Good afternoon. My name is Chief Gary Ludwig, president and chairman of the board of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. I am the fire chief in Champaign, Illinois. My career also includes 35 years serving in two metropolitan cities, St. Louis and Memphis.
Our message today is simple: In the name of public safety in our largest metropolitan areas such as New York, Boston, and Los Angeles, Congress must repeal the T-Band auction mandate. Unfortunately, time is running out for Congress to act. The nation’s fire chiefs are not here to say HOW, but—respectfully—here to say NOW.
The aforementioned metropolitan areas and several others are often on the frontline of the most challenging public safety and homeland security issues of the day. In order to have the capability to respond to any crisis, fire departments must have access to interoperable communications, namely on the T-Band.
For first responders who encounter life-threatening scenarios every day, an operational radio is essential. An officer on a busy metropolitan fire apparatus will transmit over the radio one-hundred times a day. To put that in perspective, a given metropolitan fire department may have anywhere between 150 to 700 frontline units responding to calls, putting the average number of daily radio transmissions in the tens of thousands. When a major incident occurs, like a terrorist attack or an industrial plant fire, this number can jump into the hundreds of thousands. Using the allocated T-Band spectrum, cities build robust and resilient communications systems that enable responders to rely on their radios when they are most needed.
Since 2012 when Congress required the FCC to auction off public safety licenses on the T-Band, members of Congress and public safety advocates have highlighted the damage this mandate would have on the emergency preparedness on our nation’s cities. In June 2019, the U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report that highlighted the lack of alternate spectrum options in many of the T-Band cities. The GAO urged Congress to repeal the T-Band auction mandate. In December, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a statement in which he confirmed that “relocation costs for public safety licensees would…exceed any potential auction revenue, making it impossible to…comply with the mandate.”
The IAFC agrees! We commend the work of Senators Schumer, Markey, Representatives Engel and Zeldin, and other senators and representatives leading the bipartisan charge to repeal the T-Band auction mandate in Congress. It is imperative that Congress pass legislation repealing the T-Band auction mandate THIS YEAR, before time runs out.
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more