A bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, would make certain HAZMAT operations a “high priority” in the federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program in order to prepare fire protection for oil train accident response, her office announced.

Both Herrera Beutler and Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, are behind the Fire Department Proper Response and Equipment Prioritization Act (FD PREP Act), which would address that currently the AFG program does not consider equipment and training specifically for train derailment incidents as being high-priority grant applications, the announcement explained. The grants are used to provide resources for local fire departments to improve the health and safety of the public and protect firefighting and emergency medical service personnel.

“Safety is our chief concern for Southwest Washington communities along rail lines and first responders must have access to the equipment and training necessary to keep residents protected in the event of an oil train accident. I’m pleased to reintroduce this bill today to ensure these critical resources are available to our firefighters,” Herrera Beutler stated in the announcement.

 “Firefighters across the nation are unified in their commitment to respond to a range of emergencies and we are grateful for their dedication. This bipartisan legislation ensures our first responders have access to grants that support the specialized training and equipment necessary to respond to rail based incidents for the shared goal of community safety,” Higgins stated.

Ridgefield Mayor Don Stose thanked Herrera Beutler for introducing the FD PREP Act, which as of Nov. 5 was in the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

“This is a critical bill that will help communities impacted by crude-by-rail shipments prepare, train and be better equipped to deal with a possible derailment or god forbid an explosion. Interstate shipments of crude move through our community on a regular basis and we need a strong federal partner to provide the necessary resources to our local first responders. We commend the Congresswoman for leading this fight,” Stose stated in the release.

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