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the Health, Education, and Welfare Department to give us a favorable report on it.
However, I want to place myself in the position of disagreeing with them because if there is a group of men who are giving more of their time and making more sacrifices in this country to save life and property for no pay, it is this army of volunteer firemen all over the country.
It has been my privilege to have been a member of a volunteer fire department for the past 30 years, and I think I know something about the problem and what they go through.
I am not going to take the time of the committee. I have a statement that I have prepared which I would like to have included in the minutes of the meeting at this time, and just close by saying regardless of the stand taken by the present administration, I think this is a good bill, that the Congress should act on it, and if we do, we will be doing a service to all of the people of our country, because these men are on call at all times.
When that fire siren blows, it does not make any difference to them whether they have their best suit of clothes on and only suit of clothes on, or whether they lose a day's work or not, they go and answer the call, whether it be to save a life or to save that particular piece of property that may be on fire.
So, with that opening statement and thanking you for the privilege of appearing before your committee, and for the interest that you have shown in all these bills, I am going to present this statement for the record.
Mr. McCORMACK. Thank you very much, Congressman Fogarty. (Statement in full of Congressman Fogarty follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN E. FOGARTY, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF RHODE ISLAND
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am pleased to have this opportunity to appear before you in support of the bill which I introduced in the House of Representatives in June of 1957. This bill, H. R. 7929, proposes to amend the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 to permit the donation of surplus property to volunteer fire-fighting organizations. To me its purpose, and the purpose of the other similar bills now before you, is of the greatest importance. I would like to commend each of you on this committee for having recognized this importance by scheduling the present bearing.
Volunteer fire companies have a long and proud history in this country of ours. Due to its widespread rural population, the vastness of the land, and the very great number of small towns and villages, America has actually became a nation of volunteer fire departments. These organizations, manned by civicminded, dedicated persons, have contributed perhaps more than any other group to the well-being and the safety of the smaller communities. Most of the communities served by these volunteer fire departments are small and cannot afford a paid fire department. Even if they could afford a paid department, it would not be economical for them to do so.
In these communities many public buildings, such as schools and hospitals, require fire protection not only to avoid the loss or damage to these buildings due to fire or other disaster but at the same time to provide trained fire fighting personnel so as to reduce the chances of injuries and loss of lives as a result of such disasters. Fire-insurance rates for all property holders in a community are greatly reduced when some form of an organized fire department is available. Fires each year destroy property valued at hundreds of millions of dollars and these losses not only reduce the wealth of the Nation but also cause insurance rates to increase even for those individuals served by paid fire departments.
I have personal knowledge of the contributions of these volunteer firemen, Mr. Chairman, for I have been a member of such an organization for close to 30 years. My activity with the Harmony fire district in my own hometown and the Woonasquatucket Valley Firemen's League, which I had the privilege of serving as president, has given me close insight into the devoted service in the protection of life and property which such organizations perform. Through this association I have become aware of the continuing problem they face in trying to secure adequate equipment to carry on their excellent fire-fighting work. Over the years there has always been the ever-present struggle to raise funds for badly needed equipment. Funds are often meager and the available equipment, too often, insufficient.
It would be difficult for me to think of more deserving recipients of Federal surplus than the volunteer fire departments of the Nation who would put this equipment to the direct use of saving lives and property. At present, such equipment can be donated free of charge to educational and public health institutions which are required to pay only the costs of care and handling. I would like to see the same opportunity offered volunteer fire departments.
The bill which I have sponsored would authorize the Administrator of the Federal Properties and Administrative Services Act to donate surplus equipment and materials to volunteer fire-fighting organizations throughout the country. It would put these organizations in a position to be able to improve their services by permitting them to secure equipment and materials which are now denied them through lack of financial ability to buy.
It seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that no better use could be made of supplies and equipment which have been declared surplus to the needs of the executive agencies than to donate them to those protectors of life and property-our volunteer fire-fighting organizations.
I urge you and the members of this committee to favorably report my bill, or one which has the same objectives, in order that action can be taken by the House and Senate before adjournment of this session of Congress. I am confident that should such a bill be presented with committee approval it would quickly be enacted into law. By so doing, we in the Congress will be indicating our appreciation to the members of these volunteer companies for their great contributions in the past. At the same time we will be providing them with the tools by which they will be able to do an even better job in the future in pro viding fire-fighting services to the rural and suburban communities of this country.
