Biden Praises FFs During Address to USFA Fire Prevention and Control Summit Attendees

Oct. 11, 2022
President Joe Biden was the first president since Harry Truman to address the conference.

EMMITSBURG, MD – President Joe Biden lauded America's firefighters Tuesday during a virtual address to attendees of the U.S. Fire Administrator's Summit on Fire Prevention and Control.

He is the first president since Harry Truman to speak to officials gathered to address the nation's fire problem.

" Cancer is a leading killer of firefighters. Toxic substances you’ve been exposed to as part of your job are almost certainly — certainly connected to those cancer diagnoses.  And we’re doing — we’re going to do something about it. The Cancer Moonshot is bringing together every part of our government to cut cancer death rates in half and to end cancer as we know it, including by addressing environmental and toxic exposures to prevent cancer," Biden said.

"I’m determined — I’m absolutely determined to make sure you have the gear that protects you without making you or your family sick. And I’m urging Congress to send to my desk the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act — let me say it again: the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act — which are going to help federal firefighters and their families assess critical worker compensation resources, including making sure that several forms of cancer are presumed to be caused — presumed to be caused by the firefighter’s job..." 

The president also pointed out he is aware of impact that climate change is having.

"You know, the Inflation Reduction Act enables us to take unprecedented steps to confront climate crisis, which is going to protect forest health, reduce fire risk, and supercharge our clean energy future."

Technology also is is being tapped to help keep firefighters safe. "We're using the Department of Defense’s satellite imagery to detect wildfires in their early stages so firefighters have a better chance to suppress the fires early before they can impact on local communities. And we’re working to help it — we’re working to help educate the public on basic fire safety, like preparing fire escape plans, testing smoke and carbon monoxide alarms monthly and replacing those alarms every 10 years.  This is the simple steps we can take to save lives."  

The president lamented that he couldn't attend the summit. But was quick to add he was happy to speak with fire service leades. 

"Look, on behalf of my own family and every American, I just want to close by saying again: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Fires will always be a fact of human life.  And when the worst happens, when those alarms go off, when everything and everybody you love is in danger, there’s no better sight in the world than that firefighter who’s ready to go to work. So, thank you for being who you are.  Thank you for all the heroes you represent.          

U.S. Fire Administrator Lori Moore-Merrell was ecstatic that Biden spoke to the group. She called his address historic, noting that no president since 1947 has taken the time to listen to their concerns.

 Fire service leaders briefed Homeland Security Leadership, FEMA and the Administration on the critical issues facing the fire service and our nation.”

She said the fire service needs to have a strong, single voice to bring about change.

“We gather at this National Roundtable from different organizations, but today we stand together as a unified fire service.”

While some issues may take time to resolve, some can happen immediately, she pointed out.

June 8 was a historic day this year. “That’s because June 8 was the only day that there were no known reported civilian home fire fatalities,” she said, adding that on every other day this year someone died.

“Some of these tragedies make the evening news…like the Jan. 5 fire in Philadelphia that killed 12 people, among them nine children”

But, she noted, many other fatal fires don’t make the headlines. And, she said, many were preventable.

She said that firefighters need to “do a better job to ensure that no more lives are taken by fires that could have been prevented if the codes and standards that are in place were enforced.”

About the Author

Susan Nicol | News Editor

Susan Nicol is the news editor for She is a life member and active with the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Company, Oxford Fire Company and Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. Susie has been an EMT in Maryland since 1976. Susie is vice-president of the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum. She is on the executive committee of Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She also is part of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Region II EMS Council. Susie is a board member of the American Trauma Society, Maryland Division. Prior to joining the Firehouse team, she was a staff writer for The Frederick News-Post, covering fire, law enforcement, court and legislative issues. 

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