to hear from experts. This is a Committee
where we are used to hearing from Nobel laureates and Ph.D.s
and everything. Well, if we are going to give a doctorate or a
Nobel Prize for performance, our first witness, Curt Weldon,
would be the number one recipient.
With that, let me recognize our colleague from
Pennsylvania, also a Member of this committee, Mr. Weldon.
STATEMENT OF HON. CURT WELDON, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE STATE
Mr. Weldon. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. Mr. Hall,
thank you. You are both good friends, as is Mr. Smith and all
of the Members of this committee, which I have had the pleasure
of being a part of for all of the time I have been in Congress.
And I should quit here, because your comments were very
embarrassing to me, but I appreciate them.
Mr. Boehlert, you were there at the beginning when we first
started this idea, as you outlined, with Doug Walgren. You were
the earliest signer on, and you became a key part of the effort
18 years ago to recognize America's heroes. It didn't take a 9/
11 for you to understand the importance of speaking up for the
Fire Service. It didn't take another disaster. You understood.
And for all of your constituents back in New York, they need to
understand that you have been an effective leader now on this
committee, both as a Ranking Member of the Subcommittee and the
Full Committee Chairman, in moving the agenda forward. If it
were not for you several years ago, we would not have been able
to broker the compromise to Mr. Pascrell's bill, who I have the
highest respect for. As a senior conferee on the defense bill,
you allowed us to have the jurisdictional flexibility to put
that bill on and to create the program that is now one of the
most popular programs the Federal Government has. So my hat is
off to you for your leadership.
And Mr. Hall, they couldn't have a better leader on the
other side of the aisle than Ralph Hall. He is a tireless
advocate for what is right for ordinary people. He is a
champion. He speaks up for what he believes in, and I know your
Texas firefighters love you, Ralph. In fact, I am supposed to
be the keynote speaker in Galveston this weekend at the Texas
Firefighters Association. All I can do is sing your praises for
the great work that you have done.
Nick Smith has been a great newer Member of our effort for
the past eight years. And he better not leave here. He told me
he is thinking about that now, but we are going to--we would
miss him dramatically, because he has been a true champion of
the Fire Service in his role as Chairman of the appropriate
Mr. Chairman, as you mentioned, when we started the fire
caucus, my goal was to elevate the awareness of who the real
heroes in America are. And in that capacity over the past 18
years, I have been on almost every disaster we have had, from
the wildland fires in California, Oregon, and Montana,
Colorado, Hurricanes Andrew and Hugo, North Ridge Earthquake,
the Merit Building bombing, the Midwestern floods, and the
World Trade Center in '93 and again in 2001. And the one common
thing I found in every one of those instances was the fact that
the heroes were the men and women of the Fire Service. In many
of those cases, they were paid professional firefighters from
our big cities, but also, in many of those cases, they were
professional volunteer firefighters from our small towns.
As you know, we have about 1.2 million men and women who
serve in 32,000 departments in every State of the Union, and
they do so day in and day out, providing so much support, not
just for fires. They respond to HAZMAT incidents. They are the
people who keep our community strong. The IAFF [International
Association of Fire Fighters] is the largest fund-raiser each
year for one of our largest charities in America. The
volunteers organize our youth programs. They are the Boy Scout
leaders. They are the people who run the parades and the
celebrations in our towns.
If there is one group of people in America that best
represents the foundation of what this country is built upon,
it is the Fire Service. And the fact is that they need help,
because the continual problem in every municipality in America
is staffing. In our big cities, the first time the budgets are
cut, where do they cut? They cut public safety. And they cut
back--we have seen it in this city. I can remember times where
we had one ladder truck servicing the entire City of
Washington, DC where we couldn't have enough money in the city
budget to buy boots so the firefighters could have adequate
turnout gear. The volunteers have to raise the money to buy a
$400,000 pumper, and at the same time, they have to work a
full-time job, and then they also have to take care of their
families and respond for training and emergency response
purposes. It is a great effort in America that the Fire
Service, for a time older than America has been a country, has
been there to keep our nation strong and safe.
Your bill, and the bill introduced by Senator Dodd, goes a
long way to address the staffing concerns. I am an original
cosponsor of your bill, because you are right on the mark. We
need to do more to help these people. And I am here to say that
I fully support the effort. And I will be using my voice and my
effort on the Armed Services Committee, as the Vice-Chairman of
the House Committee, and as a senior conferee to work to enact
the kind of changes that we can come to terms with based on
your bill that I think reflect the needs of the Fire Service in
this country. We did that several years ago, and there is no
reason why we can't do it again today.
For those who say there is no role for the Federal
Government, I would say well then how can we fund $4 billion a
year for local police protection? $4 billion a year. Everything
from the cost of hiring additional police officers to half of
the cost for bulletproof vests the police officers wear in our
towns. Is the life of a police officer or a soldier that much
more important than a firefighter or a paramedic? I say, and I
know you do, too, the answer is no.
Mr. Chairman, the only thing I would ask you is--to do is
to continue to have your staff work with my staff and Bill
Pascrell's staff on a compromise that I would hope to offer as
a senior conferee on the Defense Committee so that we can move
And I would just make five quick points that I would like
to see in a compromise. And with your leadership, I am sure we
can accomplish it. Your staff is aware of these. The first is
that I would shift the grants currently in the Dodd bill that
would go to the states in line to what you want. These grants
should go to local fire departments. We don't need state
bureaucracies siphoning off administrative costs, which they
always do. The money should go directly to the fire
departments. The model that we have under the grant program is
working overwhelmingly well. Everyone has said that. And so I
would say that any compromise should include the kind of
direction that you laid out in your bill.
The second, we must put in a provision that bars
municipalities and departments from funding firefighter
activities lower than the average of the previous three years.
That guarantees that any federal money coming in will not, in
fact, be used to offset money that is being taken away locally.
That guarantees that cities must keep their funding for the
Fire Service at the same level if they expect to get funds
through this program.
The third is a nondiscrimination clause. It says that this
program can not allow any discrimination to occur within the
fire departments of America. The fourth authorizes the funds
through 2010. Senator Dodd's amendment only goes for three
years. The amendment that I would like to see us agree to would
take this through 2010 and also would have a slightly higher
dollar amount. And finally, we have a competitive peer review
process where the Fire Service itself is involved in evaluating
who, in fact, wins.
And one of the most important additions, Mr. Chairman, that
I think we need is a provision that allows, at a minimum, $100
million a year for a competitive grant program for the
recruitment and retention of volunteers. Now some would say,
``How do you do that?'' Well, you don't have to look any
further than this document. This document was prepared by the
U.S. Fire Administration in cooperation with the National
Volunteer Fire Council and FEMA. It has pages and pages of
ideas of how to assist our volunteer fire departments to
recruit and retain volunteers. That is a staffing issue that we
can't ignore. So while we want to support a grant program that
provides relief for our big cities, we can not, and we must not
ignore the staffing needs of the volunteers, because they have
an enhanced challenge. They have firefighters who have to work
full-time jobs. And so I think we have to have a special pot of
money that is available for volunteer organizations to come up
with creative retention and recruitment programs that can help
them with the vital staffing needs they have.
So Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you. You have been a
dynamic leader in this Congress both as a Chairman of the
Science Committee, but also as an advocate for the Fire
Service. And I want to thank my good friend, Ralph Hall, and
also Nick Smith, because together, you make a dynamic team.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. Next time, would
you bring a little more enthusiasm to the--thank you very much,
And another stalwart in the battle right from the
beginning, since the first day he arrived in this town, Bill
Pascrell from New Jersey. We have a decided northeast
appreciation for the fire services, and we are now joined by
Senator Dodd, who will be the third witness, Senator.
Bill, I want to thank you so much for what you have done in
support of the fire services and emergency responders. You were
there every step of the way. You have had the experience on the
firing line from the municipal government standpoint. And that
has been an invaluable addition to our dialogue. So with that,
I welcome you to offer your testimony. Your complete statement
will appear in the record in its entirety. And we ask you to
proceed as you wish.
STATEMENT OF HON. BILL PASCRELL, JR., A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. Pascrell. Thank you very much.
You know, Boehlert and Smith and Hall and Weldon and Dodd
and Dewine did not need 9/11. We worked very hard beginning in
1999 together with the fire services. They said it couldn't be
done. In fact, you mentioned it before, Mr. Chairman. And we
struggled with a few cosponsors then we got up to 285. And we
passed this legislation thanks to the folks that have been here
for so many years fighting and laying the foundation for, what
I think, was a great breakthrough, because the dollars went
directly to the departments and not to any state bureaucracy. I
think this is one of the reasons we have been successful. And
FEMA has done a great job. And I think the firefighters
themselves who volunteered to review the applications, the
20,000 applications, I think the program is successful. And if
it is not broken, don't fix it. So the process, I think, needs
to be looked at.
I want to associate myself, also, with the gentleman from
Pennsylvania's remark about the suggestions concerning our
legislation. And I would support each of those.
This is absolutely critical for the Congress to address the
staffing needs of our nation's fire departments. Here are some
facts. Two-thirds of all of the fire departments, career and
voluntary, operate with inadequate staffing. That is
unacceptable. These are the basic services that fire
departments have to respond to every day. How can any of us, as
elected officials, allow this to continue?
In communities of at least 50,000 people, 38 percent of
firefighters are regularly part of response that is not
sufficient to safely initiate an interior attack on a structure
fire because of the lack of staffing. That is a fact. Twenty-
one percent of rural departments are often unable to deliver
four firefighters needed to safely initiate an interior attack.
In Buffalo, Washington, DC, New York, and Worcester,
Massachusetts, just to name but a few, firefighters have been
killed because of the lack of staffing. In each of these cases,
if there had been a team in place that accounted for the
firefighters who were putting out fires inside of buildings,
they would be alive today.
The New Jersey Division of Fire Safety Report issued this
past March, regarding a fire in the City of Passaic, which is
part of my District--this report right here that I have in my
right hand, it is a devastating report about a firefighter who
lost his life in that fire because of insufficient staffing. It
seemed to have fostered a culture of individualism because of
the lack of that staffing, the report says, in a fire
department over a long period of time. And a lack of
supervision due to short staffing made it difficult to address
the situation. The problem that the Passaic Fire Department
related to a lack of staffing and culminated in the death of my
friend, Firefighter Alberto Tirado. He went to the third floor
of a structure by himself in an effort to do his duty, and he
died because of it. And the family died and is trying to
This is happening in my District. It is happening in your
District. It is happening throughout the Nation. And things are
getting worse instead of better. Departments all across the
country are laying off firefighters, today's paper, the New
York papers in New York City. The current economic malaise that
we find ourselves in has many local jurisdictions facing tough
decisions and judgment calls. The challenges of a changed world
have irrevocably altered the role of our firefighters. Along
with all of the other profound responsibilities of which the
profession has been charged, firefighters are now the front
line defenders against terrorism within our borders.
We are serious, truly serious about our national security,
about the safety of our people. Then the Federal Government has
an obligation to assist the local departments. We have
established that precedent in 2000. In 1999, when I introduced
the Firefighter Investment Response Act to provide federal
grants directly to local fire departments, we gathered together
because the need was there. It was enunciated. It was
pronounced across the political spectrum: from the left, from
the right, from the center. People flocked to support this
legislation, because it was necessary in our hometowns
The original draft of the FIRE Act tried to get more
firefighters into uniform to help fire departments meet their
staffing shortages. So I am excited that the SAFER Act will
create a 4-year program, and as the gentleman from Pennsylvania
has suggested, perhaps extending to 10 years, that would pay
the majority of costs associating--associated with hiring new
My friends, adequate staffing is crucial in an effective--
to be effective in an emergency situation. I know no one will
attempt to refute this. The firefighters, whose bravery and
valor protect our nation, deserve all that we can give them.
And it is my hope that this Congress truly begins to realize
our responsibilities this year.
And I agree with Mr. Smith on his point that this should
not be replacement money but supplemental money. We don't want
localities laying off people in order to get federal money to
put them back in. In fact, that is absolutely forbidden in the
COPS Act. And we have all been supportive of that legislation,
and it has been effective. The relationship of the police
officers that have come on local communities through that FIRE
Act since '94, have had a direct proportionate relation to the
drop of crime. And I commend the Congress, and I commend the
past President and the present President for supporting it. We
support that particular act. We want everybody to support this
act. Firefighters are on the front lines. They are our first
responders, and I am proud to be cosponsor of this legislation.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Pascrell follows:]
Prepared Statement of Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the House Committee on Science, I
appreciate the opportunity to testify before you today on behalf of
H.R. 1118, the SAFER Act--legislation that can undoubtedly help us meet
the urgent needs of fire services throughout our nation.
I would just like to take a moment to commend Senator Dodd and
Chairman Boehlert for the exemplary leadership they have displayed on
behalf of the fire community over the years, as well as for their
tireless efforts in navigating the SAFER Act through the legislative
maze that is Capitol Hill.
Indeed, it is absolutely critical for Congress to address the
staffing needs of our nation's fire departments. Just look at the
Currently two-thirds of all fire departments throughout America
operate with inadequate staffing. This statistic alone is
unconscionable. How can any of us, as elected officials, allow this to
continue? The consequences of insufficient personnel levels, of course,
often lead to tragic, heartbreaking results.
In communities of at least 50,000 people, 38 percent of
firefighters are regularly part of a response that is not sufficient to
safely initiate an interior attack on a structure fire because of a
lack of staffing.
Twenty-one percent of rural departments are often unable to deliver
the four firefighters needed to safely initiate an interior attack.
In Buffalo, Washington, DC, New York and Worcester, Massachusetts--
just to name but a few--firefighters have been killed because of a lack
of staffing. In each of these cases, if there had been a team in place
that accounted for the firefighters who were putting out fires inside
of buildings, they would be alive today.
A New Jersey Division of Fire Safety report issued this past March
regarding the Passaic Fire Department in my district stated that:
``insufficient staffing seemed to have fostered a culture of
individualism in the fire department over a long period of
time, and a lack of supervision due to short staffing made it
difficult to address this situation.''
My friend, Chief Lou Imparato is doing the best he can with the
funding he has, but the problems the Passaic Fire Department
experiences related to a lack of staffing culminated in the death of
firefighter Alberto Tirado, who went to a third floor of a structure by
himself in an effort to do his duty, and died because of it. This is
happening in my district, it's happening in your district, it's
happening throughout the Nation.
And things are getting worse. The current economic malaise that we
find ourselves in has many local jurisdictions facing tough decisions.
Departments all across the country are laying off firefighters--just at
a time when we need them most.
The challenges of a changed world have irrevocably altered the role
of our firefighters. Along with all the other profound responsibilities
of which their profession has been charged, firefighters are now the
front-line defenders against terrorism within our borders.
And if we are serious--truly serious--about our national security,
and about the safety of our people, then the Federal Government has an
obligation to assist local fire departments in every way we can.
Like many Members of this committee, I have long fought for
additional funding for America's fire departments. In 1999, I
introduced the Firefighter Investment and Response Act, to provide
federal grants directly to local fire departments to help address a
variety of equipment, training and other firefighter-related needs. It
has been my greatest honor to see this bill signed into law.
The original draft of the FIRE Act tried to get more firefighters
into uniform--to help fire departments meet their staffing shortages.
Unfortunately, it has been difficult to implement the personnel
category because the money has to be spent in one year, prohibiting
municipalities from long-term personnel additions.
So I am excited that we are all here to return to address this
omission. The SAFER Act would create a four year program where fire
departments would apply for federal grants that would pay the majority
of the costs associated with hiring new firefighters, not to exceed
$100,000 over four years for each firefighter hired.
Adequate staffing is essential to safe and effective emergency
operations--I know of no one who would attempt to refute this.
The firefighters whose bravery and valor protect our nation deserve
all that we can give them, and it is my hope that this Congress truly
begins to realize our responsibilities this year.
Again, I would like to thank the Chairman and Members of the
Committee for this hearing, and I wish to thank all of our nation's
firefighters for everything they do.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much for that very fine
testimony. And I am pleased that we are joined by our
distinguished colleague from Connecticut, Senator Dodd. And
Senator, I want to commend you for the leadership you have
provided in moving this process forward by your rather
brilliant strategic move to insert the SAFER legislation
language into the Defense Authorization Bill. We will be
conferees and part of that. And Congressman Weldon will, too.
And we are going to be doing our best to embellish it even
Senator Dodd. And I thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Boehlert. And we welcome you.
STATEMENT OF HON. CHRISTOPHER J. DODD, A UNITED STATES SENATOR
FROM THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Senator Dodd. Well, thank you very much. This is sort of a
homecoming for me. Almost 30 years ago, when I was elected as a
freshman Member of the House, this was the first Committee I
served on. And back in the days, Tiger Teig was--Texas was
Chairing the Committee, and Don Fuqua and others. I look around
the room and see pictures here and portraits on the wall of
former Members, so it is a pleasure to come back. Very
different looking Committee room than it was almost 30 years
ago with the arrival of technology.
And I will just share some--a few thoughts with you, ask
unanimous consent that these prepared remarks be included in
the record. I see my good friend, Congressman Udall, here and I
am reminded of Mo Udall's famous line after listening to
several colleagues speak on a specific matter. He said,
``Everything has been said, but not everyone has said it.'' And
so I am going to take a few minutes here and share a few
thoughts with you. Let me commend, first, Curt Weldon and Bill
Pascrell for the tremendous job they have done and Members up
here as well. We need to right away in the Senate thank John
Warner and Carl Lebbon as well as the Chairman and the Ranking
Member of the Armed Services Committee at the Senate. Without
their support as cosponsors of the amendment a week or so ago
on the floor of the Senate, we would not have been able to
include this language as part of the Defense Authorization
Bill. And so I want to thank them.
