WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Jaime Herrera Beutler reintroduced 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 local fire departments 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.
“First responders in communities along rail lines must have access to the equipment they need to keep residents safe,” said Jaime. “Public safety needs to be a top priority with hazardous materials like crude oil already being shipped through Southwest Washington. Let’s close the loophole in this funding program to better protect our cities, residents and natural resources.”
“The oil train explosion in Mosier last year was a wakeup call for communities throughout the Northwest,” said Joe Molina, Vancouver Fire Chief. “Oil trains are rolling through our neighborhoods now and we need additional resources and training to respond to a train derailment, spill or explosion. Congresswoman Herrera Beutler’s bill provides a common sense approach to freeing up already available federal resources to oil train communities throughout the country. Vancouver strongly supports the legislation and we appreciate the Congresswoman’s leadership on this critical public safety issue.”