Fire Service Needs Help On Anti-Terrorism Front

Editor's note: This column is excerpted from a letter sent to President Clinton on behalf of the Northeastern States Fire Consortium. The Northeastern States Fire Consortium (NSFC) is made up of state fire officials and fire organizations from...


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The House National Security subcommittee on military research and development held a hearing on the anti-terrorism issue in late February 1997. Oklahoma City Fire Chief Gary Marrs told the subcommittee that, two years after a bomb explosion at the Federal Building in his city killed 168 people, "We're not any more prepared than we were then." Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA), the subcommittee's chairman and founder of the Congressional Fire Services Institute, said, "The first responder is not always going to be the Marines. We've got to take the technology that is in the military and put it in every city in America." He added, 'The local fire department, which is usually a bunch of volunteers, can't afford this they're out there raising money by holding chicken dinners." And California Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the panel, said, "We need to develop dual-use technology to respond not only to military threats but to domestic ones."


Thomas M. Kennedy is an FDNY battalion chief and a member of the Northeastern States Fire Consortium.