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In the wake of fluctuating heightened homeland security concerns, it is America's first responders who have assumed additional responsibilities with regard to mitigating weapons of mass destruction and hazardous material release events.

The Buffalo Fire Department remains committed and stands ready to protect the citizens of this city in the best way possible in the aftermath of such an event.

Since Sept. 11, first-responder agencies have been burdened with additional operational costs due to enhanced and specialized training requirements, and technology and equipment upgrades necessary to help meet safety needs and concerns.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has been very supportive of the plight of the emergency services community and realizes the importance of securing funding from the Department of Homeland Security. Clinton is sponsoring a new Homeland Security Block Grant Bill that will allow this much-needed funding to bypass state and county government siphoning and go wholly and directly to where it is needed most -- the cities of this state.

Passage of this bill would allow Buffalo's Fire and Police Departments to pay for overtime costs related to homeland security, provide their members with the best training and equipment available, and assist departments in overcoming any deficiencies that may jeopardize the safety of their members -- our first responders.

Current city financial conditions should not diminish the responsibilities of the Fire and Police Departments to provide the best protection of our citizens.

There is a solution: Clinton's Homeland Security Block Grant Bill. The time for the release of these funds directly to the cities is now.


Buffalo Fire Commissioner

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