This is a bit of an awkward way to proceed. And we--it was
pointed out on the FIRE Act a few years ago, they were also the
means by which we were able to get that language included and a
potential conference report with the House. It is conceivable
it would have happened through a normal course of events, but
we felt that this was the time to move. We are not sure, with
other matters that may come up in the Senate the coming week,
so the other matters could get crowded out of the schedule and
this kind of a bill might not have had a chance to be heard. So
I appreciate the Chairman's comments about it. And I would be
remiss by not thanking all of those who are--who have been
responsible for achieving the success.
We are in this effort, obviously, together. And we think we
can provide America's fire services with the resources it
needs. Bill Pascrell has laid out the case pretty well as Curt
Weldon has. Here, Mr. Chairman, there is a growing problem. I
appreciate Curt Weldon's comments, particularly with the
volunteer services, or these combination departments,
particularly in rural areas of the country, particularly part
of our parts of the country in the northeast where the old--the
rural communities of 25 years ago becoming suburban communities
and the idea that people who lived in those communities, worked
in those communities and then could be volunteers has
diminished tremendously. Today, a lot of the people who live in
these communities commute to the larger cities and work every
day so that the population, the potential population to serve
as volunteers just has declined tremendously in the last few
years. And it is harder and harder for these departments to
succeed without, of course, tremendous costs to these
communities. And as Bill points out as well, even of course, of
paid departments we're seeing the problems increase with a
decline in the service.
And so we are doing everything we can here to try and
provide a sense of cooperation with local and state governments
to see to it that the importance of the work done by our fire
services, emergency medical services will get the support that
As you know, Mr. Chairman, as I said, Senator Warner and I
introduced the Senate version of this bill in the fall of 2001,
just a few weeks after September 11. Again, I appreciate Bill
Pascrell pointing out that it was back in 1999 we introduced
the FIRE Act, before the 9/11 disaster. Even before then, of
course, many of us in Congress have long recognized that
America's firefighters make extraordinary contributions to
their communities every single day. And for that reason, the
FIRE Act was signed into law in the fall of 2000, a year before
the events of 9/11.
After September 11, of course, we know that America's--
needs its firefighters to be better prepared to respond to the
deliberate acts of terror and destruction. The Fire Service
needs to be better prepared, obviously, to deal with acts of
bioterrorists. It needs to be prepared to help people, save
people who have been attacked with toxic chemical weapons. Just
the responsibilities have just so dramatically changed from
what most of us grew up with knowing about your fire department
and what they--the job they did. And today, all of a sudden,
these men and women are being asked to perform services and
handle materials and situations, just dramatically different
than historically what we thought about as traditional fire
So the job has become a highly sophisticated one where you
not only have to be a good volunteer, you have got to be a well
educated one, a well educated, paid member of the department to
really understand the challenges that you are going to face.
And despite the increasingly important role, of course, that
these men and women are playing as part of our national
homeland defense system, communities, as we all know, over the
years, have not been able to maintain the level of staffing
necessary to ensure the safety of the public or our
Since 1970, the number of firefighters as a percentage of
the U.S. workforce has steadily declined, and the budget crisis
that our state and local governments are now enduring have only
made the matters that much worse. Across the country today,
firefighter staffing is being cut. Fire stations are being
closed because of the state and local budget pressures.
According to the Needs Assessment study recently released
by the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire
Protection Association, under-staffing contributes to enormous
problems. For example, the USFA and the NFPA have found that
only 11 percent of our nation's fire departments have the
personnel they need to respond to a building collapse involving
50 or more occupants. The consequences of under-staffing are
often tragic, according to testimony by Harold Schaitberger,
the general President of the International Association of Fire
Fighters, presented before the Senate Science and Technology
and Space Subcommittees on October 11 of 2001. Under-staffing
is caused or contributed to recent firefighter deaths in
Memphis, Tennessee, Worcester, Massachusetts, Iowa, Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania, Chesapeake, Virginia, Stockton, California,
Lexington, Kentucky, Buffalo, New York, Philadelphia, and
Washington, DC. In each case, firefighters went into dangerous
situations without the support they needed, and they paid the
ultimate price. And their families have been left with an empty
I know that the Members of this committee recognize the
need for action, and I am delighted that the Senate recently
approved the SAFER Act as an amendment that we offered to the
Defense Department Authorization Bill. Senator Warner and
Senator Levin, as I have mentioned, cosponsored the
legislation, and we are grateful for their standing support.
I think we stand a chance of passing this, Mr. Chairman,
with your help and others, with this conference report. It is
not as comprehensive as many of us would like, but I think
realistically it is--requires appropriation over three years.
We authorized money for 10. It requires cooperation, obviously,
at the state level. This isn't the Federal Government taking on
this responsibility entirely, but becoming a good partner, not
unlike what we did with the COPS Program. So for all of those
reasons, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the generosity of allowing
a Member from the other body to come over here as, again, my
friend, Mo Udall, said years ago when I left the House and went
to the Senate, I was improving the intelligence of both bodies
with that move. So that--it is nice to be invited back to the
House, and particularly to a committee that I enjoyed serving
on almost 30 years ago.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Dodd follows:]
Prepared Statement of Senator Christopher J. Dodd
Chairman Boehlert and distinguished Members of the Science
Committee, I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you this
morning to discuss a matter of great importance to communities around
the country. I know I'm preaching to the choir today, but the work
before us is too important for us to take anything for granted and I
wanted to say to the Members of this committee that I support your
efforts to pass legislation to help ensure that America's local fire
agencies have the human resources that they need to meet the challenge
of an extended war against terrorism and to address the myriad of other
dangers that firefighters face every day.
We are in this effort together and together we can provide
America's fire service with the resources it needs. Mr. Chairman,
firefighting is a dangerous business, but we can help make it
relatively less dangerous. I applaud your leadership on this matter and
I look forward to working with you to secure quick passage of the SAFER
Act. I also want to thank Congressman Curt Weldon for his leadership on
this and other fire service issues. Congressman Weldon and I share a
commitment to the fire service that has produced legislative success in
the past with the enactment of the FIRE Act. I hope and believe that we
may be on the verge of another victory now for our nation's
I recognize so many friends of the fire service on the Committee.
Congressman Larson and I have been working together to provide tax
incentives to improve recruitment and retention for volunteer fire
departments. Again, I know that I am preaching to the choir. But we
can't afford to let our shared faith in the fire service blind us to
the task at hand--we have a lot of work to do to get to final passage
of the SAFER Act. We can get there, but we've got to be prepared to act
Chairman Boehlert, as you know, Senator Warner and I introduced the
Senate version of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
(SAFER) Act in the fall of 2001--just weeks after the attacks on
Even before September 11th, many of us in Congress had long
recognized that America's firefighters make extraordinary contributions
to their communities every day. For that reason, the FIRE Act was
signed into law in the fall of 2000. But on September 11, 2001, we got
a glimpse of the larger role that the men and women of the fire service
play. The national role of our firefighters has become apparent and our
firefighters have made the Nation proud.
After September 11th, we know that America needs its firefighters
to be better prepared to respond to deliberate acts of terror and
destruction. The fire service needs to be better prepared to deal with
acts of bioterrorism and it needs to be prepared to help save people
who have been attacked with toxic chemical weapons. In short, America's
fire departments need to be prepared for what once seemed unthinkable.
Despite the increasingly important role firefighters play as part
of our national homeland defense system, communities over the years
have not been able to maintain the level of staffing necessary to
ensure the safety of the public or our firefighters themselves. Since
1970, the number of firefighters as a percentage of the U.S. workforce
has steadily declined and the budget crises that our State and local
governments are now enduring have only made matters worse. Across the
country today, firefighter staffing is being cut and fire stations are
even being closed because of State and local budget shortfalls.
According to a ``Needs Assessment Study'' recently released by the
U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Fire Protection
Association (NFPA), understaffing contributes to enormous problems. For
example, the USFA and NFPA have found that only eleven percent (11
percent) of our nation's fire departments have the personnel they need
to respond to a building collapse involving fifty (50) or more
The consequences of understaffing are often tragic. According to
testimony by Harold Schaitberger, General President of the
International Association of Firefighters, presented before the Senate
Science, Technology and Space Subcommittee on October 11, 2001,
understaffing has caused or contributed to recent firefighter deaths in
Memphis, Tennessee; Worcester, Massachusetts; Iowa; Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania; Chesapeake, Virginia; Stockton, California; Lexington,
Kentucky; Buffalo, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and
Washington, D.C. In each case, firefighters went into dangerous
situations without the support they needed and they paid the ultimate
price. And their families have been left with an empty place at the
I know that the Members of this committee recognize the need for
action. And I am delighted that the Senate recently approved the SAFER
Act as an amendment that I offered to the Fiscal Year 2004 Department
of Defense Authorization bill. Senator Warner and Senator Levin co-
sponsored the amendment and were critical to its success. But again,
there's still more work to be done.
I think we stand a chance of passing the SAFER Act the same way we
passed the FIRE Act back in 2000, when Senator DeWine, Senator Levin,
Senator Warner and I worked to successfully attach the FIRE Act to the
DOD bill. I'm sure Congressman Weldon remembers that effort because he
worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the FIRE provision during
the conference to reconcile the House and Senate bills. The FIRE Act
has been a tremendous success. The FIRE Act grant initiative has
provided nearly half a billion dollars in direct assistance to local
fire departments across the country and will provide another $750
million this year. We are beginning to significantly improve the
quality of the equipment available to firefighters in every state and
in communities large and small.
And now, with Senate passage of the SAFER Act, we have taken a
significant step forward toward improving staffing conditions for
America's fire service. I know that several Members of the Science
Committee may serve on the DOD conference committee and I pledge my
support to each of you as you work through the SAFER provisions.
In closing let me say that the SAFER Act honors America's
firefighters. It acknowledges the men and women who charge up the
stairs while everybody else is running down. But it does more than
that. This legislation is an investment in America's security, an
investment to ensure the safety of our businesses, our firefighters,
our homes, and our families.
Chairman Boehlert. It is always good to welcome you back,
Senator, particularly to your committee of origin, if you will.
Senator Dodd. Thank you very much.
Chairman Boehlert. I want to thank both of you for your
eloquent testimony and your commitment to the fire services. We
will be working in partnership to see this thing through to its
intended conclusion. Thank you very much.
Senator Dodd. Thanks very, very much.
Chairman Boehlert. Now we will go to Panel 3. Panel 3 will
consist of the Honorable James Shannon, the President of the
National Fire Protection Association. It is always good to
welcome back to Capitol Hill; he is a frequent visitor, a
former colleague in the House of Representatives.
And we have--I am honored, particularly, to have from my
Congressional District, Mike Quill, Chief of the Auburn Fire
Department in Auburn, New York. Chief Quill has been a member
of the Fire Service for nearly 30 years, all with the
department in Auburn, New York, where he was born and raised.
The Chief has been heading the department for eight years, but
is no stranger to the challenges of the rank and file
firefighter. That is because, during Mike's long career, he
rose through the ranks, serving at all levels from firefighter
to lieutenant to captain to municipal training officer to
assistant chief and finally becoming chief of the department in
1995. In addition to serving his community in the fire
services, Chief Quill served his country in the United States
Marine Corps, service that included a tour in Vietnam. That is
an enviable record of service. And again, we are so honored you
could join us today to give us your perspective from the front
lines of Fire Service.
And now for the purpose of introduction, the Chair is
pleased to recognize Mr. Udall.
Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I want to thank you
for including Mr. Michael McNeill on the witness list for
today's hearing. Mike's current title is District Vice
President for the International Association of Fire Fighters.
In this capacity, he serves on the International Association's
National Executive Board, representing firefighters in
Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming. He was a Denver,
Colorado firefighter for 33 years and previously served as
President of the Colorado Professional Firefighters. He also
previously served as President of the Denver Firefighters.
I know that his testimony, reflecting his wealth of
experience, will be a valuable contribution to the hearing
record and to the Committee's understanding of the need for
this important legislation. So I welcome Mike to the Committee,
and I look forward to hearing your testimony. Thanks for being
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. And for the purpose
of an introduction, the Chair recognizes Mr. Miller.
Mr. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am pleased to
introduce Jeff Cash. Jeff Cash is from Cherryville, or as it is
pronounced in North Carolina, Cherville. He is the Program
Coordinator from the North Carolina State Firemen's Association
and also is now the President of the North Carolina State
Firemen's--in addition to being the Program Coordinator, is
President of the North Carolina State Firemen's Association. He
was also the volunteer Fire Chief for the City of Cherryville.
He was chosen by other firefighters as the North Carolina State
Fireman of the Year in 1990. And Mr. Chairman, to give you an
idea of what the State of North Carolina is like, it turns out
that Mr. Cash grew up playing ball with a younger brother, one
of my wife's and my best friends.
Chairman Boehlert. Yeah, we are pleased to welcome the
gentleman from Cherryville.
Mr. Miller. Cherville.
Chairman Boehlert. Cherville? All right. We want to get
that straight. Thank you very much.
Gentlemen, we would appreciate it if you could summarize
your testimony. We are not going to be arbitrary in watching
the clock every minute, so don't get nervous if that suddenly
goes from green to yellow to red. What you have to say is very
important to this committee, and we want the advantage of your
input. And we appreciate you all being willing to serve as
resources for the Committee.
We will go from the Chair down, left to right, with our
colleague, former Congressman Shannon first. What is more
important, former Congressman or President?
Mr. Shannon. Former Congressman.
Chairman Boehlert. There you go. Thank you very much. Mr.
STATEMENT OF HONORABLE JAMES M. SHANNON, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL
FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION
Mr. Shannon. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, Ranking
Member Hall, Members of the Committee. My name is Jim Shannon.
I am the President of NFPA. And we are very pleased to be here
in support of this very important legislation today.
While legislation for the purposes of this one would be of
interest to NFPA at any time, we are especially pleased to see
it and support it now, because it responds to gaps in personnel
that we have recently documented. And we believe that this
legislation, the SAFER legislation, would go a long way to
address those gaps.
I would like to get right into it and touch on the changing
demographics of fire departments and what those changes mean
for the likely personnel shortfall in the future. And I would
like to provide background on relative NFPA standards and other
guidelines that define necessary fire department staffing for
safe and effective response. Now much of my testimony today is
based on some very troubling findings from the Needs Assessment
that Senator Dodd referred to, which was a study authorized by
Congress and conducted by NFPA in cooperation with FEMA. And
those findings are bolstered by other studies conducted by NFPA
over the past 15 years.
Our research found that areas of greatest concern are a
shortage of fire stations to provide emergency response times
that meet the guidelines of the Insurance Services Office and
NFPA 1710 and insufficient staffing on responding fire
apparatus for safe and effective firefighting inside a building
in accordance with NFPA 1710 and 1720. Simply stated, at least
65 percent of our nation's cities and towns don't have enough
fire stations to achieve the widely recognized ISO response
time guidelines. And those guidelines recommend that first call
companies in ``built upon'' areas of the city be located to
ensure travel distance within one and a half miles. That
guidance is consistent with NFPA 1710 that firefighters respond
within 40--within four minutes 90 percent of the time. However,
arriving on scene in time isn't enough if you arrive without
the necessary resources to make a difference.
NFPA Standards 1710 and 1720 define safe and effective
response to structure fires in the 21st century. Both standards
are developed through the voluntary consensus process, a
process that you are very familiar with and that Congress has
expressed support of through the National Technology Transfer
and Advancement Act of 1995. And all of our standards are
accredited by ANSI. The Needs Assessment survey found fire
departments protecting communities of at least one million
citizens had at least four career firefighters assigned to
engines, but the numbers break down in smaller communities.
Only 60 percent of departments protecting communities of
250,000 to one million had four career firefighters assigned to
engines. And departments serving populations of 100,000 to
250,000, only 44 percent could make that claim. And in
communities between 10,000 and 100,000, just 20 to 26 percent
of the departments offered that necessary coverage. And this is
our best information on the level of adoption of NFPA 1710 as
With regard to 1720, which deals with volunteer
firefighters, most smaller communities protected by an all
volunteer or mostly volunteer fire department responded with
four or more firefighters to a mid-day house fire, but for
many, the total response was only adequate for two functional
crews on the scene. What remains unclear and unmeasured is how
long it took to assemble those firefighters.
When fewer than four firefighters are on scene, first
responders face a cruel choice between initiating an interior
attack without proper manpower to secure their own safety
during high-risk operations or delay the interior fire attack
until additional forces arrive. And obviously, the latter
increases the danger to occupants and overall damage to
property. Both NFPA 1500, the Standard on Fire Service
Occupational Safety and Health, and Federal OSHA regulations,
require a minimum of two firefighters to back up an initial
team of at least two firefighters working in a hazardous
environment. This is the ``two-in-and-two-out rule''.
Closing these gaps requires more firefighters. There are no
short cuts. Just to staff the number of fire stations required
to meet response time guidelines, we estimate 25,000 to 35,000
more career firefighters are needed. And to address the
staffing of existing departments so that firefighters safely
and effectively mount an interior attack on a fire, another
50,000 career officers are needed.
Investigations by NFPA and NIOSH have shown that a lack of
adequate staffing has contributed to several firefighter
fatalities in recent years. Increasing firefighter staffing to
meet NFPA standards will help to protect the lives of our
firefighters and our citizens.
If I could just touch on one or two more points in the
Needs Assessment, I know my time has expired, Mr. Chairman, the
Needs Assessment also pointed to shortfalls in training,
certification, equipment, and apparatus. While the existing
FIRE Act has started to address those needs, the funding level
has been only a fraction of the full cost.
