Homeland Security/National Fire Academy
By DAVID DISHNEAU
Associated Press Writer
EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP) - Government spending to combat terrorism
also makes hometowns safer from everyday catastrophes, Homeland
Security Secretary Tom Ridge said Thursday in a speech to emergency
When the government spends more on firefighter education and
hardware, "they're better trained and better equipped to do what
they have done for hundreds of years, and that's help people in
peril on a daily basis," Ridge told about 300 faculty members and
students at the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg.
Ridge visited the mountaintop campus and its National Fallen
Firefighters Monument one day after his agency announced it has
made more than $4.4 billion dollars in grant funding available
since March 1, much of it earmarked for firefighters and other
Ridge has been trying to counter criticism that the federal
government isn't funding security improvements it has mandated
around the country.
In addition, some cities, including New York, complained earlier
this year that big municipalities were getting less anti-terrorism
money per capita than small towns. Those complaints prompted Ridge
to order changes in the way the government distributes federal aid.
In his remarks Thursday, Ridge said increased spending on
training helps every community.
"The more we train and the more we practice, the better we get
at responding to real-life crises," he said.
The grant funding since March 1 includes $2 billion for
equipment, training, planning and exercise. It also includes $750
million in firefighter grants, up from $360 million the previous
The National Fire Academy, a part of the National Emergency
Training Center, had to fight in April for restoration of training
funds the Bush administration had cut as part of an
across-the-board reduction at the Federal Emergency Management
Agency. The academy temporarily canceled dozens of courses, all but
two of which have been restored, academy spokesman Tom Olshanski
Ridge's visit included a wreath ceremony at the fallen
firefighters monument and a tour of the classrooms. In one
building, 28 students from around the country were deep into a
weeklong exercise simulating a catastrophic hurricane along the
The center is run by the U.S. Fire Administration, a division of
FEMA. About 16,000 students attend its on-campus resident courses
annually. It also offers off-campus courses in other states to more
than 85,000 students a year, and about 195,000 people take courses
through its Web site.
On the Net:
U.S. Fire Administration: http://www.usfa.fema.gov
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)