Allocating the D Block spectrum to public safety will positively impact life-saving operations and how it can be accomplished.

IAFC: Allocate D Block Radio Spectrum to Public Safety

Jeff Johnson, immediate past-president of IAFC, urged House members to move forward with legislation that will allocate critical radio spectrum to public safety and enable the creation of an interoperable public safety broadband network.

Fire Chief Jeff Johnson, immediate past-president of the IAFC and current executive director of the Western Fire Chiefs Association, testified Wednesday before the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. He urged members to move forward with legislation that will allocate critical radio spectrum to public safety and enable the creation of an interoperable public safety broadband network.

Johnson's testimony provided an overview of how the allocation of the D Block spectrum to public safety will positively impact life-saving operations and how it can be accomplished. “Local control of the network by public safety agencies is critical,” Johnson said in his remarks before the committee. “Utilizing a single technology with adequate spectrum will ensure nationwide interoperability and allow us to effectively manage day-to-day operations as well as major incidents.”

The FCC currently has the spectrum slated for public auction to commercial interests, who will have the power to determine public safety access as needed.

Johnson reiterated the IAFC’s and other public-safety leaders’ charge to take this opportunity to change the status quo from a commercially decided “as needed” to a public safety-decided “when needed” environment.

Johnson acknowledged that the development of a public-safety broadband network would not be easy or inexpensive, but that repeating the mistakes of the past 50 years will only lead to a repeat of communication failures on the incident scene.

“Following numerous major events and other significant disasters that demonstrate communications failures, we know that a new model is necessary,” Johnson said. “Required is a national architecture for public-safety wireless communications.

At the hearing, Johnson was representing the Public Safety Alliance, an organization consisting of nine national associations representing the leadership of public safety, including the IAFC. Today is the third time IAFC officers have testified in favor of the D block since the beginning of the year.

To learn more about the D Block, visit the IAFC Government Relations webpage or the Public Safety Alliance website.

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