And add to this backdrop the challenges that you referred
to earlier, the terrorism and the needs faced by those new
challenges, we can see that this is a very dire situation. A
recent analysis by NFPA shows that training and equipment needs
for terrorism preparedness would run to tens of billions of
dollars in initial costs and billions more in each subsequent
year to maintain proficiency. And those estimates presume that
there will be a sufficient number of first responders to
perform assigned jobs, which is what the SAFER bill rightly
For all of these reasons, Mr. Chairman, we believe that
this is an essential piece of legislation. And we are very
strongly in support of it and looking forward to working with
you for its adoption and its implementation.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Shannon follows:]
Prepared Statement of James M. Shannon
Chairman Boehlert, Ranking Member Hall and Members of the
Committee, I am honored to appear before this committee today. My name
is James M. Shannon, and I am President and Chief Executive Officer of
the National Fire Protection Association. NFPA is a non-profit
organization, founded more than 100 years ago, with a mission to save
lives through fire and life safety education and training, and fire
research and analysis. NFPA also develops consensus codes and standards
that are adopted by State and local jurisdictions throughout the United
States and widely used by the Federal Government.
I am here to testify in support of your legislation, H.R. 1118, the
Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Firefighters Act of
2003 or SAFER. This proposed grant program will provide needed
financial assistance to career, volunteer and combination fire
departments to hire firefighters to help meet industry standards and
community needs to provide adequate protection from fire and other
hazards including acts of terrorism. While legislation for this purpose
would be of interest to NFPA at anytime, we are especially pleased to
see it and support it now, because it responds to gaps in personnel
that we have recently documented. SAFER would go a long way to address
I will touch on the changing demographics of fire departments and
what those changes mean for the likely personnel shortfall in the
future. And I will provide background on relevant NFPA standards and
other guidelines that define necessary fire department staffing for
safe and effective response.
Much of my testimony is based on troubling findings from the
recently published ``Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire Service,'' a
study authorized by Congress and conducted by NFPA in cooperation with
FEMA. Those findings are bolstered by other studies conducted by NFPA
over the past 15 years.
Our research found that the areas of greatest concern are a
shortage of fire stations to provide emergency response times that meet
the guidelines of the Insurance Services Office (ISO) and NFPA 1710;
and insufficient staffing on responding fire apparatus for safe and
effective firefighting inside a building, in accordance with NFPA
Standards 1710 and 1720.
Simply stated, at least 65 percent of our nation's cities and towns
don't have enough fire stations to achieve the widely recognized ISO
response-time guidelines. Those guidelines recommend that first-call
companies in ``built upon'' areas of the city be located to ensure
travel distances within 11/2 miles. That guidance is consistent with
the requirements of NFPA 1710 that firefighters respond within four
minutes, 90 percent of the time. However, arriving on scene in time
isn't enough if you arrive without the necessary resources to make a
NFPA Standards 1710 and 1720 define safe and effective response to
structure fires in the 21st century. Both standards are developed
through the voluntary consensus process, a process that Congress
mandated for standards used by federal agencies, with the enactment of
the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. All NFPA
standards developed through this process are accredited by the American
National Standards Institute.
The needs assessment survey found fire departments protecting
communities of at least one million citizens had at least four career
firefighters assigned to engines. But the numbers break down in smaller
communities: Only 60 percent of departments protecting communities of
250,000 to one million had four career firefighters assigned to
engines. In departments serving populations of 100,000 to 250,000 only
44 percent could make that claim. And in communities between 10,000 and
100,000, just 20 to 26 percent of departments offered that necessary
coverage. This is our best information on the level of adoption and
implementation of NFPA 1710, as of late 2001.
With regard to NFPA 1720, most smaller communities protected by an
all volunteer or mostly volunteer fire department responded with four
or more firefighters to a mid-day house fire, but for many, the total
response was only adequate for two functional crews on the scene. What
remains unclear and unmeasured is how long it took to assemble those
When fewer than four firefighters are on scene, first responders
face a cruel choice between initiating an interior attack without
proper manpower to secure their own safety during high risk operations,
OR delay the interior fire attack until additional forces arrive.
Obviously, the latter increases the danger to occupants and overall
damage to the property. Both NFPA 1500, Standard on Fire Service
Occupational Safety and Health, and Federal OSHA regulations require a
minimum of two firefighters to back up an initial team of at least two
firefighters working in a hazardous environment. This is often referred
to as the ``two-in-and-two-out rule.''
Closing these gaps requires more firefighters. There are no short
cuts. Just to staff the number of fire stations required to meet
response-time guidelines, we estimate 25,000 to 35,000 more career
firefighters are needed. And to address the staffing of existing
departments so that firefighters safely and effectively mount an
interior attack on a fire, another 50,000 career officers are needed.
Investigations by NFPA and the National Institute of Occupational
Safety and Health have shown that a lack of adequate staffing has
contributed to several firefighter fatalities in recent years.
Increasing firefighter staffing to meet NFPA standards will help to
protect the lives of our firefighters and our citizens.
The Needs Assessment Survey also pointed to shortfalls in training,
certification, equipment, and apparatus. While the existing FIRE Act
has started to address these needs, the funding level has been only a
fraction of the full cost.
Add to this backdrop, the new challenges of global terrorism and
the long list of training and equipment needs for the modern fire
service grows even longer. A recent NFPA analysis estimates that
training and equipment needs for terrorism preparedness would run to
tens-of-billions of dollars in initial costs and billions more each
subsequent year to maintain proficiency. Those estimates presume there
will be a sufficient number of first responders to perform assigned
jobs, which is what the SAFER bill rightly addresses.
Firefighter demographics have changed substantially in the last 15
years. There are more career firefighters but fewer volunteers, and the
average age of firefighters is rising rapidly.
Between 1986 and 2001, the total number of active firefighters
increased by three percent. While career firefighter numbers increased
by 23 percent, the number of volunteer firefighters decreased by three
percent. Much of the shift is due to the addition of career
firefighters--or more career firefighters--to departments that were
once all-or mostly-volunteer. On top of that shift, the average size of
career departments has grown slightly, while the average size of
volunteer departments has remained unchanged.
In 1986, 30 percent of U.S. firefighters were under 30 years of age
and 36 percent were at least 40 years old. In 2001, 25 percent of U.S.
firefighters were under 30 years of age and 44 percent were at least 40
The shift in the age make up of our departments, suggests a severe
recruitment problem that has been temporarily offset by delayed
retirements and/or better retention.
Collectively, these findings suggest several courses of action:
Career fire departments need more firefighters, even as they've
experienced some success in adding firefighters to meet new
assignments, standards, and guidelines over the past 15 years. There is
nothing to suggest recruiting qualified firefighters would be an
obstacle if departments were properly authorized and funded to do so.
Volunteer fire departments also need more firefighters. While many
communities have dealt with the recruitment decline by retaining older
firefighters, they have, as a result, increased the percentage of
firefighters who are at the highest risk of on-duty fatal injury. The
rate of on-duty firefighter fatalities per 100,000 firefighters rises
sharply after age 40, due primarily to the increased risk of heart
As Congress looks to address the staffing problem through your
legislation, something must also be done to help our volunteer fire
departments with recruitment and retention. Volunteer fire departments
struggle to keep their members and to recruit new members to replace
Chairman Boehlert, your legislation is designed to help both
volunteer and career fire departments. The legislation would provide
greater assistance if the definition of a firefighter would include
those involved in fire prevention, public education, and code
enforcement. Fire departments could then use these funds to hire
personnel to do training activities, fire prevention, public education,
or firefighting. This would dramatically improve some departments'
response capabilities but, equally important, could prevent some
tragedies from occurring in the first place.
Mr. Chairman, when the Needs Assessment Survey was released, I was
asked what I thought it all meant, and I described it as a Call to
Action. The SAFER Bill is an outstanding piece of legislation that
defines, clearly and practically, what actions we are called to take
and must take.
We cannot continue to ask our fire departments to protect our
communities without adequate resources. We would not expect our armed
services to defend our nation without adequate staffing and we should
expect no less from our first responders here at home. But as the
country braces for the unknown at home, our nation's fire departments,
which are nearly always the first to respond in any crisis, are
woefully understaffed to fully protect our citizenry or themselves. The
need is urgent and long overdue.
We all recognize the increased demands that have been placed on our
nation's firefighters since September 11th. We can no longer ask our
fire departments to survive entirely on local tax revenue, or in some
cases fundraisers such as potluck dinners and auctions. The Federal
Government must provide adequate resources and support to our
firefighters to meet the many challenges--whether natural,
unintentional or deliberate--as they protect the public and secure our
Your legislation would begin to address these urgent needs, and
NFPA not only enthusiastically endorses SAFER, we urge its passage.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I
will be happy to answer any questions you or other Members of the
Committee may have.
Biography for James M. Shannon
James Shannon served as NFPA Senior Vice President and general
counsel from 1991-2002. In that time he oversaw all legal affairs of
the association and also had administrative and real estate
responsibility for NFPA's properties. Mr. Shannon has had a visible
role in the organization's operations and government affairs, both
domestically and abroad. Previously, he was elected Attorney General of
the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where he pursued numerous policy
issues, including a focus on antitrust. Mr. Shannon was senior partner
in the Boston law firm Hale & Dorr and from 1979 to 1985, he served in
the United States House of Representatives. Mr. Shannon earned his BA
degree at Johns Hopkins University and his JD at George Washington
University School of Law.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much, Mr. Shannon. We do
appreciate your testimony. The Chair is pleased to recognize
Chief Quill. And we pronounce it up our way Auburn. Chief.
STATEMENT OF MR. MICHAEL D. QUILL, CHIEF, AUBURN, NEW YORK FIRE
Mr. Quill. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Members of the
I would like to start out by talking a little bit about my
hometown of, as you said, Auburn, New York. Auburn is a small
city located in central New York. According to the latest
census, the population stands at 28,574 people and covers an
area of 8.6 square miles. In 2002, the City of Auburn responded
to 3,635 calls for service, including structure fires, vehicle
fires, emergency medical calls, service calls, and so forth and
The department works on a rotating four-platoon cycle with
one platoon on days, one platoon on nights, and two platoons on
their time off. All four shifts are staffed with 17 personnel
with the number of normal working personnel on duty is 14,
which includes a Chief Officer, a Captain, Lieutenants,
Firefighters. These same personnel operate with three engine
companies, a Hook & Ladder, a rescue vehicle, and the command
For a structural fire response, it would include all on-
duty personnel. If any sign of fire is visible, an automatic
callback is instituted, which would start bringing in personnel
from home. With 14 personnel on duty, there are not enough
people to extinguish the fire. One Command Officer, one--at
least one pump operator, a person to operate the aerial device,
a fast team or a Rid team, which is the ``two-in-two-out''--
pertains to the ``two-in-two-out'', who rescue the rescuers and
for fire suppression, ventilation, rescue, salvage, that brings
us down to eight people.
These same eight firefighters are responsible for rescuing
any trapped occupants, advancing hose lines, ventilating the
structure so the hose lines can be advanced, placing ladders
around the structure. Under the best of conditions, this
requires a response of a less--of at least 15 people minimum,
but ideally there should be in the neighborhood of 20 people.
In 1973, when I was hired as a firefighter for the Auburn
Fire Department, we had 96 people in the job: 20 people
assigned per shift, and not every working fire was an automatic
callback for aid. The department was able to handle every call,
and very seldom had to callback for additional personnel. As
time went on, budget constraints, one of the first things to
cut back were personnel.
The fire department's operating budget for the last three
years averaged out to $3.9 million. From this, 92 percent is
deducted for personnel costs, salary, overtime, fringe
benefits, and so forth. This leaves approximately $316,000 per
year for tools, turnout gear, a self-contained breathing
apparatus, vehicle replacement. Turnout gear costs
approximately 200--or excuse me, $2,000 per individual. SCBA's
are approximately $2,000 approximately. Vehicles start at
$300,000 and go up. As you can see, there is not a great deal
left over for additional personnel.
Why do we need more firefighters? The primary reasons for
hiring additional firefighters are very simple: greatly
enhances the efficiency on-scene; increased safety, both for
firefighters and the victims they are assisting; and enhanced
planning and training to protect both firefighters and the
communities they serve.
While some jurisdictions require four firefighters to staff
a single piece of apparatus, most staff with only three, and in
my city, at times, we were down to two people. By increasing to
four firefighters per unit, we will generate 100 percent
increase in operational capacity compared with three-person
companies. Under federal administrative law and proper safety
practices, firefighters must operate in teams of at least two
people. Therefore fire apparatus staffing of four will yield
two working teams of two, doubling the capacity of apparatus
staff with only three personnel.
Linked to this substantial gain in productivity is a
commensurate increase in safety, both for firefighters and for
the victims they are assisting. On emergency responses, time is
critical and minutes, or even seconds, can often mean the
difference between life and death. The SAFER bill will help
local governments provide necessary staffing on the initial
response and not allow precious time to slip away as the first
personnel on scene wait for additional firefighters to arrive.
I do not live in a dream world and expect personnel levels
will ever be the same as in the early '70's. However, as a Fire
Chief, I realize that any additional personnel will be a huge
benefit to the City of Auburn, as it would to all cities in the
fire departments throughout the country.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Quill follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michael D. Quill
Auburn, is a small city located in Central New York. According to
the latest census, Auburn has a population of is 28,574 people and
covers an area of 8.6 square miles.
In 2002, the city of Auburn responded to 3,635 calls for service
including structure fires, vehicle fires, emergency medical calls,
hazardous conditions and service calls.
The department works on a rotating four platoon cycle with one
platoon on days, one platoon on nights and two platoons on their off
time. All four shifts are staffed with 17 personnel; with the normal
number of personnel on duty being 14. This includes a Chief Officer, a
Captain, Lieutenants and Fire Fighter's. These same personnel operate
with three engine companies, a Hook & Ladder, a rescue vehicle and a
For a structural fire response, it would include all on duty
personnel. If any sign of fire is visible, an automatic call back is
instituted, which would start bringing in personnel from home. With 14
personnel on duty, there are not enough people to extinguish the fire.
The breakdown is as follows:
Command Officer (1 person)
Pump Operator (1 person)
Aerial Device operator (1 person)
Fast team (3 people)
Fire suppression, ventilation, rescue, salvage (8 people)
These same eight firefighters' are responsible for rescuing any
trapped occupants, advancing hose lines, ventilating the structure so
that the hose lines can be advanced, placing ladders around the
structure. Under the best of conditions, this requires a response of at
least 15 people minimum but ideally, this should be in the neighborhood
of 20 people.
In 1973 when I was hired as a firefighter the Auburn Fire
Department had 96 people on the job, 20 people assigned per shift, not
every working fire was an automatic call back of personnel. The
department was able to handle every call and very seldom had to ``call
back' for additional personnel. As time went on, budget constraints one
of the first things to be cut back were personnel.
The Fire departments operating budget for the last three years
averages out to $3,956,330.00. From this 92 percent is deducted for
personnel costs (salary, overtime and fringe benefits). This leaves
approximately $316,506.00 per years for tools, turnout gear, SCBA
vehicle replacement, etc. Turnout gear costs $2,000.00 per set, SCBA's
are at $2,000 each and vehicles start at $300,000.00 and go up. As you
can see there is not a great deal left over for additional personnel.
I do not live in a dream world, and expect personnel levels will
ever be the same as in the early 70's. However, as a fire chief I
realize that any additional personnel will be a huge benefit to the
city of Auburn, as it would to all cities and fire departments
throughout the country.
Why Do We Need More Firefighters?
The primary reasons for hiring additional firefighters are very
1. Greatly enhanced efficiency on-scene,
2. Increased safety, both for firefighters and the victims
they are assisting, and
3. Enhanced planning and training to protect both firefighters
and the communities they serve.
While some jurisdictions require four firefighters to staff a
single piece of fire apparatus, most staff with only three and in my
city at times we are down to two. By increasing to four firefighters
per unit, we will generate a 100 percent increase in operational
capacity compared with three-person companies. Under federal
administrative law and proper safety practices, firefighters must
operate in teams of at least two people. Therefore, fire apparatus
staffing of four will yield two working teams of two, doubling the
capacity of apparatus staffed with only three personnel.
Linked to this substantial gain in productivity is a commensurate
increase in safety both for firefighters and for the victims they are
assisting. On emergency responses, time is critical and minutes, or
even seconds, can often mean the difference between life and death. The
SAFER bill will help local governments provide necessary staffing on
the initial response and not allow precious time to slip away as the
first personnel on-scene wait for additional firefighters to arrive.
Why Federal Funding?
Traditionally, fire departments have responded to isolated, local
incidents. For the occasional, large-scale response, mutual aid from a
neighboring jurisdiction often provided the needed, additional
In the aftermath of September 11th, it is no longer sufficient for
fire departments to plan for these limited events. In the midst of our
ongoing war on terrorism, local fire departments must be prepared for
coordinated, well-orchestrated attacks aimed at American citizens on
American soil. These attacks require the emergency response system to
have significant surge capacity--of both manpower and equipment. Local
governments cannot provide these resources alone. Properly preparing
for and coordinating this type of response requires the assistance and
financial support of the Federal Government.
Recent economic conditions have forced fire departments to make
significant budget cuts which are forcing staff reductions across the
country. Departments have also been directly affected by the military
call-ups necessary for the war in Iraq. A recent survey conducted by
the International Association of Fire Chiefs has shown that the
smallest fire departments are disproportionately affected by the call-
up of military personnel. These departments are the least able to
absorb the loss of trained staff and will find much benefit from the
legislation proposed by the SAFER Act.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)--the consensus,
standard-making body for the fire service--has published the consensus
standard on recommended staffing for career and combination fire
departments. Based on this standard, we know that many of these fire
departments are understaffed.