Mr. McCORMACK. I might say for those who are not Members of the Congress that this is a select committee consisting of three members. We have two-thirds, so we have a pretty good quorum here.
I make that reference so you will know it is not a committee of 5, 7, or 9 and that only 2 of us are here.
I notice our friend, Congressman Nimtz, of Indiana, who has also introduced a bill.
We are very glad to hear from you, Congressman.
STATEMENT OF HON. F. JAY NIMTZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA
Mr. NIMTZ. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I too, like our colleague, Mr. Fogarty, shall be brief and I shall file a statement that I have prepared.
Mr. McCORMACK. Without objection, the statement will be made a part of the record.
Mr. NIMTZ. Mr. Chairman, I cannot say that I have been a volunteer fireman for 30 years like our colleague, Mr. Fogarty, but I can say I have been a volunteer fireman since 1947.
When I returned home from war service, the volunteer fire department idea was beginning to gain great interest in Indiana and many new departments were beginning operation and I helped the Clay Township Volunteer Fire Department north of South Bend get organized. It is the company that takes care of a township which lies between the University of Notre Dame and the Michigan State line, it is the second most populous unincorporated township in Indiana. I am a member of that department.
By helping them organize I became acquainted with their problems of organization, finance, and getting equipment. Since that time we have had a number of companies organized within the county and in other parts of the State, and I join with Mr. Fogarty in saying that this is a very dedicated group of individuals who give of their time, their money, and even some have given their lives in being volunteer firemen and fighting fire and other disasters within our communities.
I, too, regret that various governmental departments have given unfavorable reports concerning these various bills that have been introduced and let me say, Mr. Chairman, I hope that the committee will, in its great wisdom, see it possible to permit a bill to be reported out. Mr. Chairman, I will support any bill that comes out that will put volunteer fire companies on the eligible list for donable surplus Government property.
I regret that the governmental departments have seen fit to give an unfavorable report on these bills, because when one looks over the list of eligible organizations, I think it was an unintentional oversight or just that the volunteer fire companies were not in the mind of Congress at the time the original act was passed.
They were just forgotten. Here is a group of people, both men and women, as with every volunteer company one will always find an auxiliary, who will give suppers, who give bingo games, who give fish fries, who collect waste paper and other types of material to sell and raise money so that they can provide themselves with equipment to fight fires in order to save lives and property within their community.
By the courtesy of our colleagues, Mr. Hyde, of Maryland; and Mr. Broyhill, of Virginia, we have a number of volunteer firemen here this morning, Mr. Chairman. These men represent the thousands and thousands of volunteer firemen and the auxiliaries who are in the United States today.
The gentleman in the gray suit here nearest the chairman is Mr. Ferris Filley, who is the present president of the Dunn Loring Volunteer Fire Department, of Fairfax County, Va.
Then we have Mr. G. B. Robinson, the chief of the Burke Volunteer Fire Department, of Fairfax County, Va., and past president of the county association.
Then, next here, in the blue suit, we have Mr. Milton Alexander, fire commissioner of the Franconia Fire Department, of Fairfax County, Va.
On the other side of the table we have with us W. J. Thomas III, president of the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department and the chairman of the public relations committee of the Montgomery County, Md., Association of Volunteer Firemen.
I know that if the chairman or the members of the committee have any questions that they might have concerning volunteer fire companies or their operation or what this donable property would mean to them, these gentlemen would be most happy to facilitate the committee in that regard.
Thank you, sir.
(The statement in full of Mr. Nimtz follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. F. J. NIMTZ, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATS
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I want to thank the committee for the opportunity of appearing here this morning with many of my colleagues concerning proposed legislation to make volunteer fire companies eligible for the donation of surplus governmental property. My bill is H. R. 3406, and there are other similar bills which have been introduced.
Also here this morning are a number of representatives from volunteer fire companies near Washington. It would have been possible to get many of these volunteers to appear here this morning from all parts of the country. However, they would have had to do so at their own expense, or at the expense of their departments. Further, because of the full agenda for this morning's meeting, it was felt that several volunteers from the immediate area would do a good job of representing their compatriot companies throughout the entire United States, I am sure that the committee is aware of the interest in this bill on the part of a number of volunteer fire companies and firemen throughout the country because of the large amount of correspondence that has been received.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I speak from experience in this field, as I am a member of the Clay Township, St. Joseph County, Ind., Fire Department, which is the second most populous unincorporated township in Indiana. It is immediately north of South Bend, and lies between the University of Notre Dame and the Indiana-Michigan State line. I helped organize this department in 1947, and, thus, I am well acquainted with the problems of financing a department and of securing adequate equipment with which a volunteer department can perform the mission for which it was organized.
