Firefighters: National Preparedness Must Focus on All Hazards

Harold Schaitberger, general president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, says it will take "ongoing diligence to prevent, deter and prepare to respond to another terrorist attack, as well as continuous coordination and effort" from all levels of the government.

Schaitberger, speaking after the release of a report from the 9/11 Public Discourse Project that gave the government poor grades for following recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, said the 9/11 Commission rightly recognized the need for and called on the government to provide additional resources to fire fighters and other first responders so they can perform their jobs effectively in response to a terrorist attack.

"It's time now for politicians, policy wonks and bureaucrats to recognize that first responders – the people this nation counts on in a time of disaster – need to be prepared to respond to all hazards if we are going to truly secure our homeland. As the recent hurricanes showed, Mother Nature is as big a threat to our nation as terrorism, and our country must prepare better to respond to our citizens in her wake.

He said that in order to be properly equipped to respond no matter the circumstances, fire fighters across this country need more staffing, more equipment, more training, better communications and more federal resources allocated and put into place.

"Implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission are critical," said Schaitberger. "But we are calling on Congress and the Bush administration to add to those recommendations the lessons learned from Katrina, Rita and Wilma, so our nation is as prepared as possible for the next event that comes our way, whether it's man-made, accidental, intentional or a natural disaster once again."

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