In addition, volunteer fire departments across the country are
facing great difficulty in maintaining their ranks of volunteer
firefighters. There are a wide variety of reasons for this decline, but
its impact is unmistakable. NFPA statistics show a consistent,
significant downward trend over the last two decades.
Fortunately, relatively small investments in one or two career
personnel can pay large dividends to a rural community served by a
predominantly volunteer department. For example, by hiring a full-time
training officer the department can maximize the safety and
productivity of its volunteers by making sure their training regimen is
up-to-date and that certifications are current for all firefighters.
Congress and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
On May 22, 2003 the Senate recognized the importance of
establishing a federal initiative to enable State and local governments
to hire additional firefighters through passage of a legislative
amendment including firefighter staffing provisions. This is a
significant step as the Federal Government has recognized and responded
to fire and emergency service staffing needs. Unfortunately, this
legislation authorized less than one-half of the $7.5 billion that is
needed to support the SAFER Act. We look to the House of
Representatives to pass SAFER with full funding and support its move
through congressional conference.
It is important to recognize the leadership that Chairman Boehlert
has offered by introducing the SAFER Act. This legislation helps
communities meet minimum fire personnel needs in a variety of emergency
situations. It builds upon the highly successful Assistance to
Firefighters grant program (also known as the FIRE Act), which provides
fire departments funding for basic equipment and training, and helps
make our communities more safe for the first responders and citizens of
this great nation.
Biography for Michael D. Quill
My name is Michael D. Quill and I am the Fire Chief of Auburn, NY.
I was born and raised in Auburn; after graduating from high school, I
entered the United States Marine Corps and served on active duty for
four years, including a tour in Vietnam. Upon completion of my
enlistment, I started my career with the Auburn Fire Department in
November of 1973. During my 291/2 years I have worked in all ranks of
the Department from Firefighter to Lieutenant, to Captain, to Municipal
Training Officer to Assistant Chief and, in February of 1995, I was
promoted to Chief of Department. I have been married to the former Joan
McDonald for twenty-nine years. We have two children. Michael Jr. is a
Police Officer in North Syracuse, NY and Colleen has just graduated
from State University of New York at Cortland with a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Elementary Education.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much, Chief. Chief Cash.
Mr. Cash. Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity----
Chairman Boehlert. Microphone, please.
STATEMENT OF MR. JEFFREY C. CASH, CHIEF, CHERRYVILLE, NORTH
CAROLINA FIRE DEPARTMENT
Mr. Cash. Thank you for your leadership, Mr. Chairman, and
Mr. Hall, as well. Thank you, Mr. Miller, for the introduction.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Jeff
Cash. I currently serve as the volunteer Fire Chief for the
City of Cherryville Fire Department in Cherryville, North
Carolina. In addition, I work full-time as a program
coordinator for the North Carolina State Firemen's Association.
I also serve as the State's Director, or Delegate, to the
National Volunteer Fire Council. The National Volunteer Fire
Council represents interests of the Nation's nearly 800,000
volunteer firefighters who staff nearly 90 percent of America's
Thank you for the honor and privilege you have afforded me
by allowing me to address this committee and express my views
concerning H.R. 1118, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and
Emergency Response Act and the manpower needs of America's Fire
Service. Over the past year, you have heard from many national
Fire Service organizational leaders regarding the SAFER Act. I
am sure that their information has provided you with much
insight to this bill and how it will positively effect
America's Fire Service.
Personnel shortages are a tremendous concern for America's
Fire Service. Many departments and communities of all sizes
struggle on a daily basis to adequately staff local fire
stations and respond to calls. Personnel shortfall endangers
the safety of firefighters and hinder their ability as first
responders to effectively protect the public from fires and
other hazards. Many studies and standards, such as NFPA that
you have previously heard about, indicate there needs to be a
minimal number of personnel on-scene to perform life-saving
measures safely. Other studies indicate proper staffing is
required to adequately protect property. Simply put, when
firefighters can not safely work, they are unable to save lives
The SAFER Act authorizes the U.S. Fire Administrator to
make grants to states and local governments to hire additional
firefighters. The National Volunteer Fire Council and I support
the passage of this legislation. Modeled after the highly
successful COPS Program, the local governments would jointly
share in the cost of hiring new firefighters over a 4-year
period until the local jurisdiction could absorb responsibility
for funding the new positions. This would provide for the
safety of our firefighters as well as help ensure on-scene
efficiency and allow the Fire Service to guarantee quality fire
protection to the communities across our land.
With all of these critical issues facing volunteer fire
departments, I feel the SAFER bill should also include a
recruitment and retention component to provide additional
grants to local fire departments as local, State, or national
Fire Service organizations. These grants, at a fraction of the
cost of hiring grants, would go a long way to reverse the trend
of high turnover in the volunteer fire services as well as the
national trend that has resulted in the loss of nearly 15
percent of the volunteer ranks in the last 20 years.
Some possible programs that could be implemented with the
recruitment and retention grants include national and local
recruitment campaigns, the creation and augmentation of length
of service award programs, other pension programs for
volunteers, tuition assistance for higher education, and
affordable housing programs, to mention a few.
In fact, since September the 11th, 2001, the President of
the United States has been encouraging all Americans to commit
to service of their neighbors and their nation by becoming
volunteers through Citizen Corps Initiative. Although I am
encouraged by this initiative, we need to ensure that the
recruitment of volunteer emergency service personnel is a vital
part of that program.
The main reasons additional firefighters that--are needed
are: to provide for a higher level of safety for firefighters
and victims during emergencies; to promote a higher degree of
efficiency on the scene of these emergencies; to improve
training to protect the communities across America; and in some
cases, simply meet recommended standards.
Why should the Federal Government be involved? For the
majority of these responses, most local fire departments can
respond to, they can be handled with one- or two-engine
companies, sometimes supplemented by neighboring fire
departments. This was before September the 11th. That day
changed forever the role of the American Fire Service as well
as our country. Not only does the local fire department
continue to respond to fires and medical calls, but now is
looked upon by its community to respond to hazardous material
incidents, incidents involving weapons of mass destruction, as
well as terrorism. And as we all know, terrorism has become a
national issue. Local governments simply can not meet these
financial demands. Being prepared through staffing, training,
equipment, and coordination of these type of incidents will
require financial assistance from the Federal Government.
Finally, it is my understanding that on May 23, 2003, the
United States Senate voted to add the SAFER bill as an
amendment to the fiscal year 2004 Defense Authorization Bill,
S. 1050. However, the House passed their version of the bill,
H.R. 1588 without including the SAFER bill language. I urge the
Members of this committee, and all Members of the House, to
support keeping this language in its final version currently
being worked out by conference committee.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, again, I want to thank you for
your leadership and for the opportunity to share my views with
this committee and for your steadfast support of the Nation's
fire service. I will be glad to answer any questions that you
[The prepared statement of Mr. Cash follows:]
Prepared Statement of Jeffery C. Cash
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, my name is Jeff Cash. I
currently serve as the Volunteer Fire Chief for the City of Cherryville
Fire Department in Cherryville, North Carolina. In addition, I work
full-time as Program Coordinator for the North Carolina State Firemen's
Association. I also serve as North Carolina's State Director to the
National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). The NVFC represents the
interests of the Nation's nearly 800,000 volunteer firefighters, who
staff nearly 90 percent of America's fire departments.
The Cherryville Fire Department consists of thirty-six total
members, seven of which are full-time employees. The career personnel
work a two-man per shift 24-hour rotation. Within these seven full-time
employees is a Fire Inspector/Fire Educator who also serves as a
daytime suppression employee. To supplement this full-time staff is a
part-time clerical person.
The remaining twenty-nine members of the department are volunteer/
paid on call. We have one station which houses two engines, one aerial
truck, and a brush truck. The Cherryville Fire Department averages
approximately 1,050 calls per year. The breakdown of calls is
approximately 350 fire calls and 700 medical calls.
Thank you for the honor and privilege you have afforded me by
allowing me to address this committee and express my views concerning
H.R. 1118, the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response
(SAFER) Act and the manpower needs of America's fire service. Over the
past year, you have heard from many national fire service organization
leaders regarding the SAFER Act. I am sure that their information has
provided you with much insight into how this bill will positively
affect the American Fire Service. During my testimony, I will attempt
to provide additional justification for this bill by providing you with
a glimpse into the needs and issues of my local jurisdiction.
Personnel shortages are a tremendous concern of America's fire
service. Many departments, in communities of all sizes, struggle on a
daily basis to adequately staff local fire stations and respond to
calls. Personnel shortfalls endanger the safety of firefighters and
hinder the ability of first responders to effectively protect the
public from fire and other hazards. Many studies and standards indicate
there needs to be a minimum number of personnel on-scene to perform
lifesaving measures safely. Other studies indicate proper staffing is
required to adequately protect property. Simply put, when firefighters
cannot safely work, they are unable to save lives and property.
The SAFER Act authorizes the U.S. Fire Administrator to make grants
to State and local governments to hire additional firefighters. The
NVFC and I support passage of this legislation. Modeled after the
highly successful COPS Program, local governments would jointly share
the costs of hiring new firefighters over a four-year period until the
local jurisdiction could absorb the responsibility of funding the new
positions. This would provide for the safety of our firefighters as
well as help insure on-scene efficiency and allow the fire service to
guarantee quality fire protection to the communities of America.
As long ago in Philadelphia, one of our forefathers, Benjamin
Franklin, served as a volunteer firefighter. As founder of one of
America's first fire departments, Franklin served his community as best
he could. Remembering that he was a very busy man, I suppose old Ben
missed a few fire calls, but I feel certain that he was there when he
could be. I don't know how much time was required of firefighters back
then, but I believe it was surely less than it is today. As
Philadelphia grew, career firefighters began to replace volunteers
because of call volume and other demographic changes. But rest assured,
volunteer fire companies still play a major role and remain a way of
life in the communities surrounding Philadelphia today. Much is the
same where I live.
I come before you today to tell you about my hometown and the fire
protection we offer to our citizens. I want to discuss the challenges
we face, and to seek your help in alleviating difficulties in
delivering high quality fire and rescue services. From talking with
fire service leaders across our nation, I believe these problems are
common throughout the country.
As Fire Chief, I have aggressively pursued budgeting for necessary
staffing, equipment, and operational needs. A city our size (pop.
5,800) continues to feel the great impact caused by budget cuts, which
are a result of the present economic situation. The City of Cherryville
is losing dollars almost daily from its tax base. Furthermore, we are
possibly facing cuts in this year's budget. To add to our woes, the
state of North Carolina is also withholding monies from the budget for
the City of Cherryville. Our county officials are considering changes
in the way they distribute sales tax revenue to the municipalities.
This would have a dramatic impact on both the city and fire department
budgets. Since my department is already operating at below minimum
staffing levels, we are even more concerned about providing adequate
fire protection and keeping our firefighters safe. My community, under
current conditions, can barely stay operational. With basic
infrastructure needs alone, my community is overwhelmed.
My county, Gaston County, has an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent.
The City of Cherryville is uniquely located at the northwestern corner
of the county surrounded by Cleveland County and Lincoln County. The
unemployment rate for Cleveland County is 11.4 percent and Lincoln
County is 11.3 percent. The actual job loss from the City of
Cherryville since 1995 is over 3,900 jobs. This number is derived
mostly from losses in the textile and trucking industries. The annual
payroll loss is approximately $86 million. You can see from these
statistics how economically crippled my community has become. A
shrinking tax base results in budget cuts. My community simply cannot
afford manpower and staffing costs above its current funding levels.
This, in turn, affects our ability to deliver adequate fire protection,
and as Fire Chief I am greatly concerned about the safety of our
Gaston County is a suburban county in North Carolina that has a
population of 190,000. Fire service for the fifteen municipalities and
unincorporated areas of the county is provided by some 28 fire
departments ranging from fully paid (Gastonia) to combination paid/
volunteer (Cherryville, Belmont, Mount Holly, and Stanley) with the
remaining departments staffed on a fully volunteer basis. Current
staffing in the county includes approximately 600 volunteer members, a
number that has remained fairly constant for more than 10 years.
Annually, the part-time and volunteer firefighters answer more than
7,500 calls for service. This call volume has significantly increased
over the past decade. Please understand that while the number of
volunteers available has remained steady, the work load has increased
drastically. Let's compare the Cherryville Fire Department's 1968
Annual Report to our 2002 Annual Report. In 1968, the department's 26
members spent 564 hours answering 66 calls for service and trained for
a total of 650 hours. In total, members donated about 50 hours per year
to the department. In 2002, our department's 36 members spent more than
4,000 hours on 996 calls to which they were assigned and trained for a
total of 1,700 hours. Our average member donated more than 160 hours
We are facing more calls, more time demands, and higher training
standards, yet we live in an economy that is less charitable than in
previous years. Few, if any business and industrial concerns are
willing to allow firefighters to respond from work. Many times members
are struggling to meet the financial demands for themselves and their
families, and cannot afford to leave a paying job to volunteer. Often,
we lose members because they hold second, even third jobs, trying to
make financial ends meet. Many of our firefighters must drive out of
our community to work which compounds our problem of staffing,
especially during daytime hours. Several of my volunteer firefighters
commute one hour to the Charlotte metro area, work eight hours, and
then commute one hour home. This makes their availability to respond to
calls for service very limited. This is compounded by the demands of
family and church. Bottom line, where time is at a greater premium,
community service holds less of an importance.
In 1968, a person was considered a firefighter when they completed
42 hours of training. Given the equipment used then and the situations
that were encountered, 40-80 hours of training was probably sufficient
to indoctrinate a person. As the complexity of equipment used and
situations now encountered are more diverse, training demands have
increased. Before placing a person in danger's way, minimal training is
needed to achieve compliance with the National Fire Protection
Association's minimum standards. Firefighter I, considered the minimum
training, requires over 200 hours. Firefighter II is another 150 hours.
To be certified as an Emergency Rescue Technician requires 240 hours of
training. For Emergency Medical Technician's, the minimal training
required to treat patients in an ambulance is over 160 hours. More
recent years have added training requirements for recognition and
proper handling of incidents involving hazardous materials, weapons of
mass destruction and now terrorism events.
You may have heard some suggest that we need to reduce training
requirements for volunteers. I however have chosen another path. Fire
does not know, nor care, the employment status of a firefighter. It
kills and injures volunteer and career firefighters without regard.
Citizens deserve well-trained, experienced responders.
Granted, anywhere in the United States a large portion of our calls
can be handled with four responders. It is those larger incidents where
15-20 members are required to safely and adequately function that
become a problem.
A 1999 survey conducted of Gaston County's Fire Service indicated
that the average turnover of volunteers exceeds 25 percent annually. As
with any business, this turnover rate is unhealthy. When we average
retaining a person only four years, we have less experience and are
constantly training new members. Officers are more prone to have good
technical skills rather than having the opportunity to develop
leadership skills needed to coordinate and to some extent, accommodate
So what is needed? Volunteers are not free. Their time--time away
from their families, time away from their jobs, and time to respond--is
donated but it costs them. Lack of time is the most often cited reason
for not joining and for leaving the fire/rescue services. Other reasons
include jobs, second jobs, family, children, aging parents, church, and
Often we find that a person who will train for and respond to
emergencies does not have sufficient time to attend to routine details
such as equipment maintenance, record keeping, business meetings, and
fundraising activities within the fire station. These details are
essential for fire department operation; however, many are unwilling to
volunteer time to accomplish that portion of the mission. Sometimes
adequate funding can remove barriers to accomplishing these tasks. We
must fund individual communities to assure that sufficient, adequately
trained personnel are available to meet their citizens' needs.
With all of these critical issues facing volunteer fire
departments, I feel that the SAFER Bill should also include a
recruitment and retention component to provide additional grants to
local departments, as local, State or national fire service
organizations. These grants, at a fraction of the cost of the hiring
grants, would go a long way to reverse the trend of high turnover in
the volunteer fire service as well as the national trend that has
resulted in a loss of nearly 15 percent of the volunteer rank in the
last 20 years. They would be very useful for departments that won't
have the ability or need to take part in the hiring part of the
Some possible programs that could be implemented with recruitment
and retention grants include; national and local recruitment campaigns;
the creation and augmentation of length of service award programs and
other pension programs for volunteers; tuition assistance for higher
education; and affordable housing programs.
In addition, since September 11, 2001, the President of the United
States has been encouraging all Americans to commit to service of their
neighbors and their nation by becoming volunteers through the Citizen
Corps Initiative. Although I am encouraged by the initiative, we need
to ensure that the recruitment of volunteer emergency services
personnel is a vital part of that program.
Additionally, if a stipend for response generates member retention,
we need to implement it. If tax breaks to businesses to allow members
to respond from work are needed, make it so. Should the answer be more
community involvement, hire a coordinator to facilitate activities.
Other solutions include tax breaks for volunteering, stipends for
response and training, career staff to facilitate training when
individual volunteers are available, and hiring career members to
complete administrative tasks. All of these solutions are part of a
system to reduce demands so volunteers can focus on the most important
tasks--fighting fires and serving their fellow Americans.
Increased call volume, increased training demands, and greater
requirements are facts of life in America. Firefighting gets no relief.
Back to Ben Franklin, please understand that there is a great
probability that he would not have time to volunteer as a firefighter
in today's age. He would be too busy developing a country, discovering
electricity, writing, and speaking. One has to ask, how many good, even
great leaders would or could volunteer if we simply made it more
conducive to their schedules?
