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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Houston Firefighters Shortchanged By The Bush Administration

February 23, 2004
Press Release
Washington, DC - Today, Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) visited Houston Fire Station #30 to see first hand whether Houstons first responders have the personnel, training, radios, and protective gear needed to save lives. More than two years after 9/11, the federal government still hasnt given firefighters across our nation sufficient resources to prepare them for a potential terrorist attack.
For many Americans, when there is an emergency they call 911 and the emergency workers respond quickly, said Green. But it takes resources, commitment, and hard work to make the system work right and save lives. 
As our cities face continued international terrorist threats, they need more first responders.  The federal government should assist with the costs for homeland security. Americas firefighters proved their commitment and hard work in New York on 9/11, but since then fire stations across the country have closed due to a lack of resources.
Houston firefighters need updated training, interoperable communications equipment, and more HAZMAT capability, added Green. These same men and women have been working without a contract for over three years and we dont have enough firefighters on our trucks. All these problems can be attributed to a lack of resources.
According to the Congressional Research Service, the Bush Administrations has resulted in a net decrease of $605 million in first responder funds from FY2004 levels.  Texas and Houston have been getting the short end of federal first responder dollars since 9/11.  Pittsburgh receives $35 per first responder, Seattle receives $29, Cleveland $21 and Houston only receives about $10 per person.
First responder funds have been allocated according to a political formula, sending too much assistance to rural states with low population and low threats. Houston has many valuable assets like our port and the petrochemical complex, concluded Green Houston is the only community in our country that meets all 15 federal threat criteria. Its wrong to balance the budget on the backs of firefighters and first responders.