Firefighters and Paramedics Join With Insurers and Others in Call for CAT Funds and Comprehensive Catastrophe Protection

WASHINGTON , Aug. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), representing more than 290,000 professional firefighters and paramedics across North America , joined and added its voice and clout to the call for state and federal laws to provide comprehensive catastrophe protection.

"The International Association of Fire Fighters is one of the most respected organizations representing first responders in the nation. The collective voice of the IAFF will be a tremendous boost to the momentum that is building for the establishment of state and national catastrophe funds," said James Lee Witt , former director of the Federal Emergency management Agency and a co-chair of

"Comprehensive and integrated catastrophe programs at the state and national levels are essential if American families are going to be protected from the devastation of massive earthquakes or sweeping hurricanes," said Harold A. Schaitberger , general president of the IAFF. "State legislators and the U.S. Congress need to move now to enact laws that improve mitigation and preparation, provide dedicated funding for first responder training and equipment, and provide a financial backstop so families can repair, rebuild and recover in the aftermath of a catastrophe," Schaitberger said.

The Homeowners Defense Act of 2007, which would create a national catastrophe program and achieve the IAFF's goals the House of Representatives in November of 2007 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The U.S. Senate has called for the establishment of a commission to study the benefits of a national catastrophe fund.

State legislation is currently being considered in states from New England to Texas and throughout the Midwest.

"Policymakers at the state and national level are all coming to recognize that six-in-ten American families live in areas that are vulnerable to devastating catastrophic events and that improving and enhancing catastrophe protection should be an urgent and pressing national priority," Witt said. was formed in 2005 and is a non-profit organization consisting of emergency management officials, first responders, disaster relief experts, insurers and others. Its members include the American Red Cross, more than 300 other organizations and businesses and more than 15,000 individuals from across the nation. is chaired by James Lee Witt , former director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and by Admiral James M. Loy , former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The International Association of Fire Fighters, headquartered in Washington, DC , represents more than 290,000 full-time professional fire fighters and paramedics who protect 85 percent of the nation's population. More than 3,100 affiliates and their members protect communities in every state in the United States and in Canada . The IAFF is one of the most active lobbying organizations in Washington ; its Political Action Committee, FIREPAC, is among the top 25 federal PACs among the more than 4,000 in the country.

In addition to city and county fire fighters and emergency medical personnel, the IAFF represents state employees, federal workers and fire and emergency medical workers employed at certain industrial facilities.

At the core of's mission is the establishment of a comprehensive, integrated national catastrophe management solution that will better prepare and protect American families, communities, consumers and the American economy from catastrophe. Among its efforts to support this mission, is working to increase public awareness and consumer education; advocate for better coordination with local, state and federal mitigation and recovery efforts, and strengthen emergency response and financial mechanisms to rebuild after a major catastrophe.

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