After experiencing first hand FEMA’s failure in handling the response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Congressman Thompson became the driving force behind the restructuring of the broken agency.junction with leaders in the Senate, Congressman Thompson successfully created a new and improved FEMA, one with the ability to respond quickly and effectively to any terrorist attack or natural disaster. Drawing on his 26 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter in Hinds County, Congressman Thompson understands that our nation’s law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical services personnel are our first line of defense in times of emergency.
Congressman Thompson is sensitive to the void created by shortfalls in state and local budgets, coupled with increased responsibilities of local emergency service departments. With that in mind, he has constantly fought to ensure they are fully equipped with the resources and tools they need to effectively respond to any and all emergencies, and he has been a tremendous advocate for federal grant programs to help address a variety of equipment, training, and other emergency and disaster-related needs.
Congressman Thompson has been an outspoken supporter of the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (FIRE Grants), which has proven to be a very effective program in providing local fire departments with funding for basic equipment, training, health and safety programs, apparatus and public educations programs they need to perform their duties. In addition, Thompson has opposed efforts to eliminate the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant Program, a critical program aimed at addressing staffing shortfalls in our Nation’s fire departments by providing grants to support hiring of career firefighters and programs for the recruiting and retaining of volunteer firefighters.
Thompson recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3026, H.R. 3027, and H.R. 3028) that will significantly improve our country’s disaster preparation and recovery programs. The legislation is designed to improve “predisaster” mitigation programs, in order to minimize damage before it happens. In particular, the bills will help low and middle income residents harden their homes and apartments and help the small businesses that are the lifelines of our communities. The legislation also will support innovative first responder programs, focusing on projects that the first responders themselves identify as most likely to save lives and property.