While the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the 2020 presidential election landscape, preventing in-person campaigning and conventions, this year has been no different in terms of our commitment to support Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Together with Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), Biden’s pick for vice president, this ticket creates an administration as close to fire fighters as any this union has ever seen.
The International Association of Fire Fighters shares a special relationship with former Vice President Joe Biden. He has been one of the strongest and most influential voices for fire fighters in Washington, DC, throughout his career and has been this union’s true friend for more than 30 years. Biden knows us, and we know him. He understands the needs of our members. His record on the issues important to public safety and to our members is clear – he has and always will have our back.
A Leader for Fire Fighters
- As vice president, Joe Biden was tasked by President Obama as the administration’s point-person on first responder issues. Since day one of his vice presidency, Biden has served as a proactive, ardent advocate for professional fire fighters and paramedics, working closely with the IAFF and its leadership.
- During his time in the Senate, Biden played a leadership role on nearly every piece of legislation introduced affecting fire fighters.
Standing Strong for Collective Bargaining
- Senator Biden co-sponsored the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, IAFF priority legislation to establish collective bargaining rights for all fire fighters, and voted in its favor.
- As senator, Biden voted to defeat right-to-work legislation and voted to restore bargaining rights for federal fire fighters under the National Security Personnel System (NSPS).
Protecting Our Pensions and Retirement
- Senator Biden served as a strong advocate of the Healthcare Enhancement for Local Public Safety Officers (HELPS Act), IAFF priority legislation to help retirees afford health insurance or long-term care insurance by providing a tax-free distribution from retirement plans.
- While senator, Biden voted against raising the Medicare eligibility age and fought against efforts to tax employer contributions for health insurance and pension plans.
- Throughout his career and term as vice president, Biden worked to keep fire fighters and police officers out of Social Security.
- Senator Biden supported the 7(k) exemption to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the inclusion of EMS personnel in the exemption, ensuring fire fighters receive their earned overtime after 53 hours.
Providing for Families of the Fallen
- Early in his Senate career, Biden championed the Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) program, which provides death benefits to the families of fallen fire fighters.
- Later, Biden introduced and passed legislation to increase PSOB benefits from $150,000 to $250,000, and indexed it to inflation so the benefit is now $340,000.
- Biden supported and helped enact legislation extending PSOB benefits to fire department chaplains and individuals named in fire fighters’ wills.
- When the Department of Justice delayed the delivery of PSOB benefits to survivors — sometimes for years on end — Vice President Joe Biden helped break through the logjam and deliver much-needed and overdue benefits to families of the fallen.
Ensuring Fire Fighter Safety, Sufficient Staffing and Equipment
- Senator Biden helped create the Assistance to Firefighters (FIRE Act) and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant programs, and consistently advocated for robust funding.
- As vice president, Biden fought to double the funding for the SAFER grant program and worked to institute the SAFER waivers that saved thousands of fire fighter jobs.
- As senator, Biden voted to allow the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) to establish an ergonomic standard benefiting fire fighters.
- Senator Biden voted to pass the Ryan White Notification Act requiring fire fighters and EMS personnel to be notified by hospitals in the event of exposure to bloodborne or airborne transmittable diseases.
- Biden introduced legislation in the Senate to establish a fire service bill of rights, including the right of fire fighters to know about the dangers posed by hazardous materials and exposure to infectious diseases encountered during emergency response.
Taking Care of the Heroes of 9/11 and Other National Tragedies
- Before the establishment of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, Senator Biden voted to fund health screenings for 9/11 responders.
- As vice president, Biden helped push through the Zadroga 9/11 Act to provide healthcare and compensation to those fire fighters who participated in the 9/11 response and recovery efforts.
- While senator, Biden voted to provide funding to aid communities devastated by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Enhancing Our Homeland Security
- Biden introduced legislation in the Senate to implement the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, including providing funds to states and localities to prepare for and prevent terrorism and enhancing emergency and interoperable communications. He later voted to implement the 9/11 Commission Report.
- Senator Biden voted to create the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and to reform the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) within DHS, reuniting disaster preparedness and response functions under a single agency and embracing an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness in order to prevent repeating the mistakes of Hurricane Katrina.
- As senator, Biden supported and voted to allocate homeland security funds to those communities at the highest risk and threat of terrorism, and voted to increase funding for such communities and supported legislation to provide the IAFF with funding for state-of-the-art hazardous materials training free of charge to fire fighters nationwide.
Enhancing Public Safety Communications
- As vice president, Biden worked tirelessly with fire fighters and Congress to pass legislation creating a nationwide public safety broadband network.
- In the Senate, Biden voted to fund interoperable communications for fire fighters.
Serving Our Nation’s Federal Fire Fighters
- In the Senate, Biden voted to protect federal employee pensions from cuts, including the pensions of federal fire fighters.
- Senator Biden voted to increase the cap for uniform allowance for federal fire fighters.
- While senator, Biden voted to ensure reimbursements paid to the Department of Defense (DoD) under mutual aid agreements were reinvested back into DoD fire departments.