Reduce Risks Firefighters Face (Rep. Ed Perlmutter)
Everyday, firefighters across the country put their lives on the line for the safety of others. I believe we have an obligation to provide firefighters the tools and resources they need to safely and successfully do their job. I am proud to partner with Senator Sherrod Brown to introduce the Firefighter Fatality Reduction Act of 2009, which is similar to legislation I introduced in the 110th Congress.
This bill provides a framework for every fire department to be as efficient and safe as possible and to avoid any preventable fatalities in the line of duty. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, more than 100 firefighters die in the line of duty each year, while tens of thousands more suffer from work-related injuries. We need to determine if any of these tragedies can be prevented by encouraging compliance to safety standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.
While this bill does not mandate federal oversight of local fire departments, it utilizes the resources of the federal government – specifically the Department of Homeland Security – to determine the rate of their compliance with national voluntary safety standards. This includes common sense standards on everything from staffing, training and fitness programs for fire departments in big cities and small towns across America.
Additionally, this legislation will create a task force to explore how the federal government can best promote firefighter safety standards and the barriers preventing departments from implementing these standards. This taskforce would consist of those on the frontlines who are best equipped to direct this process including firefighters, fire chiefs, trainers and other individuals with the knowledge and experience necessary for this task.
Along with Senator Brown, I am happy to gain the support of Senator Lieberman and General President of the IAFF, Harold Schaitberger. While dangerous jobs will always carry inherent risks, I believe it is our responsibility to reduce these risks as much as we possibly can through common sense legislation and teamwork. The heroes who put themselves in harm’s way for the greater good deserve nothing less.
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