The International Association of Fire Chiefs unveiled its legislative priorities for the years, starting with working to increase funding for the U.S. Fire Administration in FY 2019 in order to see it funded at $50 million. This increase will help USFA improve classes and training at the National Fire Academy.
IAFC will also continue to ask Congress to fund the AFG and SAFER Grant programs at the FY 2011 amount of $405 million, restore funding for the Urban Search and Rescue program and protect funding for homeland security grant programs, like the Urban Areas Security Initiative and the State Homeland Security Grant Program.
“When Congress established FirstNet, it also mandated that the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) auction public-safety spectrum in the T-Band (470-512 MHz) by February 2021. Local public-safety organizations that use T-Band spectrum would have to clear this spectrum within two years of the auction,” IAFC said. “The problem with this requirement is that it would affect communications in 11 major metro areas, including New York City, the Washington, DC area, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles. For example, the T-Band spectrum was used as the interoperable communications channel in Boston during the response to the Patriots’ Day bombing in 2013. In addition, the cost of migrating these jurisdictions would be catastrophic ($5.9 billion), even though some jurisdictions would have no other spectrum to migrate to.”
Thus, the fire chiefs association is among affected organizations asking Congress to repeal the requirement that this T-Band spectrum be auctioned.
The IAFC will also be urging the Senate to pass the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act and will urge Congress to pass the Volunteer Responder Incentive Act (H.R. 1550/S. 1238), which would exempt, from federal taxation, any property tax benefits and up to $600 in any other state and local benefits that are given to local volunteer firefighters.