Fire chiefs discuss Sept. 11, aftermath

Sunday, August 25, 2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The man charged with restoring the security of America's transportation systems after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is asking the country's firefighters for help.

James Loy, chief of the Transportation Security Administration, said Saturday that firefighters already know how to train for and respond quickly to unexpected emergencies.

"The American people know that when they need help, you will always be there," Loy told thousands of firefighters at the annual convention of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. "You have set the standard. We want to work with firefighters to rise to that reputation, to reach that level of respect."

The Transportation Security Administration was created after Sept. 11, focusing first on airport security. But Loy said its mission will eventually expand to all modes of transportation including railroads, trucking and ports.

Loy said the security administration's roots are "unfortunately, firmly planted in the blood that was spilled on 9-11. But we are charged with looking to the future."

About 17,000 fire chiefs and personnel are attending the weekend conference, focusing in speeches and workshops on how fire departments must respond to potential new terrorist attacks.

Loy said the transportation administration will turn to firefighters for help establishing and implementing proper training and response procedures.

"You do that better than anyone in the world," Loy said. "We need to go to school with you. ... We can't claim ignorance anymore."

Loy pledged that the transportation authority would eventually set the world standard for protecting and serving the public.

"Our primary objectives will always be to prevent another terrorist attack before it happens," he said. "But we also must restore the confidence of the public."

Loy and other speakers said Sept. 11 made it clear that fire departments across the country are understaffed and need better equipment. Missouri's two senators, Kit Bond and Jean Carnahan, pledged Congressional help to increase funding for firefighters.

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