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IAFC President Calls on Congress to Support Fire & EMS Departments During COVID-19 Pandemic

International Association of Fire Chiefs

Chantilly, Virginia – Today Chief Gary Ludwig, IAFC President and Chairman of the Board, asked Congress to support local fire and EMS departments as he testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

During his testimony, Chief Ludwig highlighted the importance of local fire and EMS departments to helping victims of COVID-19.

“Regardless of whether they are from career, volunteer or combination departments, fire and EMS personnel are providing aid every day to victims of COVID-19. When a person suffering from COVID-19 calls 9-1-1, fire and EMS personnel meet them in their homes, provide aid and transport them to the hospital,” said Chief Ludwig.

Chief Ludwig’s testimony highlighted the challenges that local fire departments face during the pandemic:

“We are having trouble getting critical masks, gowns, and sanitizing agents. Our firefighters were not originally considered a high priority for PPE or for testing, which led to quarantining firefighters while they awaited results. We also are concerned that we will again run into obstacles to inoculating our staff when vaccines are developed.”

Chief Ludwig called for Congress to be the “heroes in Washington D.C. to help us fight this unseen enemy” by:

  • Providing direct assistance to fire and EMS agencies through FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) programs and the HHS’s Supporting and Improving Rural EMS Needs (SIREN) grant program.
  • Making fire and EMS departments top priorities for the distribution of COVID-19 supplies, testing, and vaccines.
  • Notifying fire and EMS departments of drug shortages.
  • Supporting tax incentives for local volunteer fire and EMS personnel.
  • Repealing the auction of the public safety spectrum in the T-Band (470 MHz – 512 MHz).

Chief Ludwig also thanked Congress and the Trump Administration, especially the U.S. Fire Administration, for the assistance that already has been provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chief Ludwig’s full statement is posted on the IAFC web page.