Gordon Leads Efforts To Protect Middle Tennessee From Fire, Tornado Damage

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WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Bart Gordon used his chairmanship of the House Science and Technology Committee to advance two bills that will help Middle Tennessee communities fight fires and better protect homes and buildings from windstorm damage.

The Committee unanimously passed The Fire Grants Reauthorization Act of 2009 (H.R. 3791), which reauthorizes and improves the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs.

"Over the last two years, these programs have helped fire stations in virtually every Middle Tennessee county I represent purchase new equipment and vehicles, as well as improve training and hire additional firefighters," said Congressman Gordon. "The bill my committee passed today will make it easier for fire departments in Middle Tennessee and across the country obtain these grants and ensure our communities can get the resources they need to better fight fires."

The bipartisan Fire Grants bill approved by the Science and Technology Committee will make it easier for local fire departments to take advantage of AFG and SAFER funding by lowering the matching funds requirements for the AFG program and modifying the time and matching commitments for the SAFER program. The bill has been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the National Volunteer Fire Council.

Gordon's committee also approved The Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2009 (H.R. 3820), which reauthorizes and strengthens the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program.

"The impact of natural hazards on communities can be devastating. In the past two years, tornadoes have killed 24 people and injured more than 100 people in Middle Tennessee alone," stated Gordon. "Making households, businesses, and communities more resistant to these forces of nature can save lives and billions of dollars."

The National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program was created in 2004 to decrease the loss of life and property from windstorms. The program supports research, development, and technology transfer activities to mitigate the potential damage caused by severe windstorms.

The bipartisan Natural Hazards bill that passed today includes provisions to support the development of more accurate windstorm modeling and forecasting tools. The bill has been endorsed by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The Fire Grants and Natural Hazards bills approved by Gordon's Committee will now move to the House floor for a full vote.
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