WASHINGTON, July 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger issued this statement today at a press conference with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) to urge passage of the Senate's Homeland Security funding bill:
"While we have waited for years to see the implementation of the 9/11 Commission report, we are still fighting to see that our communities are prepared for the next disaster and unfortunately we have been learning through the National Intelligence Estimates that al-Qaeda has increased its strength and is committed more than ever to attack our country and citizens here at home.
"This morning we learn that those that want to harm our citizens are possibly testing their ability to move elements into our airlines to assemble devices to cause catastrophic destruction.
"For the 281,000 members of the IAFF, which represents 85 percent of our nation's professional fire fighters, the importance of passing the Homeland Security Appropriation's Bill is really simple. Americans deserve to feel safe when they are at home or going to work, when our children are playing in their neighborhoods, or walking to school.
"But sadly fire fighters know that in a majority of the communities across this great nation of ours we don't have the proper equipment, training or enough personnel to make sure our emergency responders can do their jobs efficiently and respond effectively when needed.
"While this president continues to ask for hundreds of billions of dollars to send to Iraq , he is threatening to veto the Homeland Security funding bill, telling Congress to spend less to protect our people here at home. We believe that is wrong. We need to implement the 9/11 Commission Report and pass the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, which will increase funding to secure our communities and protect Americans here at home. The President needs to support Congress' efforts and sign the measure into law. That's how you protect America.
"We appreciate the efforts of Senate and House leaders and the Committee appropriators who are fighting to add significant resources to the SAFER program, which helps communities put first responders on the streets, and to the FIRE Act, which provides the training and equipment that will allow our nation's firefighters to respond effectively to the next natural disaster or terrorist attack.
"I also applaud your efforts to recognize the need to award federal resources to communities based on risk, because while we never know when Mother Nature or a terrorist will attack, we are able to judge, based on history and threat levels, where the biggest risks lie. Providing funding based on risk enables us to be best prepared where we are most likely to experience a major incident.
"Leader Reid, I want to commend you and all those supporting this measure and the implementation of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.
"This bill is a tremendous down payment on guaranteeing the security of our nation's Homeland and protecting our nation. It focuses resources where they are needed -- here in America, on Americans. Our members -- this country's fire fighters and EMS personnel - and our communities need these dollars to protect our nation and our neighborhoods here at home."
The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC , represents more than 280,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 80 percent of the nation's population. More information is available at http://www.iaff.org.
SOURCE International Association of Fire Fighters