Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Introduces Bill to Strengthen Emergency Response Capabilities for Oil Train Accidents

Legislative solution would categorize hazmat operations as “high priority” within its Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program

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Washington, DC, March 16, 2016 | comments
Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act) to better equip first responders to respond to oil train accidents.
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Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler introduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act) to better equip first responders to respond to oil train accidents. The FD PREP Act would direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to categorize hazmat operations, training, and equipment acquisition relating to crude oil and ethanol rail traffic as “high priority” within its Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program.

Currently, the AFG program does not consider equipment and training specifically for train derailment incidents as being high priority grant applications.  These grants are intended to provide resources for our local fire departments in order to improve the health and safety of the public and protect firefighting personnel, including volunteers and emergency medical service personnel. With this bill, these resources will be more readily available to our first responders. 

“Public safety needs to be a top priority as train traffic increases in Southwest Washington – and that starts with properly equipping our firefighters and first responders,”
said Jaime. “Let’s close the loophole in this funding program that considers rail incident response lower priority so that we’re equipped to handle hazardous materials like crude oil already being shipped through our region, and on any future rail traffic.”

"Being prepared and equipped for the various threats our community faces is one of the most important components to saving lives and property,”
said Joe Molina, Vancouver Fire Chief. “Unfortunately, the current federal funding restriction in the Assistance to Firefighter Grant program prevents Vancouver Fire Department - and communities across the country - from accessing the resources needed to prepare and respond to crude-by-rail incidents. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler's commonsense legislation will open up the program to ensure departments like ours have the capabilities to better deal with a derailment, spill or explosion. While we hope to never need the specialized HAZMAT planning, training and equipment, we can't ignore the threat that already exists today. The federal government should be a partner in this endeavor and we hope the Congress will act quickly to reprioritize grant funding and ensure our first responders have the capabilities to plan and respond."

"The Washington State Chiefs recognize the risk associated with High-Hazard Flammable Trains (HHFT) and support the opportunities for fire departments impacted by HHFT’s to be able to plan, prepare and train for the impacts associated with the risk,” said Wayne Senter, Executive Director, Washington Fire Chiefs.  “We support Congresswoman Herrera Beutler's FD PREP bill that recognizes the need to make AFG funds a higher priority for fire departments impacted by these trains moving through their area."

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