Fairfax, Va. – Fire Chief G. Keith Bryant, IAFC president and chairman of the board, testified today before a panel of leaders in the field of homeland security and bioterrorism that violent extremists would like to use biological and chemical weapons in terrorist attacks within the United States and that local emergency responders must be prepared with assistance from the federal government.
“There is a real threat that violent extremists would like to use chemical or biological agents in domestic terrorist attacks,” said Bryant, fire chief of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “These biological and chemical agents require the use of industrial chemicals that play an important role in our daily life.”
Bryant appeared before the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense, co-chaired by former Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Tom Ridge. Other panel members include former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala, former Senator Tom Daschle, former Representative Jim Greenwood and the Honorable Kenneth Wainstein.
Bryant testified that, while the initial response would primarily involve local first responders, the federal government has a large role to play in any successful response to a terrorist attack using biological agents or chemicals.
“One major role for the federal government is providing important threat information to local first responders,” Bryant said. “Considering the myriad potential threats and the budgetary constraints of local governments, local first responders need to know for which threats they should prepare.”
Bryant continued, “The federal government provides a number of critical resources to help state and local agencies, including planning resources, training opportunities, and material support through funding. As federal, state and local governments address tightening budget capabilities, we must focus on remaining prepared to protect our citizens from this pernicious threat.”
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