Investing in and Supporting the Efforts of First Responders
DATE: November 12, 2004
A dictionary definition of "hero" is one who is strong in courage and understands the nobility of their purpose. This definition has never been more true than used to describe the men and woman who daily dedicate their lives to maintain law and order and keep folks from harm's way.
America's first line of defense is the first responder community-local police, firefighters, and emergency medical professionals who are the first to respond to the scene of an emergency disaster or other dangerous situations. Properly trained and equipped, first responders have the greatest potential to save and protect lives.
America's first responders engage in one of the noblest forms of public and community service-battling difficult circumstances by protecting those in their local community. One of my priorities in Congress has been to ensure that those who protect our communities from harm, such as firefighters and other emergency personnel, have the best, safest, most up-to-date tools and resources to accomplish their life-critical missions.
We have learned from September 11, 2001 that our first responders are also the first line of defense when our country is threatened by outside forces. First responders found a new sense of duty and purpose when they were called to action on a scale like never before.
Congress and the President enacted legislation that will help ensure that first responders have the equipment and training necessary to respond to any and all emergency situations.
As a Member of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I have become more aware of the needs and challenges of our firefighters and first responders. New resources will help them serve the community better and allow them to continue to serve with confidence.
I have supported direct funding to local fire departments through the "Assistance to Firefighter's Grant Program" which many departments in the Sixth District have been able to apply for and receive. I am confident that this funding will significantly improve the safety of these courageous men and women, as well as the services which they provide to the community. In addition, the House passed the "Hometown Heroes Survivor Benefits Act" which ensures a public safety officer who suffers a fatal heart attack or stroke while on duty shall be presumed to have died in the line of duty.
We owe a great debt of gratitude not only to the forces who protect our security overseas, but also to those first responders who protect us daily at home. They recognize the commitment required to protect our neighborhoods and we need to give them the tools to do just that. We should continue to invest in and support their efforts.