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Reps. Herrera Beutler, Higgins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Strengthen Emergency Response to Oil Train Accidents

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

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Washington, D.C., November 5, 2019 | comments
U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Brian Higgins (D-NY) introduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act) today to better equip firefighters 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.
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U.S. Representatives Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) and Brian Higgins (D-NY) introduced the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act) today to better equip firefighters 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 local fire departments to improve the health and safety of the public and protect firefighting personnel, including volunteers and emergency medical service personnel.

“Safety is our chief concern for Southwest Washington communities along rail lines and first responders must have access to the equipment and training necessary to keep residents protected in the event of an oil train accident. I’m pleased to reintroduce this bill today to ensure these critical resources are available to our firefighters,” Herrera Beutler said.

“Firefighters across the nation are unified in their commitment to respond to a range of emergencies and we are grateful for their dedication. This bipartisan legislation ensures our first responders have access to grants that support the specialized training and equipment necessary to respond to rail based incidents for the shared goal of community safety,” Higgins said.

“Being prepared and equipped for the various threats our community faces is one of the most important components to saving lives and property. 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. This common sense legislation will open up the program to ensure departments like ours have the capabilities to better deal with a derailment, spill or explosion. 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,” Vancouver Fire Chief Joseph Molina said.

“I want to thank Congresswoman Herrera Beutler for introducing the FD Prep Act. This is a critical bill that will help communities impacted by crude-by-rail shipments prepare, train and be better equipped to deal with a possible derailment or god forbid an explosion. Interstate shipments of crude move through our community on a regular basis and we need a strong federal partner to provide the necessary resources to our local first responders. We commend the Congresswoman for leading this fight,” Ridgefield Mayor Don Stose said.

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