In addition, we need to ensure that firefighters hired under the
SAFER Bill are guaranteed the right to continue to volunteer in other
jurisdictions during their off-duty hours. Many career firefighters who
work in larger communities often live in smaller communities and belong
to their local volunteer fire volunteer departments. These individuals
should be able to provide their invaluable knowledge and expertise to
their local department, which are responsible for protecting their own
homes and family, without harassment from employers or labor
Finally, it is my understanding that on May 23, 2003 the United
States Senate voted to add the SAFER Bill as an amendment to the FY
2004 Defense Authorization bill (S. 1050). However, the House passed
their version of the bill (H.R. 1588) without including the SAFER Bill
language. I urge the Members of this committee and all Members of the
House to support keeping the language in the final version that is
currently being worked out in a conference committee.
In closing Mr. Chairman, I once again thank you the opportunity to
share my views with the Committee and for your steadfast support of the
Nation's fire service. I would be happy to answer any questions you may
Biography for Jeffery C. Cash
To utilize my teaching, human relations, organizational skills, and
leadership ability to design and implement overall programs that assist
firefighters in protecting and serving the citizens of their community.
January 2003-Present--Cherryville, NC
NORTH CAROLINA STATE FIREMEN'S ASSOCIATION
Position Held: Program Coordinator
December 1981-Present--Cherryville, NC
CITY OF CHERRYVILLE FIRE DEPARTMENT
Positions Held: Firefighter, Driver Engineer, Captain/Training
Officer, Fire Chief, and City Emergency Management Director.
Currently serving as Volunteer Fire Chief
September 1981-December 1981--Shelby, NC
CITY OF SHELBY FIRE DEPARTMENT
Position Held: Firefighter
June 1979-September 1981--Rock Hill, SC
CITY OF ROCK HILL FIRE DEPARTMENT
Position Held: Firefighter
Cherryville Senior High School
Cleveland Community College
Fire Service Training
North Carolina Certified Firefighter Level III
North Carolina Certified EMT Defibrillation
North Carolina Certified Fire Officer
North Carolina Certified Hazardous Material Responder
North Carolina Certified Arson Investigator
North Carolina Certified Fire Inspector Level III
Fire Chief Executive Development Program Institute of
Government UNC Chapel Hill
Winner of I.S.F.S.I. Company Officer Scholarship,
April 1984, paper published.
NC Fire College & NC Breathing Equipment School (Lead
Gaston College Senior Instructor
Cherryville Firefighter of the Year, December 1987
NC Firemen's Association Fireman of the Year, 1990
Region 11 Training Advisory Committee
NC Department of Insurance Fire Control Validation
NC General Assembly Legislative Study Commission
North Carolina State Director to National Volunteer
Founder North Carolina Gateway Project
NC State Firemen's Association Board of Directors
August 1995-August 2001
Fire Service Organizations:
International Society of Fire Service Instructors
National Volunteer Fire Council
NC Fire Chief's Association
NC Society of Fire Service Instructors
NC Chapter International Association of Arson
Gaston County Firefighters Association, Board of
Western NC Firemen's Association
Gaston College Advisory Committee (Chairman)
NC State Firemen's Association Legislative Key
Member of First Baptist Church, Cherryville, Deacon
Board, Past Chairman
South Elementary Parent Advisory Board, Chairman
Precinct Chairman, Precinct #44 Cherryville, 1988-
Little League Baseball Coach, 1990-1998
Little League Baseball NC District One District
Little League Baseball International Advisory Board
Ironmen Booster Club, Past President
NC Baptist Men (Disaster Relief Committee)
NC 26th Regiment, Civil War Re-enactor, Private
Cherryville Country Club Board of Directors
Paul Miller, Executive Director, North Carolina State
Firemen's Association, P.O. Box 188, Farmville, NC 27828; 800-
Ken Briscoe, Office of Fire Marshal, 1426 Overlook
Drive, Lenoir, NC 28645; 800-634-7854
Fire Chief Jeff Cash
Jeff Cash is a native of Cherryville, North Carolina. He graduated
from Cherryville High School in 1978 and attended Cleveland Community
College and Gaston College. Jeff began his career as a firefighter for
the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina in June 1979. In September 1981,
he accepted a position as a firefighter with the City of Shelby, North
Carolina. In December 1981, he accepted a position as a firefighter/
driver engineer with the City of Cherryville. He also held the
positions of Captain/Training Officer, City Emergency Management
Director, and was promoted to Fire Chief in 1986. Since January of
2003, he has served as the full-time Program Coordinator for the North
Carolina State Firemen's Association and Volunteer Fire Chief for the
City of Cherryville Fire Department.
During the past twenty-four years, he has been involved with the
Fire Service at all levels. Chief Cash has served as an officer for the
Gaston County Firemen's Association, as President of the Western North
Carolina Firemen's Association, and on the Board of the Directors for
the North Carolina State Firemen's Association for seven years. In
2001, Jeff served as the President of the North Carolina State
Firemen's Association. This organization represents 44,000 firefighters
across the state of North Carolina. In 1990, Jeff was chosen by his
peers as the North Carolina State Fireman of the Year. In 1999, Jeff
was appointed to the National Volunteer Fire Council as North
Carolina's State Director. He still currently serves in this position.
Jeff is married and has two sons who both attend Appalachian State
University in Boone, North Carolina. He currently serves as District
Administrator for Little League Baseball. He also serves on the Little
League Baseball International Advisory Board. He and his family live in
Cherryville, NC and are active members of the First Baptist Church.
Cherryville Fire Department, Cherryville, NC
City of Cherryville consists of 4.2 square miles with a population
of approximately 5,800. The city is located in the Western Piedmont of
North Carolina. The township of Cherryville consists of approximately
14,000 people. Gaston County's population is 190,000.
The Cherryville Fire Department consists of thirty-six total
members, seven of which are full-time employees. The career personnel
work a two-man per shift 24-hour rotation. Within these seven full-time
employees is a Fire Inspector/Fire Educator who also serves as a
daytime suppression employee. To supplement this full-time staff is a
part-time clerical person.
Chief Jeff Cash currently serves the fire department as its
Volunteer Fire Chief. He provides overall leadership and management of
the department. The remaining twenty-nine members of the department are
volunteer/paid on call. They have one station which houses two engines,
one aerial truck, and a brush truck. The Cherryville Fire Department
averages approximately 1,050 calls per year. The breakdown of calls is
approximately 350 fire calls and 700 medical calls.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much, Chief.
And now for our final witness, Mr. McNeill.
STATEMENT OF MR. MICHAEL D. MCNEILL, 9TH DISTRICT VICE
PRESIDENT, INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS (IAFF),
Mr. McNeill. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning. My
name is Mike McNeill, and I am the 9th District Vice President
of the International Association of Fire Fighters. And as noted
by Congressman Udall, I represent the States of Colorado,
Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and Oregon. And indeed, most everything
has been said, and I will keep that in mind and try to keep my
For 33 years, I have had the honor of being a professional
firefighter in Denver, Colorado. And during those years, I also
served as the President of both the local union, Local 858 of
the IAFF, and the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters. On
behalf of General President Harold Schaitberger and the 260,000
professional firefighters and emergency medical personnel of
the IAFF, who collectively protect over 75 percent of our
country's population, I am pleased to be here today testifying
on H.R. 1118, the SAFER Firefighters Act.
Let me begin by thanking you, Mr. Chairman, for your
leadership on this vital issue. Your sponsorship of H.R. 1118
is greatly appreciated by all of the Nation's firefighters.
For nearly 100 years, the members of the IAFF have been
first on the scene whenever and wherever people's lives are in
jeopardy. However, firefighting is only one of our many tasks.
As noted by you, Mr. Chairman, we are the Nation's primary
providers of pre-hospital emergency medical care. We are the
ones who respond whenever hazardous material is released into
the environment. We search and rescue for people who are
trapped or in danger, and more recently, we have assumed the
role of the Nation's first responders to acts of terrorism.
To meet these critical and growing demands, we need
adequate numbers of firefighters. Firefighting is a labor-
intensive operation that requires sufficient numbers of
properly trained and equipped personnel to perform safely and
efficiently at the scene of an emergency. Unfortunately, far
too many fire departments fail to deploy adequate numbers of
firefighters to get the job done.
And the current economic downturn has exacerbated this
problem. For example, my own fire department in Denver,
Colorado has reduced the number of firefighters on duty, and is
considering instituting rolling blackouts where a fire station
is closed for a day on a rotating basis. And the City has told
the fire department to be prepared to lay off an additional 72
firefighters this year. I wish I could say Denver is unique,
but it is not. Fire departments are reducing staff and closing
fire stations from Washington State to New York State.
Nationwide, there is a critical shortage of firefighters, and
that shortage represents a weak link in our homeland defense.
Compounding the staffing shortage is the additional burden
we have assumed of protecting Americans against acts of
terrorism. This creates an unprecedented challenge for the Fire
Service. Each time the alarm rings, we must be prepared for the
possibility that we are responding to an act of war. Our
enemies possess weapons of mass destruction and appear to be
unafraid to use them. If a biological, chemical, or
radiological attack is unleashed against America, firefighters
will be the first to respond. Far too many departments do not
have adequate personnel to perform their mission. And as noted
by Congressman Pascrell, currently 2/3 of all fire departments
are not able to comply with the National Consensus Standards
and OSHA regulations for minimum staffing.
Two-thirds is an outrageous statistic. The frightening fact
is we simply don't have enough people to get the job done. In a
recent survey, FEMA found that a vast majority of fire
departments can not respond to emergencies in a timely manner.
When firefighters do reach the scene, there are not enough
personnel to do the job safely and effectively. And Senator
Dodd noted that only 11 percent of our nation's fire
departments can handle a structural collapse involving rescue
and EMS operations for over 50 people. Considering the enormity
and the destruction on September 11 and in Oklahoma City or
that caused by Hurricane Andrew, it is both sobering and sad to
know that only a small segment of our population has real
protection from terror or natural disasters.
Firefighter staffing has always been and always will be a
local responsibility, and we are not suggesting that change.
But in this dangerous New World in which we live, the Federal
Government has a responsibility to help communities attain the
minimum staffing levels necessary to operate safely in
protecting the public. Such assistance should be targeted,
temporary, but it must be provided quickly and broadly.
On September 11, 2001, we witnessed one of the worst case
scenarios. Terrorism experts had warned us that we should have
been better prepared. The string of attacks that we suffered in
the 1990's, including the first attack on the World Trade
Center and the Oklahoma City bombing, should have alerted us to
the threat. Firefighters have painfully learned the lessons of
September 11. We watched and we grieved as 343 of our brothers
perished that day.
We know that in order to protect our homeland against
future terrorist attacks, the Nation must address the staffing
cuts in our fire departments. Federal dollars for equipment and
training are only as effective as the number of firefighters
available to do the job. To maximize that expenditure and to
ensure adequate homeland security, more firefighters are
needed, and that, Mr. Chairman, is being answered by passing
In closing, I have noted that the Senate has passed an
amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill for 2004. And the
IAFF strongly encourages this committee to support retaining
this provision in the upcoming conference committee.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify
before you. And I would be pleased to answer any questions that
the Committee may have.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McNeill follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michael D. McNeill
Good morning, Mr. Chairman. My name is Michael D. McNeill, and I am
the 9th District Vice President for the International Association of
Fire Fighters (IAFF).
For 33 years of my life, I had the honor of being a professional
firefighter in Denver, Colorado, until I retired from active service in
2000. During my years in the firehouse, I also served as President of
Denver Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 858, President of the Colorado
Professional Fire Fighters, and since 1984, IAFF 9th District Vice
President, which encompasses the great states of Oregon, Nevada, Utah,
Wyoming, and Colorado.
On behalf of General President Harold Schaitberger, and the 260,000
professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel we represent
throughout the United States; and, who according to a recently released
FEMA study, collectively provide fire and emergency response protection
to over 3/4 of the Nation's population, I am pleased to testify on H.R.
1118, the S.A.F.E.R. Firefighters Act.
Let me begin by thanking you for the commitment you've made to the
U.S. fire service as demonstrated by your sponsorship of H.R. 1118.
Your leadership and unrelenting pursuit in seeking to enact the SAFER
legislation is an inspiration to us all. The Nation's firefighters
thank you and we will not forget all that you do to ensure that we are
safe and effective as we perform our duties in protecting our
communities and the Nation.
FIRE FIGHTER STAFFING
For nearly 100 years, the members of the IAFF have been the first
on the scene whenever and wherever people's lives are in jeopardy.
Firefighting is only one dimension of our work. We are the Nation's
primary providers of pre-hospital emergency medical care. We are the
ones who respond whenever a hazardous chemical is released into the
environment. We search for and rescue people who are trapped or in
danger. And more recently, in addition to all we have been doing, we
must also assume the role of the Nation's first responders to acts of
To meet these crucial and growing demands, we need an adequate
number of firefighters. Firefighting always has been and always will be
essentially about people. It is a labor-intensive operation that
requires large numbers of properly equipped and trained personnel to
perform the myriad tasks that must be undertaken at an emergency scene.
Unfortunately, far too many fire departments are currently
deploying inadequate numbers of firefighters to respond safely to
emergency situations. And the current economic downturn has exacerbated
this problem. Even after the lessons of September 11th, municipalities
are failing to adequately staff fire departments.
Examples of short staffing are common in every part of the country.
My own fire department in Denver, Colorado has laid off firefighters,
and has recently instituted ``rolling blackouts'' where fire stations
are closed for a day on a rotating basis. It's your tough luck if you
happen to need a firefighter on the day that your local station is
closed. And the city has told the fire department to prepare to lay off
an additional 72 firefighters this year.
I wish I could say that Denver is unique. Sadly it is not.
In New York State, both New York City and Buffalo are
closing fire stations.
In Massachusetts, Springfield has already laid off 53
firefighters, and Worcester is honoring the memory of the six
firefighters who died in that horrific warehouse fire three
years ago, by laying off 17 firefighters.
In the Midwest, Minneapolis has laid off 44
firefighters, Dayton has eliminated four engine companies and
reduced the number of firefighters per apparatus, and the
township of Bellaire, Ohio plans to close the fire department
In Texas, the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth have
proposed shutting down companies. And Fort Worth and Houston
have reduced the number of firefighters per apparatus.
In the west, Phoenix plans to eliminate three engine
companies and lay off 42 firefighters and Seattle has proposed
eliminating 31 firefighters.
These are just a few examples of a nationwide critical shortage of
firefighters that represents a weak link in our homeland defense.
Compounding the staffing shortage is the new the mission to protect
Americans against terrorist acts, which pose a number of unprecedented
challenges for the fire service. Each time the alarm rings, we must be
prepared for the possibility that it is an act of war. Our enemies
possess weapons of mass destruction, and appear unafraid to use them.
If a biological, chemical, or radiological attack is unleashed against
Americans, it will be firefighters who will respond first. Moreover,
terrorism is forcing us to rethink how personnel are deployed. Rather
than viewing incidents as isolated events, we must confront the
possibility that each incident is but one part of a coordinated attack.
Quite simply, far too many local fire departments don't have
adequate personnel to perform their mission. With the new dangers posed
by terrorists, this situation has reached crisis proportions. Whether
it be a containment and evacuation mission following release of a
radiological material in Texas, evacuating a skyscraper in Los Angeles,
or providing emergency medical care to Members of Congress following an
explosion in the Capitol, the frightening fact of life is that we
simply do not have enough people to get the job done.
Numerous studies have documented the extent of fire fighter
understaffing and the impact it has on fire fighter safety and
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)--the consensus,
standard making body of the fire service--recently completed a report
entitled ``Preparing for Terrorism: Estimated Costs to U.S. Local Fire
Departments.'' The study found that an additional 75,000 to 85,000
firefighters are needed to fully staff fire departments to be able to
safely respond to traditional emergencies and to minimally respond to
Initiated at the request of the Council on Foreign Relations, the
report identified two causes for insufficient firefighters. One, fire
departments do not have enough fire stations within their communities
to meet minimum response times. Two, many departments were responding
with less firefighters than required by national standards. When NFPA
extrapolated the need to fill the two gaps, it found that between
75,000 and 85,000 additional firefighters are necessary.
In its seminal report, ``A Needs Assessment of the U.S. Fire
Service,'' the United States Fire Administration found that the vast
majority of fire departments cannot respond to emergencies in a timely
manner, and when firefighters do reach the scene of an emergency, there
are not enough personnel to do the job safely and effectively. The
report found that up to 75 percent of our nation's fire departments
have too few fire stations to meet response time guidelines. In fire
departments that protect communities with a population of less than a
million, it is common to respond to emergencies with an insufficient
number of firefighters. Further, the report found that only 11 percent
of our nation's fire departments could handle structural collapse
involving rescue and EMS operations for over 50 people. Considering the
enormity of the destruction on September 11th, in Oklahoma City, or
caused by Hurricane Andrew, it is a sobering and sad fact that only a
small segment of our population has real protection from terrorism or
Attempting to respond to fires or other hazards with inadequate
personnel is not only ineffective, it is extraordinarily dangerous.
Every year in our nation, firefighters lose their lives because there
are not enough of them on scene to conduct a safe response.
A study conducted by the Seattle Fire Department found that the
severity of firefighter injuries declined 35 percent when staffing per
apparatus was increased from 3-person crews to 4-person crews. A study
by the Dallas Fire Department found a direct correlation between
staffing levels and both the safety and effectiveness of emergency
response operations. Specifically, the Dallas study found that
inadequate staffing delays or prevents the performance of critical
tasks, increases the physiological stress on firefighters, and
increases the risk to both civilians and firefighters. After analyzing
their data, the authors of the Dallas study concluded, ``staffing below
a crew size of four can overtax the operating force and lead to higher
And studies of firefighter fatalities have consistently identified
inadequate staffing as a key factor in fireground deaths. Since 1997,
NIOSH has investigated every firefighter line-of-duty death as part of
its Fire Fighter Fatality Investigation and Prevention Program. Far too
many of these reports have attributed these deaths to inadequate
personnel on the scene.
