Final Passage of USAR Bill Good News for Responders, Families

Fairfax, Va. – The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) today applauded final passage of the National Urban Search and Rescue Response System Act (S. 2971). The bipartisan legislation, strongly supported by the IAFC, strengthens the efficiency and effectiveness of FEMA’s disaster assistance capabilities and programs.

Specifically, the legislation improves the USAR system by:

  • Clarifying existing workers’ compensation and liability protections
  • Allowing for the election of death and disability benefits
  • Extending reemployment rights to system members when deployed as federal volunteers
  • Allowing for the reimbursement for employees filling positions of system members
  • Requiring the FEMA Administrator to develop a comprehensive plan to finance and replace equipment as recommended by the U.S. Government Accountability Office

"Our search and rescue teams, many of whom are volunteers, perform a critical public service often under most extreme and dangerous conditions," said Chief John Sinclair, IAFC president and chairman of the board. "This legislation makes important changes to the system which will help protect our frontline responders, their families and others who are deployed to contribute their specialized skills to rescue missions."

 The House of Representatives passed the bill on Dec. 7. The Senate pass the bill on Dec. 10. Subsequently, the president signed it into law (PL 114-326).

 The IAFC thanks the following members of Congress for their leadership on securing final passage:

  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio)
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.)
  • Sen. Carper, Thomas R. (D-Del.)
  • Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Pa.)
  • Rep. André Carson (D-Ind.)
  • Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)
  • Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.)
About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more

Jim Philipps | IAFC Assistant Director, Strategic Communications
703-537-4829 | jphilipps@iafc.org 

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