Fitzpatrick First Responder Bill Passes House

Bipartisan legislation prepares local first responders for 9/11-style attack

September 14, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Legislation authored by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-08) to help federal, state and local first responders prepare for terrorist attacks passed the House of Representatives Thursday by a vote of 398-4, just days after the 16th anniversary of the September 11th 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. 

“As we mark the sixteenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, we remember the nearly 3,000 innocent people lost in that heinous act – including 18 from my home of Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Additionally, we honor the more than 400 first responders who perished, and the countless more whose long-term health was impacted because of their courageous action,” said Fitzpatrick, a former FBI Supervisory Special Agent and EMT. “Since 9/11, 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. That is why I introduced H.R. 3284, the Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series Act of 2017, to authorize a vital workshop series allowing State and local jurisdictions to prepare for coordinated terrorist attacks. I’m grateful for the support of the Homeland Security Committee and Representatives Murphy and Donovan for working to advance this crucial legislation.”

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. 

This is Fitzpatrick’s second bill to pass the House of Representatives. The legislation now moves to the Senate for consideration.


  • Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX) - Homeland Security Committee: “America’s first responders deserve no less than the very best programs and resources to keep their communities safe. The Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshop Series ensures first responders across the nation can continue to defend against a coordinated terrorist attack. Mr. Fitzpatrick’s bill will ultimately ensure our communities are ready to best prepare for, protect against, and respond to coordinated terrorist attacks.”

  • Nathan Catura - Federal Law Enforcement Officer Association (FLEOA) President: “The horrific damage and loss of life caused by terrorists 16 years ago reminds us of the devastation into which first responders insert themselves on a regular basis.  Whenever state, local, federal, and tribal first responders react as one unified team, the public benefits in countless ways. As a former federal agent, Congressman Fitzpatrick knows the benefits H.R.3284 will have by expanding the unified training and communication of responders. It is because of the previous JCTAWS training and the additional training H.R.3284 will generate that the public safety community has made considerable progress since the 9/11 attacks.”  

  • Fire Chief John D. Sinclair - IAFC President and Chairman: “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. 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.”

  • Rep. Dan Donovan (R-NY) - Chair the House Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Communications “Hundreds of first responders – many of them from my district – gave their lives 16 years ago in an attempt to save others. They’re heroes, and they rose to meet an impossible challenge. Today, terror networks continue to plot coordinated attacks. Constant training for first responders is critical to quick, life-saving actions during a terror strike. I’m proud to join Congressman Fitzpatrick and Congresswoman Murphy in sponsoring this legislation to authorize joint counter-terror workshops.”

  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL) - Member of the House Armed Services Committee and formerly a national security specialist at the Department of Defense: “As a Member of Congress representing central Florida, I know firsthand the difference that highly-skilled, well-prepared first responders can make during a crisis.  During the 2016 Pulse nightclub terrorist attack, law enforcement officials, medical professionals and other first responders saved many lives.  Joint Counterterrorism Awareness Workshops will help communities across the country establish effective policies and procedures to prevent, plan for, and respond to a coordinated terrorist attack. This bipartisan bill, which I am proud to co-lead with Rep. Fitzpatrick and Rep. Donovan, will help keep our communities safe.”