NIOSH has been especially critical of the failure of fire
departments to assure that there are adequate numbers of people
stationed outside a dangerous environment during an interior fire
suppression attack. In explaining the need for outside personnel who
are prepared and equipped to perform rescues, one recent NIOSH report
explained, ``Many firefighters who die from smoke inhalation, from a
flashover, or from being caught or trapped by fire actually become
disoriented first. They are lost in smoke and their SCBA runs out of
air, or they cannot find their way out through the smoke, become
trapped, and then fire or smoke kills them.'' These tragic fatalities
occur for only one reason: there are insufficient numbers of fire
fighters on the scene.
The need for adequate fireground personnel has been formally
recognized by standards-making bodies of both the Federal Government
and the fire service industry. Both the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) and NFPA, the consensus standards making body of
the fire service, have promulgated standards designed to achieve safe
OSHA's ``Two-In/Two-Out'' Standard
In 1998, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration amended
its Respirator Standard for firefighters and other employees engaged in
dangerous occupations that require use of breathing apparatus. The
revised standard formally endorsed a safe staffing rule known as ``2-
in/2-out'' that left no doubt about the vital link between sufficient
staffing and firefighter safety.
The 2-in/2-out regulation requires that whenever firefighters enter
a burning structure or other dangerous environment, they must do so in
teams of at least two that operate in direct visual or voice contact.
Additionally, there must be at least two fully equipped and trained
firefighters who remain outside the structure, who are capable of
rescuing the firefighters inside should they become disoriented,
trapped or injured.
Unfortunately, most fire departments do not currently deploy
adequate staffing to comply with this basic safety regulation. The
result is that on-scene incident commanders are faced with the Hobson's
Choice of delaying operations until additional firefighters arrive or
sending firefighters into dangerous environments without sufficient
In the face of the mounting evidence of a severe shortage of
firefighters, NFPA issued its first standard on minimum staffing for
fire departments in the summer of 2001. NFPA Standard 1710, governing
deployment and operations for fire and rescue departments, grew out of
investigations into staffing related line-of-duty injuries and deaths.
Ten years in the making, NFPA 1710 established consensus standards
for minimum safe staffing levels for basic firefighting operations; for
responses to tactical hazards, high hazard occupancies, and high
incident frequencies; and for overall, integrated fireground
operations. If fully implemented, this standard would result in more
effective and more efficient fire and EMS departments across the United
States--and in our business that means lives saved.
OSHA's 2-in/2-out standard and NFPA 1710 clearly articulate the
minimum staffing levels that fire departments need in order to perform
emergency operations safely and effectively. Yet, as of today,
jurisdictions that comply with these standards are in the minority. It
is for this reason that federal assistance is needed and warranted.
The S.A.F.E.R. Fire Fighters Act
To address the staffing crisis facing our nation, a bipartisan
group of Members of Congress crafted the SAFER Fire Fighters Act. In
recent years, the Federal Government has increasingly recognized its
responsibility to assist local governments with the cost of protecting
Americans against hazards. Both the FIRE Act and the programs run by
the Office of Domestic Preparedness (ODP) have provided training and
equipment to local fire departments. Other federal programs provide
funding for emergency response training involving transportation
incidents, superfund sites and nuclear facilities.
None of these programs, however, currently provides any federal
assistance for the most significant need of America's fire service:
firefighting personnel. Even the FIRE Act, which was originally
conceived of as a staffing proposal and lists staffing as the first of
its 14 areas, cannot currently be used to hire firefighters due to the
structure of the program and FEMA's decision to limit the purposes for
which grants can be used.
The SAFER Act would address this void by providing grants to local
fire departments to fund the hiring of 75,000 additional firefighters
over a seven-year period. SAFER would create a four year program under
which fire departments would apply for federal grants that would
contribute to the costs associated with hiring new firefighters, not to
exceed $100,000 over four years for each firefighter hired. Local
jurisdictions would then be required to retain the firefighter
position(s) for at least one additional year.
The SAFER Firefighters Act is an innovative approach to solving the
Nation's need for more firefighters. It is an example of the new type
of federalism that our country needs to combat terrorism. Numerous
federal studies and reports bemoan the lack of coordination between the
different levels of government. The SAFER Fire Fighters Act would be a
step towards better cooperation and coordination amongst local, State,
and Federal governments to respond strongly and decisively to terrorism
and other emergencies.
Although we are aware of no organized opposition to the SAFER Act,
some Members of Congress have raised some legitimate questions, which I
would like to address.
Some argue that paying for firefighter training and equipment may
be a legitimate Federal Government function, but providing aid to hire
personnel crosses some sort of boundary for appropriate federal
involvement. But the Federal Government has long provided financial
assistance to local government for the express purpose of hiring
municipal employees, including police officers, teachers and many other
occupations. President Bush's signature domestic issue, the No Child
Left Behind Act, is only the most recent in a long line of federal
programs that provide funding to hire local government workers.
Other Members question the authorized funding level. They argue
that $1 billion a year is too much money at a time of fiscal restraint.
We disagree. Since September 2001, Congress has passed in excess of $55
billion in supplemental appropriations for homeland security and the
war on terrorism. Additionally, the President has proposed over $36
billion for homeland security in FY 2004, which includes the $3.5
billion First Responder proposal. The funding is available. It is
simply a matter of priorities.
As a firefighter, a first responder, and someone who represents
America's Bravest, I am here today to tell you that no investment in
Homeland Security will do as much to protect Americans as enactment of
the SAFER Fire Fighters Act.
On September 11th, 2001, we witnessed one of the ``worst case
scenarios'' that terrorism experts have warned us about. Yet, the
string of attacks that we suffered in the `90s, including the first
attack on the World Trade Center, and the Oklahoma City and the
Olympics bombings, should have alerted us to the threat. We, as a
nation, should have been better prepared for September 11th.
Firefighters have learned the lessons of September 11th. The signs
won't be ignored as they were in the last decade. We know that the
Nation must confront, and realistically deal with, the next great
threat to our homeland-an attack using weapons of mass destruction. In
order to realistically deal with future terrorist attacks, the Nation
must address the staffing crisis in our fire departments. Federal
dollars spent to purchase training and equipment for firefighters will
only go as far as the number of firefighters. To fully maximize the
money spent and to ensure adequate homeland security, more firefighters
need to be hired.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to testify and I am
pleased to answer any questions the Committee may have.
Biography for Michael D. McNeill
Mr. Michael D. McNeill served over 30 years with the Denver Fire
Department. As a firefighter Technician, for close to a quarter
century, he was on the frontlines protecting the citizens of Denver
from fires, medical emergencies, and natural disasters. In recognition
of his firsthand knowledge of firefighting and his superior
communications skills, Mike McNeill was appointed the department's
public information officer. He retired from the force in 2000.
During Mr. McNeill's years in the firehouse, he also served as the
President of the Denver Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 858, the President of
the Colorado Professional Fire Fighters, and since 1984, IAFF 9th
District Vice President, which encompasses the states of Oregon,
Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.
Michael is a lifetime resident of Denver, Colorado. He is married
to Cynthia, his wife of 35 years, and they have three children Matthew,
Amy, Beth and five grandchildren.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. And I want to thank
all of you. Your entire statements will be in the record
immediately preceding your summation.
And this is a question I have for all of the witnesses. You
know, there are differences in points of view on funding. I am
wedded to the concept that we should bypass the States and the
funding should go directly to departments. But there is a
different point of view. And I would like to have your input on
that. Let us start with you, Mr. Shannon.
Mr. Shannon. Well, I can--Mr. Chairman, I certainly agree
with you. I think that if we can bypass the States and go
directly to the fire departments, as the points have been made
earlier. First, it will get to them more quickly, and secondly,
there will be less administrative overhead siphoned off. So we
fully support going directly to the departments.
Chairman Boehlert. Chief Quill.
Mr. Quill. I have to agree with everyone so far. They
should go directly to the departments. The departments know
what they need and how they can best equip their departments
with the personnel versus the State. The State is of great
assistance, but at this time, I don't believe they belong in
Chairman Boehlert. Okay. Chief Cash.
Mr. Cash. Well, Mr. Chairman, I agree as well. I had the
opportunity to sit as a peer reviewer for the Fire Grants Act
and see that that is very--a very successful program, and we
would like to see this funding travel the same route, directly
to the local fire departments.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you. Mr. McNeill.
Mr. McNeill. I agree with the previous speakers, Mr.
Chairman. The FIRE Act Grant is working well. I think it serves
as a great model for distribution of funds under the SAFER Act.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. And Chief Cash, you
pointed out something about the peer review. I am convinced
that one of the reasons why we have had such great success with
the FIRE Grant Program is that, quite frankly, the politicians,
like me, are in the back. All we do is vote for the money, but
the firefighters themselves establish the criteria and are on
the peer review panels. And boy, we have got the politics out
of it, and we have got the professionals, you guys, on the
firing line doing the peer review. And that is something I
Chief Quill, I--a lot of the local departments have
difficulty filing applications for federal assistance. I know,
and a number of us around the country, have tried to provide
some assistance. I, for one, in my District, have had FEMA
conferences to which I have invited all of the representatives
of the fire services to help get a tutorial on how to fill out
the application to know which number to call when you need a
question answered, that type of thing. Do you feel that your
department is capable, a small department in a small community,
of developing an application for assistance under the FIRE
Grant Program or the new SAFER Program, which we expect will be
a reality shortly?
Mr. Quill. I have completed the application myself this
year for the Auburn Fire Department. After your sponsorship of
a FEMA representative being in Auburn earlier this year, it
really couldn't be any simpler. I am not a computer--I am not
very computer-savvy. I can get through one and I can work with
the answering machine, but they are extremely easy to complete,
just basically fill in the blanks, not a lot of technical
knowledge or--a firefighter can do it very easily.
Chairman Boehlert. So you felt with the FIRE Grant Program
that you had the information you needed to comply with the
Mr. Quill. Absolutely. No problems whatsoever.
Chairman Boehlert. And would you suggest that we--if the
SAFER Program becomes a reality, as we all hope, would you
suggest we follow the same model?
Mr. Quill. The same model, the same formats for application
and for dispersal of the funds, the peer committee, as my
fellow Chief said here, the--just follow them completely. It
would be perfect.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you. Chief Cash, your
Mr. Cash. I agree, as well. The peer review process works.
We have proven that it works. It is a very successful program,
and we would like to see this funding, if possible, track this
Chairman Boehlert. One last thing, and let me ask both of
the Chiefs, have you been impacted by the loss of
professional--of staff to the military? Chief Quill.
Mr. Quill. Shortly after 9/11, we did have one member of
our department called up to Naval Reserve duty, and it had a
definite impact on our department. With his absence, we had to
back-fill through overtime, canceling of certain time off, to
fill this person's shoes. This last round we had, we had just
hired an Army Reservist to come on board with the department.
We were able to get a waiver for this individual not to go to
active duty training until after his training with the Fire
Service was complete. So it has hurt many, many fire
departments throughout the country.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you. Chief Cash.
Mr. Cash. We experienced the same problems as Chief Quill,
not only in the Fire Service, but in our police agencies as
well as our paramedic service. Several people serving in the
National Guard were called up, and we were without those
individuals during that time period.
Chairman Boehlert. Well, I see my red light is on, and I am
going to be arbitrary on that. I am not going to give myself
any more time than anyone else, because we all have a lot of
questions, and we so appreciate all of you serving as
resources. So we will go right to Mr. Hall.
Mr. Hall. Mr. Chairman, thank you. And thank you,
It is my understanding that the Dodd Amendment puts
allocation through the States and the Boehlert Amendment goes
directly to the departments. And I guess that is something that
will be decided later. I am still--have a--my jury is out on
that, because I don't have the input from my people in Texas on
it. And I can see some danger in it going to--directly to the
fire departments, because many of you in the larger and the
major cities will have more sophistication in writing those
applications and there will be less sophistication in a rural
part of east Texas, less need, I understand. But I think we
need a lot of testimony and a lot of input to be sure that
anything that is this important, and this is a very, very
important bill to me and to the Chairman and to this committee
and to this Congress, is to do it right and to be sure that
everybody is taken care of. So I am--I remain an overall
supporter of the thrust, but still need to hear some testimony
and find some way to get to the people that I represent the
best way for them to present their needs in this thrust. And
Mr. President, I know you have interest in seeing all of them
Mr. Cash, you indicate that the new firefighters hired
under the SAFER bill would be guaranteed the right to serve as
volunteers in their off-duty hours in volunteer departments.
And I like that. I don't know what the problems are with it or
anything, but--and I don't understand why this is a problem
that needs to be addressed in this legislation, but I guess it
is. And in an abundance of caution, we are going to address it,
but it seems to make so much sense that it ought to be easily
accepted and accomplished. Give me your ideas on that.
Mr. Cash. Thank you, sir. I have several firefighters that
do fill-in work for me that are employees of the Charlotte Fire
Department, one of the larger metro fire departments. And in
some occasions, there are unions across the country that are
encouraging their people not to serve as volunteers. We feel
that that is a grave injustice. We feel that these firefighters
that work at the larger municipal departments and live in our
community, it is critical that they come back and volunteer
their time to our community.
Mr. Hall. And you recommend in your testimony that the
SAFER bill include a recruitment and retention component for
these volunteer people.
Mr. Cash. Yes, sir; that is correct.
Mr. Hall. And has anyone attempted to document what really
works best and that--how to obtain and retain?
Mr. Cash. We have done--there are studies out there, and we
have tried different trial programs in our State. Some have
worked, and some have been unsuccessful. But there are workable
programs. Firefighters usually experience a burnout period
after about four years. With the demands of their job, their
family, their church, other activities, they are finding a hard
time to be able to donate their time back to their community.
So we need----
Mr. Hall. Well, that----
Mr. Cash. We need to strengthen efforts to do recruitment
Mr. Hall. They occupy a special place in the hearts of the
people that--the areas of my District, and I thank all four of
you for your input. Thank you for your appearance here today.
It took time to get here, it took time to prepare for this, it
took time to--that you are giving us. It is through people like
you, experts that know what you are doing and who have been on
the giving end, that we write this legislation and that we pass
this legislation to make it acceptable to the people that have
to support it and support the tax funds for it. Very
worthwhile. I am honored to be a part and honored to support
this Chairman and his outstanding leadership in this arena. And
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much, Mr. Hall.
Mr. Ehlers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am obviously very supportive of improving Fire Service in
this country and everything that is related to that. But I have
one simple question I would like to have each of you address,
and that is why should the Federal Government be involved? What
can we offer that you can't do yourself? And I hope you don't
say that it is because we have more money, because we are
running a $300 billion deficit. So the--and I am very serious
about this. Why do you need our help? What can we bring to the
table that you can't do on your own, if you were able to raise
sufficient funds locally? I would like to just go down the
Mr. Shannon. Mr. Ehlers, I think that is a very valid
question. And the point has been made, and I certainly agree
with it that the primary responsibility for support for the
Fire Service should come from the local communities and from
the State. But I would also say that--and I think our Needs
Assessment Report points to the fact that the first responder
community in America today is being asked to respond to threats
that we have never experienced before, threats that are really
national threats. And I will remind you that on September 11,
2001, I know you remember, that one of the first attacks on
America by the terrorists in 2001, the results were felt in the
town of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, which is a small community
with a volunteer fire department. And so we have to ensure, as
a matter of national imperative, that our first responder
community is prepared to respond to these eventualities
wherever they might occur. And the fact of the matter is, today
that won't happen if we rely specifically on the local
communities and the States to do this.
So I think this is an urgent national matter. I think we
are at a unique time in history, and that--I think that
justifies maximum federal support for the ongoing efforts of
state and local communities.
Mr. Quill. For many years, the Fire Service was able to
handle anything that was thrown at them. We were somewhat kept
in our community. We could handle our structure fires, our
motor vehicle accidents. Our community--our world is changing
daily: it is enlarging. We have weapons of mass destruction. We
have toxic chemicals traveling our throughways, our roads, our
railroad systems. The fire departments of today no longer can
handle just their community. They are called upon to help other
communities. The city that I come from, we are 25 miles west of
Syracuse and 45 miles east of Rochester, two larger cities in
upstate New York. They were not saying that we would be called
immediately to a hazardous condition in either one of these
cities, but we have to be prepared if we were. Ithaca is just
south of us.
Our cities no longer can handle not only their hazardous
conditions or emergencies; they are called upon to help each
other out. And I--that is why I feel the Federal Government
should become involved. It is a national problem. It is not
just tied to our cities.
Mr. Cash. I would very--I am going to give you a little bit
of information, which is jurisdiction-specific for my area. I
am a small community of 5,800. The township would be about
1,400. Since 1995, my little community has lost 3,900 jobs,
which accounts for $86 million in payroll losses. As you can
see from that statistic alone, our little jurisdiction is
losing from its tax base daily. And with the onslaught of
weapons of mass destruction, hazardous material, and terrorism,
my little jurisdiction just simply does not have the funds to
fund those type of operations, yet we will be the first ones to
respond to those incidents.
Mr. McNeill. Yes, sir, Congressman Ehlers, as I mentioned,
in my remarks, firefighting and firefighter staffing has always
been a local issue, and I believe it always will be. But the
Federal Government has a role in protecting our communities.
