Committee Advances Bipartisan Bill Strengthening First Responder Preparation for Terror Attacks

Fitzpatrick-Murphy-Donovan Legislation Authorizes JCTAWS

July 26, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Homeland Security Committee passed bipartisan legislation on Wednesday introduced by Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08), Stephanie Murphy (FL-07) and Dan Donovan (NY-11) aimed at helping federal, state and local first responders prepare for terrorist attacks.

The Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series Act of 2017 [H.R. 3284] authorizes the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series (JCTAWS), a nationwide initiative, conducted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to help State and local jurisdictions prepare for, protect against, and respond to coordinated terrorist attacks. 

  • Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent and EMT, said: “From Mumbai to Paris, we’ve seen the devastating impact of coordinated terrorist attacks on civilian targets. In these cases, first responders including local police, fire and emergency medical personnel are the main response force. It is crucial these men and women have the training and tools to operate in these planned attacks. As a first responder, I am proud to work with the House Committee on Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications Subcommittee on introducing the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series Act of 2017 to authorize vital training sessions allowing state and local jurisdictions to prepare for, protect against, and respond to these treats to our communities.”
  • Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy said: “Protecting our communities must be a top priority.  I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan bill, which trains federal, state and local officials to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.  Orlando hosted a Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop in 2014, and the lessons learned during this workshop were critical to the emergency response to the ISIS-inspired Pulse nightclub attack last year.  As we work to include Orlando on the list of cities that receive UASI funding, these training workshops are another way to help keep central Florida safe.”
  • Congressman Donovan, Chair of the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications, said: “Quick and decisive action is crucial when responding to an active terror situation, and exhaustive planning is the key to preparedness. This is a good bill that will help local authorities maintain readiness if and when they’re faced with a terror attack.”

JCTAWS brings together a wide range of first responders including law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services, and public health officials as well as the private sector and nongovernmental organizations to prepare for, prevent against, and respond to a coordinated terrorist attack. Since 2011, over 30 cities have hosted these workshops, where they test their current plans, policies, and procedures while identifying gaps and best practices. After each workshop, the host city, with its Federal partners, develops a summary report with key findings and possible gap mitigation strategies. 

“On behalf of the nearly 12,000 fire and emergency service leaders of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), I express our support for H.R. 3284, your legislation to authorize the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series (JCTAWS). These multidisciplinary exercises help local jurisdictions prepare for the threat of complex, coordinated terrorist attacks,” said Fire Chief John D. Sinclair, IAFC President and Chairman (letter attached). “Local jurisdictions must be prepared to respond to multiple incidents at the same time involving active shooter incidents, explosives and the use of fire as a weapon… The JCTAWS exercises provide an environment where local fire service, law enforcement, emergency medical service, private sector and other disciplines can plan for joint response to these incidents.”