IAFC recommends a strategy for mitigating and recovering from disaster

Published:  04 May, 2017

IAFC President and Fire Chief John Sinclair has advised Congress to adopt a comprehensive national strategy to deal and mitigate with disasters and major incidents in the US.

Fire Chief John Sinclair is the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) president and chairman of the board and he has said that the organisation is concerned about the increasing number of disasters and the increasing costs of these.

Chief Sinclair testified during a Congressional hearing on mitigating damage and recovering from disasters. He said there's a need to develop a comprehensive national strategy for addressing the problem.  

Sinclair testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, chaired by Rep  Louis J Barletta (R-Pa).

‘Every disaster starts at the local level,’ Sinclair commented. ‘The local fire department usually is the first agency to respond on-scene during an incident and the last to leave. It is an all-hazards response force that must be prepared to respond to a variety of missions.

‘The IAFC is concerned by the increasing number of disasters in the United States. Between 1960 and 1969, the average number of disaster declarations was approximately 19 per year. Between 2010 and 2014, this number skyrocketed to 67 incidents per year, with a record 99 major disaster declarations in 2011.

‘In addition, the costs of these disasters are increasing. Between 2009 and 2012, the average annual cost of federal wildland fire-suppression operations was $1.25 billion. For the following four years, the average annual cost increased by 32% to $1.84 billion.

‘The nation must develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing this problem. The strategy must highlight the importance of investing in pre-disaster mitigation; ensuring an effective emergency response, and authorising critical post-disaster mitigation,’ commented Chief Sinclair.

Chief Sinclair discussed the importance of Congress to pass legislation this year to re-authorise funding for the AFG and SAFER Grant programs which are authorised through the end of the fiscal year 2017. Chief Sinclair also said that the IAFC is concerned about the sunset provision in each program’s authorising statute, which would eliminate the programs in early January.

‘We ask Congress to remove this sunset date to ensure that the programs can continue to support America’s fire and EMS departments.’ He also emphasised the importance of Congress to pass legislation to re-authorise funding for the US Fire Administration and the National Fire Academy (NFA) to ensure that the NFA remains the nation’s premier fire and EMS educational institution.

Sinclair testified alongside R. David Paulison, former FEMA administrator and IAFC president.

Read Sinclair’s full written testimony.  

Watch the subcommittee video of the hearing.

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