The burden for--of preparing for terrorist attacks is
extraordinary, and it is resting squarely on the shoulders of
local government. The attacks that we experienced in September
of 2001 were attacks against New York City and the Pentagon,
but they were more attacks against the Federal Government. They
were attacks against the Government of the United States of
America. And I think that the Government of the United States
of America, the Federal Government, does have some
responsibility to help alleviate that burden that is being
placed on local governments now. And it is an extraordinary
burden, just the preparation, the additional training. And we
are running short. The economic downturn is hurting us now, but
even without that, many fire departments just don't have the
staff to handle the potential of the terrorist attacks that we
face. This is not without precedent.
Obviously, it--we have mentioned the COPS Program. But I
think--when I was a young firefighter in the City of Denver,
the CETA Program, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act
was in progress. That helped hire some firefighters in my city
and I know other cities around the country. And some of those
people went on to experience great careers in Fire Service and
were a great value to their department.
Mr. Ehlers. Two quick comments. First of all, I recognize
that if we get into this business, the greatest danger is that
it will become the world's greatest pork barrel. And not all of
you who really deserve to get it are going to get the money,
because there are going to be people with more political clout
who bring it to their States. Secondly, if you--basing your
justification on fighting terrorism, will you be satisfied 10
years from now when we declare terrorism no longer a threat and
the Federal Government withdraws, or do you think the Federal
Government will withdraw at that point?
My time is expired, so you----
Chairman Boehlert. It is expired, and you are getting into
the ``Never-Never-Wishful-Thinking Land''. I mean----
Mr. Ehlers. Well, I----
Chairman Boehlert [continuing]. Terrorism is here
Mr. Ehlers. It is something we have to face, Mr. Chairman--
Chairman Boehlert. Yeah.
Mr. Ehlers [continuing]. And I am not asking for answers,
because my time is expired, but----
Chairman Boehlert. Well, just a couple of observations, and
I feel compelled to inject a few right now. First of all, I
want to stress that what we are proposing under the SAFER Act
will not supplant but will supplement what local governments
are doing. And secondly, as Chief Quill pointed out so well,
the world has changed rather dramatically. I am convinced that
Chief Quill and his people in Auburn, New York can take care of
Auburn's problems very ably in a professional way as they have
been doing year after year. But it is a changed world, with
hazardous materials coming and going, with the threat of
terrorism and all of that sort of thing. And so--and Chief
points out, they are strategically located between Rochester
and Syracuse and Ithaca, so a lot of things that potentially
are on a drawing board for Auburn to deal with have nothing to
do with Auburn, New York, but Auburn, New York has a lot to do
And let me stress to you that one of the reasons I wanted
to get the witnesses on record is that we intend to have the
SAFER Program run like the FIRE Grant Program, which has
avoided the ``pork barrel'' label, which has avoided the
temptation to have some political muscle flexed and have the
dollars flow in the direction of the holder of the political
muscle. This is a program of, by, and for the firefighters. And
we are going to continue it that way. But thank you very much
for your observations, Dr. Ehlers.
Mr. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. A couple of quick
questions for Mr. McNeill.
Mr. McNeill, you mentioned--or you said in your testimony
that 343 firefighters had died in the collapse of the World
Trade Center. I understand that about 60 of those were off-
duty, who saw what was going on, and simply went to the World
Trade Center to see if they could help. Is that correct?
Mr. McNeill. That is my understanding as well.
Mr. Miller. Is there any doubt in your mind that anywhere
in the United States, either professional or volunteer
firefighters would have reacted the same way?
Mr. McNeill. There is no doubt in my mind, sir.
Mr. Miller. I understand that in a lot of parts of the
United States, specifically New York City, with the heightened
terror alerts, many firefighters have had to put in very long
hours, many, many hours of overtime, 60, 70, 80 hours a week.
Is that right?
Mr. McNeill. I don't have firsthand knowledge of that, but
I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case. It is my
understanding that that happened.
Mr. Miller. Okay. One prominent Senate Member suggested
that firefighters, as an act of patriotism, should forego
overtime pay and there was--the extended hours they are
putting. First of all, do you think firefighters need to do
anything to prove their patriotism?
Mr. McNeill. No, sir; I do not.
Mr. Miller. What is your opinion of that suggestion?
Mr. McNeill. Of working back to your employer on a
Mr. Miller. Without overtime. Foregoing overtime.
Mr. McNeill. My opinion of that, sir, it is in violation of
the federal law.
Mr. Miller. Okay. Beyond a legal response to it, do you
have any sense whether that is something that firefighters
really need to do to prove their patriotism?
Mr. McNeill. No, sir; I do not.
Mr. Miller. Okay. Mr. Cash, I think the testimony here
today has been that a lot of the growth of fire departments has
been in--has been professionals, rather than volunteers. Do you
see North Carolina's fire departments moving more toward mixed
Mr. Cash. Yes, I do. That is a trend in North Carolina's
role as well as across the Nation. For example, a lot of
departments in my county are now beginning to hire one daytime
firefighter to be responsible for administration, taking care
of the apparatus, and doing report routings, plus to help
respond that piece of equipment to the scene and be assured
that that piece of equipment arrives on the scene quickly and
Mr. Miller. Okay. How does this legislation effect that
transition to mixed departments?
Mr. Cash. We think it would enhance and augment this
program, especially if it is run through, like the Chairman has
mentioned on several occasions, through the same type of
procedure as the FIRE Act, which would assure some equality
across the Nation from volunteers to career departments.
Mr. Miller. Okay. And just one more question, Mr. Cash. The
60 New York firefighters who were off-duty and went to the
fire--to the World Trade Center when they saw what was
happening and simply went to help, do you have any doubt that
firefighters, professional or volunteer, would have responded
the same way anywhere in the United States?
Mr. Cash. It is our calling, Congressman. And we are going
to go wherever help is needed.
Mr. Miller. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much. Distinguished Vice
Chairman of the Full Committee, Mr. Gutknecht.
Mr. Gutknecht. Mr. Chairman, all of the questions that I
was going to ask have already been asked, so I will yield my
time to someone else.
Chairman Boehlert. Well, next in line is Mr. Bonner.
Mr. Bonner. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would just like to
ask Chief Cash a question, since he is from the South, and he
is from a town that is similar to some of the communities that
I represent in South Alabama.
SAFER would provide funds to hire additional career
firefighters, which are badly needed in my District in a town
like Mobile, which is the largest metropolitan center. But in
some of the smaller communities, such as the one that you come
from, do you believe this legislation would provide additional
assistance to the rural volunteer communities, and if so, what
would this legislation do, in your view, to retain volunteer
firefighters once they were recruited?
Mr. Cash. We think it is critical that the legislation
include the package or the conditions about recruitment and
retention. That is a problem all across America, not only in
North Carolina, but I am sure it is in Alabama. And the bill,
if tracked similar to the FIRE Act that the Chairman has
referred to and as I have referred to a couple times, if it
would follow that process, we feel like it would be equitable
across the board. And it would benefit the smaller rural fire
departments in Alabama as well.
Mr. Bonner. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Boehlert. Anything else?
Mr. Davis. I, too, agree most of the questions that need to
be asked have probably already been asked, but I want to
compliment those who are full-time as well as volunteer
firefighters in our State. I live in Tennessee, and I live in a
small community. And my fire department is about eight miles
from my home. It is a volunteer fire department with no paid
professionals. And most of the 14 fire departments in my county
are volunteer fire departments. I served once as Mayor of a
small town called Byrdstown. It is the smallest county in
Tennessee. We had a couple of fires downtown, and the volunteer
fire department, no paid professionals at that City Hall at
that time in the late '70's. We, as a result of those fires,
devastating fires to a restaurant and some of the business
people there in town, actually started training young
individuals, who became part of a youth fire department. One of
those individuals, at the age of 18, was driving a truck one
night that--a tanker that overturned and lost his life. So the
volunteers in our organizations across this Nation, and
certainly in the small rural areas that I represent, play a
major part in fire protection. And do you feel that the
dollars--the funding that is being provided provides adequate
training to where--that our volunteer fire departments, as well
as professional fire departments, will receive adequate
training and this funding will help with that? Mr. Cash.
Mr. Cash. I am sorry. Yes, we feel like it would. But the
FIRE Act Grant, which you passed several years ago, which is
now in place, provided for training for fire departments to be
able to apply for that grant money and utilize those monies for
Mr. Davis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back the rest
of my time.
Mr. Smith of Michigan [presiding]. Mr. Udall.
Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to also extend
my thanks to the Panel and--for your testimony today. It has
been very helpful to all of us on the Committee. I wanted to
also particularly thank Mike for making the long trip out from
And I want to start with, Mike, you. You mentioned in your
testimony the reductions in Denver, per se. And I was curious
if you are seeing similar kinds of reductions around the
Colorado area and the other areas that you oversee in your--
with your responsibilities.
Mr. McNeill. There are similar reductions, Congressman. I
think, at this point, most of them, if not all of them, are
caused by the economic downturn. We have seen reductions of
staff over the last year in Portland, Oregon, Gresham, Oregon.
We have seen it--we see it coming in Boulder, Colorado in your
District, which is a--they are going to lose 75--or 25 percent
of their firefighters up there at the end of the month if
something isn't done. So it is not--excuse me, it is not
something that is confined to my department. It is, indeed, a
Mr. Udall. On the heels of your response, if I could throw
a question out to the entire Panel and ask each one of you to
comment briefly. As we have heard today, some people object to
the idea of federal help to the States and cities, because they
view the States' current budget problems as being caused by
overspending in the past. Do you think that the staffing cuts
that you have all described today were caused by bad decisions
in the past or do you see other reasons at work here?
Mr. McNeill. I see other things at work here. Maybe the
decisions could have been better in the past, but I think, by
and large, the people that have been elected to run the cities
and towns and the fire districts in this country are doing the
best job they can. They have to spread a finite number of
dollars across a number of services. To prioritize one service
before or ahead of another, to prioritize public safety in
front of social services is a tough thing for some people to
do, but that is what is happening right now.
Mr. Udall. Um-hum.
Mr. McNeill. That is--and that is part of the problem. I
think the problem in Boulder, Colorado was caused by a
reluctancy of the electorate there to re-up on a sales tax.
Mr. Udall. Right.
Mr. McNeill. And they decided not to do that. So there was
25 percent of their budget gone. So they are going to lose 25
percent of their force. Tough decisions have been made, and
they will have to be made. But I don't think the decisions in
the past have been poor.
Mr. Udall. Um-hum.
Mr. McNeill. I don't think they have been ill informed. I
think they have been made with the best interest of the people
of the community at heart.
Mr. Udall. So you would place a lot of the reason for this
situation on the downturn in sales tax revenues and just the
economy that is languishing right now?
Mr. McNeill. That and the fact that there is an additional
burden placed on the Fire Service because of the terrorist
Mr. Udall. Exactly. The vector is going two different
directions. Yeah, as you mentioned, Mike, in your testimony, $1
billion a year, although a very significant amount of money in
the overall context of the request for homeland security, and
given the front line responsibility of the firefighting
community, it would make--it is a--not a minimal amount. But it
is an amount that would seem to be able to be fit into those
Mr. McNeill. We would certainly hope for at least that, and
in the future, maybe more----
Mr. Udall. Yeah.
Mr. McNeill [continuing]. Depending on how things progress
in the future.
Mr. Udall. Yeah.
Mr. McNeill. But given the overall importance and the
impact that the funds would have on the security of the
communities in the United States, I don't think that is--you
know, I think that is a good starting point. I don't think that
Mr. Udall. Yeah.
Mr. McNeill [continuing]. An ending point.
Mr. Udall. Would anybody else in the Panel like to respond
to that question? Chief.
Mr. Cash. I would like to make a statement concerning that,
and I agree with Mr. McNeill. Mostly in my community, the
emphasis would be on the downturn in the economy as well as the
job loss and the shrinking tax base.
Mr. Udall. Um-hum. Chief Quill.
Mr. Quill. I would have to agree with both other gentlemen.
The economic downturn, hindsight is 20/20 looking back at some
decisions that were made. If we had a second chance, I think
other decisions would be made. There is just so much--there is
so much money in the pot, and it has to go many different
directions, so I would have to agree with them.
Mr. Udall. Congressman, Attorney General, what else? Mr.
Mr. Shannon. I really think the principle problem that this
legislation is seeking to attack is the increased demand that
has been put on the fire departments. I can't tell you how many
times since September 11, 2001 I have been with Fire Service
personnel from around the country, big communities and small,
career and volunteer fire departments, where their beepers go
off and they are being called to deal with some planning effort
for homeland security. And they are putting an enormous amount
of time and effort and resource into this. I mean, there is an
economic downturn, but even without the economic downturn, we
have got to face the fact that we are asking these fire
departments to do a lot more than they have ever had to do
before. And not only are we asking them to do it, we are saying
it is an urgent national priority----
Mr. Udall. Yeah.
Mr. Shannon [continuing]. To do it. And that is what this
legislation is all about: giving them at least some of the
resources necessary to do the job we have told them the country
needs them to do.
Mr. Udall. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr.
Chairman Boehlert. Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith of Michigan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Cash, in your testimony, you indicated that SAFER might
be improved by doing something for volunteers. Help me explore
some of the greatest needs for volunteers in terms of
retention. For the start of all, what would--give me your
opinion on what is the greater problem right now: getting
volunteers in or retaining them?
Mr. Cash. Congressman, I think it is both. We have a
problem with recruitment, and I think an answer to that would
be at the State level and especially at the National level, a
recruiting promotional type of event to take place. Monies be
set aside to do a National or State level recruiting program.
And on the retention side, we have offered several suggestions
such as educational reimbursements for firefighters, special
housing programs for firefighters, tax breaks for firefighters.
There are all kinds of concepts and ideas that we have kicked
Mr. Smith of Michigan. Now in terms of recruitment, what
would be some of the major things? And I guess I don't even
know whether it is somewhat universal with volunteer fire
departments and combination departments that volunteers don't
get--sometimes don't get reimbursed for lost wages or
sometimes, in our area, in Michigan, they take vacation time to
go to training. Is that somewhat universal or----
Mr. Cash. It is in my State, and in the Southeast United
States. The firefighters are faced with--unable to leave their
work, and maybe some type of program that would allow employers
to be reimbursed when those firefighting employees are away
from their normal job doing training for the local volunteer
Mr. Smith of Michigan. And so do--does that mean that you
would suggest that we include that kind of an option in with
the funding that we might offer for volunteers as the Defense
Authorization Bill goes through that they might have some
allowance to use some of that money for reimbursements while
they are going to training, or you suggested education in your
testimony, education credits, and I--my impression was that was
for higher education?
Mr. Cash. That is correct.
Mr. Smith of Michigan. What are some of the other thoughts
of any of the Panel that we might have to entice volunteers?
And of course, nationally, we put more and more requirements on
those volunteers and more and more training requirements to the
point where in the recruitment effort, if some of those are
modified in some ways so that there is not so much individual
sacrifice on families. So Mr. Shannon, maybe go down the line.
How do we strengthen the effort for volunteers while we are
strengthening the employment for full-time?
Mr. Shannon. I think I would yield to what the Chief has
had to say. I mean, we feel very, very strongly that this
recruitment issue has to be addressed, both among career and
volunteer fire departments. And I think this bill goes a long
way toward doing that. I think that the--you know, it is
primarily, at this point, a question of the necessary--you
know, the necessary resources. And if we can make those
resources available and make sure the people are adequately
trained and that they are going to be able to do the job in a
safe fashion, I think that the volunteer spirit in this country
is such that we will have adequate numbers in our volunteer
Mr. Smith of Michigan. Mr. Quill, any thoughts?
Mr. Quill. Really no thoughts. I am not an expert in the
volunteer Fire Service other than they do a terrific job, and
we are very proud of them. Chief Cash is a--and Mr. Shannon
have both answered the question. I feel--I would have to tend
to agree with them.
Mr. Smith of Michigan. Mr. McNeill.
Mr. McNeill. I don't think I have much to add to what has
already been said. I know that finding inherently qualified
people to serve in the Nation's Fire Service is a difficult job
in the career service on that side of it. I know it must be
very difficult on the volunteer side. I applaud what the
volunteer service does, and I think that Chief Cash is on the
money there as far as what should be done and what can be done.
Mr. Smith of Michigan. I mean, just such a huge--if we lose
our volunteers--we are looking at 80 percent of our
firefighters now being volunteers. If we lose those volunteers,
a tremendous cost to local governments if they can no longer
have volunteers to help cover their fire stations. So somehow,
we have got to deal with it. And of course, in some--many
communities across America, instead of that hometown where you
have got the cobbler and the barber shop and local stores, now
people are working outside of those communities. So it is more
and more difficult to get somebody right in town that is close
to the station to hop on and go fight a fire. So as--we will
explore these challenges, but I hope you all agree that, along
with SAFER, we need to encourage the volunteer effort.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Boehlert. Sheila Jackson Lee, please.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and
thank you for holding this hearing. None of us in this room
have ever doubted the importance of fire personnel in our
respective communities. But not wishing to be redundant, but
let me say that certainly 9/11 has heightened our ability to
pronounce the question or be able to say ``thank you'' and to
be able to say how important first responders have always been
in our community.
I recall right after 9/11, I went home to my community and
held a meeting, particularly with firefighters from around the
county. And they were at a heightened alert, because at that
time, everyone was calling on them. Shortly after 9/11, of
course, came the anthrax scare. And in my community in Houston,
they must have had about 100 calls. Thank goodness, probably
not one was that particular element: baby powder and other type
substances. But it did not diminish the responsibility of
firefighters to go out to the scene to calm the individuals,
to, if you will, cordon off the scene and to provide the
insight and the direction that was necessary.
