800 Fire Fighters March on Capitol Hill

More than 800 fire fighters attending the 23rd Annual International Association of Fire Fighters Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. descended on U.S. congressional offices on Mar. 15 to discuss legislative priorities for the 109th Congress.

A day after hearing speakers from the leadership of both political parties talk about the common ground that the IAFF has cultivated in its lobbying work, fire fighters at the conference spent the day visiting members of Congress to build support for issues important to the nation's first responders.

In his opening remarks at the conference, IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger said, "What it all comes down to is this: We aren't for liberals. We're not for conservatives. What we care about is how you stand on fire fighter issues."

The IAFF's main legislative priorities this year include stopping the push for mandatory Social Security coverage for public safety employees; increasing funding for the SAFER Act, which was passed last year to hire more fire fighters in the more than two-thirds of communities across the country that have too few; increasing homeland security funding; extending presumptive disability benefits to federal fire fighters; and winning support for the Public Safety Cooperation Act, which will promote more effective delivery of emergency services through collective bargaining.

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