The board of directors of the International Association of Fire Chiefs today approved a statement endorsing the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet). “The IAFC believes that FirstNet, by providing dedicated, interoperable, mission-critical data communications, will enhance emergency-response operations throughout the fire and emergency service for years to come. FirstNet will be a vital component for an effective response to a terrorist incident or a natural disaster and for everyday response,” the statement said.
“The major nationwide LTE carriers have been unable or unwilling to provide fire-rescue services and other first responders with an ability to pre-empt civilian users to allow for unfettered network access for mission critical purposes. As a result, there is presently no interoperable mission critical communications network available for fire-rescue personnel to share data among their cohorts or other public safety first responders,” the statement added. “Accordingly, the use of mission critical data in the field of emergency services is limited and nearly non-existent. A nation-wide interoperable data communications system is a vital component for an effective response to terrorist incidents, natural disasters and everyday response.”
“Therefore, the IAFC encourages fire chiefs throughout the nation to participate in FirstNet’s consultation process with all 56 states and territories,” the statement continued. “This will ensure that our members’ priorities, most importantly the expeditious delivery of FirstNet services in every state, are a critical factor in every governor’s decision.”
In response to the IAFC statement, FirstNet Chief Executive Officer Mike Poth said, “From the beginning, the IAFC has been a key advocate for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network. It joined other public safety leaders across disciplines to come together like never before to fight for this Network and has been a critical partner each step of the way. The men and women of our nation’s fire and emergency services deserve to have the 21st century tools they need to keep themselves safe, save lives and protect our communities. We appreciate the IAFC’s continued support as we work to swiftly deliver this Network to public safety.”
The IAFC statement came as FirstNet plans to award a contract by Nov. 1 and as it has drawn criticism in a widely-discussed article in the “The Atlantic.” The story prompted several public safety leaders and groups to blast the article. – Paul Kirby, firstname.lastname@example.org