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IAFC President: FirstNet is Critically Important to Public Safety

Fairfax, Va. – G. Keith Bryant, IAFC president and chairman of the board, today testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation that FirstNet’s goal of building a nationwide public-safety broadband network to meet first responders’ needs is critically important for public safety. He reaffirmed the IAFC’s belief that FirstNet “is developing the leadership, staff and support from states, public safety and other key stakeholders required to make the network a reality.” An archived webcast of the hearing is available on the committee webpage (Bryant's oral remarks begin at the 29-minute mark).

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the committee, convened the hearing, “Three Years Later: Are We Any Closer to a Nationwide Public Safety Wireless Broadband Network?” to examine the progress of FirstNet's nationwide wireless broadband network for emergency responders.

“As a veteran fire chief, and as a firefighter who has responded to numerous large-scale events including natural disasters and acts of terrorism, I know firsthand the benefits that the FirstNet network stands to offer in terms of improving communications, coordination and situational awareness during emergency response operations,” testified Bryant, fire chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “Just as smartphones have changed our personal lives, FirstNet devices and applications ultimately will change the way local fire and EMS departments operate.”

Bryant said the ability of a single communication network to dispatch EMS and fire personnel, a medical helicopter and other emergency responders from different jurisdictions all at the same time while enabling video, text and data communications at broadband speeds will save critical minutes when it matters most.

Bryant said that “while there are still gaps in understanding and agreement during these in-person meetings on what the final network will look like, how much it will cost for public safety to use and the network’s exact coverage areas, these are exactly the types of questions that should be—and are being—asked and debated at state consultations throughout the country. Public safety must be included in these conversations and we appreciate FirstNet’s engagement with the public-safety community over the past year.”

Read Chief Bryant’s full testimony (pdf) online.

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