I think this legislation is very important, and I have a
number of questions and concerns, and I look forward, as a
supporter of this legislation, to seeing it move, if you will,
as quickly as it possibly can. But I--Mr. Shannon, I would be
interested in hearing what your thoughts are on the
modification that is now in the amendment that the Senator has
offered where the monies go directly, as I understand it. I am
not sure if there has been a consensus to offer an additional
amendment, but it goes directly to State and local governments
and not to the agency that we had original drafted it.
I would also be interested, if you would, tell me about the
importance of overtime, also, in stretching, if you will,
overworked firefighters. I know their time frame is certain
days on and certain days off, but what is happening with
overtime in our communities in terms of extending the time that
firefighters are serving?
Mr. Shannon. I don't have any data on overtime use, Ms.
Lee. Sometimes, of course, in the fire services, we know, and I
think New York, after September 11, was a very good example of
that, overtime in the Fire Service is inevitable. And----
Ms. Jackson Lee. And very important?
Mr. Shannon. I think----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Compensated overtime?
Mr. Shannon. I think that it is extremely important. And I
think it is extremely important that we treat all of our
firefighters well. I think that one of the issues that has to
do with overtime is the fact that so many fire departments have
had to be short-staffed now. That is going to increase overtime
costs and put more firefighters' lives at risk, and that is one
of the problems that this legislation seeks to address.
The Chairman asked earlier on the question of the mechanism
by which the funding gets to the fire departments. First of
all, I want to say that I think it is vital that it--that the
money start to flow. However this legislation can be resolved
in conference, I think it is vital that this money begin to
flow. And I expressed my position earlier that the more direct
route to the fire departments is the better route. And I think
that the FIRE Grant Program has proven to be very successful in
that regard. And so I would say that direct funding to the fire
departments is probably the best way to ensure that the help is
going to get where we need it as quickly as we need it.
Ms. Jackson Lee. That is very interesting. That is
insightful to those of us who are looking at the legislation.
Let me pose two questions, and then if all of you would take a
stab. I think one of them is directly toward Mr. Quill. And let
me say that I am a big supporter. I come from a large city,
fourth largest city in the Nation, and we do have fire staffing
issues that I would like to see remedied by this particular
funding. And I understand that this includes rural and urban
centers, which is very important, and also helps volunteer
operations as well. My interest is that, we understand, from
Mr. Shannon's testimony, that 233,000 firefighters, 21 percent
of the total, lack formal training in structural firefighting.
More than 10,000 fire pump trucks in service are more than 30
years old. And 57,000 firefighters have no personal protective
clothing. With respect to Mr. Quill, we understand that you
had, in the '70's, as you have indicated, '96 you are down to
17, that your personal costs have cost 92 percent. I want to be
sure that we help those who will have to have a matching
amount. If you can share with me how you believe that you will
be able to meet the matching.
And then with respect to my other questions, from Mr.
Shannon's testimony, others may want to answer it, are we doing
the right thing when we need formal training? Are we getting
these additional firefighters? What are we doing to improve
safety on the other aspects with the old trucks, not enough
training, etcetera? How are we balancing those needs?
Mr. Quill. Could I ask you for your question again?
Ms. Jackson Lee. Yeah, Mr. Quill. You can just go to the
one about the smaller entities trying to be able to have their
Mr. Quill. That would have to--when the individual
municipalities apply for this grant, they will have to be sure
that they are capable, ready, willing, and able to meet the
matching funds, so that they can comply with it. If the City of
Auburn were to apply for these funds, it would most certainly
have to talk with the City Government to be sure that they are
going to meet the matching funds. If we can't do that, there is
no use going through all the paperwork and possibly holding off
someone else's grant--be receiving the funding. And I am not
sure I am asking you--answering your question.
Chairman Boehlert. Chief, then wouldn't it be very similar
to the COPS Program, Ms. Jackson Lee----
Ms. Jackson Lee. Right.
Chairman Boehlert [continuing]. As you know, with the local
requirement? I understand the question, and it is a very good
Ms. Jackson Lee. Yeah, I just want--and I--and you have
answered it. I guess what you are saying is that the local
community needs to make a commitment, and you would see the
desire to make that commitment on that match?
Mr. Quill. That is correct.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Mr. Chairman, could you indulge me so Mr.
Shannon could just answer the question about balancing these
other needs with these--the hiring dollars that we are going to
be giving you?
Mr. Shannon. I think that that is also a very important
point that as--the hiring dollars are crucial, because there is
a gap now in personnel in the Fire Service. But we shouldn't
believe that once that problem is solved that the big problem
is solved, because as the Needs Assessment that you referred
to, Ms. Jackson Lee, points out that there are problems with
training, there are problems with equipment, with protective
clothing. These are all going to take dollars as well. And
hopefully, with an upturn in the economy, more of those dollars
are going to be able to come from local governments and from
States, but even after the personnel issue is resolved, there
is going to be a need to address these other concerns as well.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much.
Ms. Jackson Lee. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank
Chairman Boehlert. Dr. Burgess.
Dr. Burgess. Yes. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am going to
ask a question that may be so basic that you wonder why I ask
it, but help me understand the concept. We have got the FIRE
Grants that FEMA is administering and I appreciate those. I
have actually been a participant in handing some of those out
in my district. But why have those FIRE Grants that FEMA is
administering not been able to free up the funding for local
staffing? And are we going to further that problem with what we
are talking about today?
Mr. Quill. The cost of the equipment for the Fire Service,
once is--once it is found out that the equipment will be used
for Fire Service--for firefighting, the price just becomes
astronomical. It is just unbelievable. The Fire Service is so
far behind the times in many areas, with their tools and
equipment, that they--as it was said earlier here today, there
are many departments without personnel protective equipment,
the basic coat, helmet, boots that firefighters need to wear.
We have to catch up to that. We have to bring everyone up to
somewhat of a level playing field with the money that is put
aside in the FIRE Grants for this equipment. It seems like we
are starting to get near that point. We are at a basic level.
Now the staffing is very crucial, but first of all, we have to
have the tools to work with.
Dr. Burgess. Do you feel that there is a diversion of local
funds because of the FEMA Grant coming in and purchasing the
basic technology and the basic equipment?
Mr. Quill. I don't believe I could answer that properly at
Dr. Burgess. I guess the question is are we hurting
ourselves by doing this?
Mr. Shannon. Mr. Burgess, if I can, and I am sorry I don't
have the report with me, but I will get it to you after this
hearing, if that is all right. But if you look at the needs
that--and the Needs Assessment, the FEMA Report that NFPA was
involved with, the--I don't think there is any fear at all, if
that is the concern, that federal money will give an
opportunity for states and local government to pull back on the
supports for the fire--support for the fire department. The
needs are enormous for protective clothing, for training, for
new equipment for past devices. Mr. Boehlert, oh, it has been--
I think it has been submitted. And if you look at that, you
will see that there is--I don't think there is any fear or
should be any concern that this money is going to supplant
local funding for the fire departments. The needs far outstrip
what will be available, even with this legislation.
Chairman Boehlert. Dr. Burgess, let me point out that we
have all been given a copy of the Needs Assessment, and I would
suggest you might give it a glance. It is very valuable
Any further questions, Dr. Burgess?
Dr. Burgess. [No response]
Chairman Boehlert. Mr. Bishop.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you. Actually, my colleague here from
Texas asked several of the questions that I already had there,
as well. If you would just be kind enough to reassure me in
some way before we start moving forward on this particular
bill. The first one is there have been programs in the past,
like COPS, where the federal funding has gone in there, and as
soon as the grants have been taken away at some time in the
future, the money to keep those men on staff has withdrawn as
well. Is there any kind of guarantee that we have that the same
thing will not happen in this particular area?
And the second reassurance I would desperately need at some
time, is sometimes we, in the Federal Government, have had the
tendency of doing programs that were high on symbolism but low
on reality, especially several years ago we decided to come up
with a whole new program to put new teachers into the
classrooms. And the amount of money and the amount of teachers
would equal, like, 1/4 of a teacher per school district. Can
you guarantee me, reassure me, that if we actually move forward
in this program it is going to make a difference in all
departments, or is this going to be--have to be a shotgun
approach, a scatter gun approach? Are you going to have to
zero-in in some particular way? What kind of assurances are we
going to have that we are actually going to make a difference
down on the local levels?
Mr. Shannon. I--Mr. Bishop, if I might say, I certainly
understand your question. I used to have the same concerns
about funding programs when I was a Member of the House of
Representatives and want to make sure that the money isn't
just, you know, being sent scatter-shot and not being used
appropriately. All I can tell you in response to your question
is that, you know, I personally, and our organization, deals
with fire departments all across the country. These are very
real needs, and they are immediate needs. And they will save
lives. Additional dollars put into staffing of fire departments
will have an immediate payback in lives. And there was some
specific reference to fires that have taken place where it is
pretty clearly documented that the staffing gaps in particular
communities resulted in the loss of firefighter lives and in
civilian lives. So I don't think that there is--there should be
any concern that this money isn't going to be useful and isn't
going to be very useful to communities that meet--that have
real needs. And there is going to need to be more of a--support
come from the local level, no question about that, and more
support coming from the state level. But I think that the
Federal Government assistance, at this point, can really help
jump-start that effort.
Mr. Bishop. Are you focusing specifically an effort to try
and help all departments everywhere or are you going to try and
focus the money to make a maximum impact in certain areas?
Mr. Shannon. It is going to be a grant program, and
communities are going to apply for the money, and they are
going to have to justify that.
Mr. Bishop. But the goal is to focus the money?
Mr. Shannon. Yes.
Mr. Bishop. Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman Boehlert. Thank you very much, Mr. Bishop, and
thank you, all of you, but particularly our two Chiefs, because
every single day, you and your teams are on the firing line
protecting our homes, our communities, and our nation. And we
deeply appreciate it. We want to commit to you that this
committee, Republican and Democrat alike, is determined to
follow through to get the resources you need to do the job we
expect you to do. And we are not going to let up, and we are
going to be unrelenting. We have got the federal grant program
going, and it is working exceptionally well, no pork barrel, no
political intrigue, just of, by, and for the fire services. And
that is the way it should be. That is going to continue. And we
are going to try our darnedest to get you some relief on the
staffing problem. But it is not going to be a blank check from
Washington, as you recognize. It is going to be a shared
responsibility, but we are going to do--try to do our share.
So I want to thank all of you for being resources.
Congressman Shannon, it is always good to see you again back
home. And Mr. McNeill, thank you and your team for what you are
doing so well.
This hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12 p.m., the Committee proceeded to other
Additional Material for the Record
STATEMENT CONCERNING H.R. 1118
SUBMITTED ON BEHALF OF THE ``TWO-HATTERS COALITION''
By Adele L. Abrams, Esq., Law Office of Adele L. Abrams, P.C., 4740
Corridor Place, Suite D, Beltsville, MD 20705; 301-595-3520;
CHAIRMAN BOEHLERT AND MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE:
This statement is being submitted for the record following the June
4, 2003, hearing on H.R. 1118, the ``Staffing for Adequate Fire and
Emergency Response (SAFER) Act of 2003'' on behalf of the ``Two-Hatters
Coalition'' (``THC'' or ``Coalition''). The THC is a group of men and
women who are paid union firefighters in their full-time jobs, and who
volunteer as unpaid firefighters in their local communities during
their days off from work. The members of the Coalition provide critical
emergency services at a time when local fire departments and paramedic
teams are vastly underfunded. Therefore, we applaud this committee for
investigating this issue and considering the aforementioned
As Congress looks for solutions to the crisis in emergency
response, we wish to point out current developments that serve only to
exacerbate this problem. In certain areas including, but not limited
to, the Washington, DC metropolitan area, these ``Two-Hatters'' are
being brought up on charges by their unions because of their unpaid
volunteer activities at local volunteer fire departments (``VFDs'').
These Two-Hatters are facing trial board charges in Washington, DC,
Arlington, VA, Montgomery County, MD, and other jurisdictions. These
Two-Hatters face expulsion from the union unless they agree to cease
their volunteer firefighter activities. The International Association
of Firefighters, and some of its locals, has deemed volunteer fire
departments to be ``rival'' labor organizations. As the IAFF noted, in
correspondence to its members on this issue:
The IAFF Constitution makes it clear that IAFF members can be
subject to charges and internal discipline if they serve as
volunteers. . .all too often, jurisdictions rely upon the
services of volunteers to undermine the efforts of our own
members to obtain the resources necessary to support a properly
staffed and adequately equipped full time career fire
department. As a union representing the interests of paid
professional fire fighters, we can and must promote the
interests of our members by strongly advocating career fire
departments across North America.\1\
\1\ September 20, 2002, letter to IAFF Affiliate Presidents from
Harold A. Schaitberger IAFF General President.
There are economic consequences for the Two-Hatters, regardless of
whether they opt to ``walk the plank'' by leaving the union or
resigning as volunteer firefighters. But, more critically, there are
public safety consequences arising from this attempt to deplete the
ranks of volunteer fire departments in order to protect union
Local communities depend heavily on volunteer firefighters, and can
ill-afford to create paid firefighter positions to replace those Two-
Hatters who may be forced to withdraw from participation in these VFDs.
Some of the Two-Hatters now being brought before trial boards are the
same individuals who were involved in rescue operations at the Pentagon
and who, as volunteers, provide emergency support to departments in
Prince George's County, MD,\2\ that serve as backup for emergencies on
Capitol Hill and the federal agencies in Washington. Following the
September 11, 2001, events at the World Trade Center, hundreds of
volunteer firefighters and volunteer fire chiefs worked alongside of
and supported career firefighters in New York City. It is incredible
that these same individuals are now being viewed as ``the enemy'' by
their own unions simply because of their volunteer activities.
\2\ About 200 volunteer firefighters in Prince George's County, MD,
are ``Two-Hatters'' and, therefore, the ranks would be depleted by this
number of individuals if the firefighter union is successful in forcing
out these individuals under threat of financial sanctions and/or union
Today, nearly 50 percent of some VFDs' firefighters are ``Two-
Hatters'' and in most cases, these volunteers serve the VFDs during key
evening and weekend shifts, while paid firefighters work a more regular
weekday schedule. These volunteers are extremely skilled, well-trained
and physically fit.\3\ How quickly such VFDs could find and train
comparable replacement volunteers who are not career firefighters and
who are willing and available to work these less-desirable shifts (much
less find the revenue to fund such positions) is unknown. But, given
our current state of alert, it is not a risk worth taking for our
communities. A selection of recent news reports on this issue is
attached to this statement and we ask that these be included in the
Congressional record concerning H.R. 1118.
\3\ The resume of John Gorman, one of the ``Two-Hatters'' who is
current faced with union trial board charges because of his volunteer
firefighter activities, is attached as an illustration of the
qualifications that will be lost to our communities if such
discrimination against Two-Hatters is permitted to continue. See
Action to prohibit continuation of volunteer services by Two-
Hatters is also occurring elsewhere in the United States because the
International Association of Firefighters is condoning such action. The
rationale is that if these ``two hatters'' are forced to stop
volunteering, more ``paid'' positions will be created by the counties
and municipalities. To fund that, there will be an increase in taxes to
pay for the newly hired firemen and emergency medical staff. But the
harsh truth is that there is no money to create new paid positions.
Thus, the end result will be a reduction in force at volunteer
departments and a diminution of public safety and ability to respond to
As was noted in a recent Bowie (MD) Blade editorial: ``It is beyond
comprehension why the International Association of Fire Fighters would
severely penalize a member of its union for unselfishly volunteering
his services, during his off-work hours from a fire department in
Virginia, to the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department. This draconian action
by the national firefighters union also lays the groundwork for
substantial damage to local firefighter organizations.'' \4\
\4\ Bowie Blade editorial, March 27, 2003.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs has estimated that
two-thirds of American fire departments do not meet minimum staffing
requirements. We agree. The IAFC has noted that 75,000 new firefighters
are needed to bring these departments into compliance. We agree. But
Congress must recognize that municipal governments simply do not have
the resources to fund 75,000 new paid firefighter positions, even with
the additional funding anticipated in this legislation. We respectfully
suggest that the United States needs more, not fewer, volunteers to
maximize our homeland security efforts. The discrimination in
employment against individuals simply because they elect to answer
President Bush's call to serve their country as volunteers must end.
The IAFF's war on volunteer firefighters also impermissibly
interferes with these union members' First Amendment rights of Freedom
of Association and should be deemed unconstitutional. Whatever their
full-time job, no one should be adversely treated on-the-job or face
financial penalties because they choose to volunteer their services in
protection of their community.
As a solution to this issue, and in support of strengthening
emergency response teams, we propose that the following underscored
language be added to Section 34(a)(1) of 15 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.,\5\ to
ensure that persons who volunteer as emergency service providers will
not be subject to adverse employment action as a consequence of their
\5\ As amended by Section 2 of H.R. 1118, page 2, lines 2-9.
The Administrator shall make grants directly to career,
volunteer, and combination fire departments_provided that such
departments and/or their unions do not discriminate in
employment or take adverse action against an individual because
of the individual's activities as a volunteer firefighter_in
consultation with the chief executive of the State in which the
applicant is located, for the purpose of increasing the number
of firefighters to help communities meet industry minimum
standards to provide adequate protection from fire and fire-
related hazards, including acts of terrorism.
We believe that adoption of this language will help to effectuate
the legislative goal of increasing the number of firefighters to help
communities meet industry minimum standards and will advance the cause
of providing adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards,
including acts of terrorism. More information can be found on our
group's website, http://www.twohatters.org/. Thank you for your
consideration of our concerns.