These gentlemen and their ladies (for wherever you find one of these volunteer companies, you also find a ladies' auxiliary to the department) give many hours of their time in building equipment or raisng money to provide equipment so that they may have an adequate department to safeguard the lives and property of their fellow citizens. They are a dedicated group of individuals, who regularly give 1 or 2 evenings per week in training for their mission, or building their equpment or keeping it in shape; and then they agree to respond at the time of any emergency-day or night-to fight a fire that threatens their property or their neighbors' property, or the lives of their fellow citzens.
Most of these departments have cooperative arrangements with adjoining departments to respond to their call for aid whenever the occasion arises. These companies perform a service and governmental function that would ordinarily be paid for by an addition to the local tax rate. However, often the taxable value of the property within the township or community is not great enough to raise funds sufficient to staff adequately a paid department, and, thus, these volunteers fill this need by organizing and maintaining a volunteer fire-fighting company.
Under section 203 of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949, Federal surplus personal property determined by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to be usable and necessary for educational or public-health purposes, including research, may be donated by the Administrator of General Services through State surplus property distribution agencies to tax-supported or nonprofit tax-exempt medical institutions, hospitals, clinics, health centers, school systems, schools, colleges, and universities. Under a recent amendment by Public Law 655 of the 84th Congress, surplus personal property usable and necessary for civil-defense purposes may, in like manner, be donated to civil-defense organizations of States, or political subdivisions and instrumentalities thereof. With respect to both of these programs-by delegation from the Federal Civil Defense Administration in the latter case-such property is allocated among the several States by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, although, within the several States, distribution to eligible agencies and organizations is made by the State distribution agencies subject to basic Federal regulations and standards.
Also, surplus personal property under the control of the Defense Department which is determined by the Secretary of Defense to be usable and necessary for "educational activities which are of special interest to the armed services"a phrase which has been very broadly interpreted—may be donated for such activities pursuant to allocation by the Secretary of Defense. Such defense
related donations are given priority over donations under the other two programs.
H. R. 3406, and bills similar to it, would add to the eligible list for donation of Federal personal surplus property volunteer fire companies and departments. The items which would be available for distribution would, of course, vary from time to time, and would differ and would be of various quantities in different parts of the country; because, as personal property items are declared surplus, they are moved to the closest point of distribution, and are not distributed equally to the various points throughout the country. To do so would cause expense of sorting, packing, and transportation.
From my investigation of this program, it is my belief that volunteer firefighting companies would be able to secure such items as rope, tarpaulins, shovels, axes, picks, lanterns, and other pieces of equipment that would assist them in fighting a fire and protecting property. Also, if they maintain a kitchen at their headquarters, they could possibly secure surplus chinaware, knives, forks, spoons, and cooking utensils. On occasions, stoves have been declared surplus.
It is my belief that the enactment of this bill to include fire-fighting organization in the list of eligible organizations would not hurt nor compete with commercial equipment companies whose business is the sale of fire-fighting equipment, as the items would be small in nature and ones which are considered as expendable items by the departments, in that they wear out within a relatively short period of time, either through use or breakage. The volunteer companies would continue to purchase fire trucks, high-pressure fog equipment, bose, nozzles, aerial ladders, and the like.
Mr. Nimtz. On behalf of our colleague, Mr. Broomfield, of Michigan, I should like to file a statement on his behalf, sir.
Mr. McCORMACK. Without objection, it is so ordered. (Statement of Mr. Broomfield follows:)
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM S. BBOOMFIELD, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mr. Chairman, volunteer fire-fighting organizations are the only lifeline in time of natural and manmade disaster for many of our Nation's communities. In many cases, these organizations lack the equipment and the facilities to cope with any large-scale conflagration.
In relation to the protection which these units furnish to the citizens of their home communities, their equipment needs are small. They consist of such things as water tanks, pumps, fire hose, tank trucks, rope, axes, hooks, and the various other paraphernalia which is required to cope with the smali and large disasters which frequently strike our communities.
Much of this needed equipment is in various Federal Government warehouses, unused and unwanted. Much of it has been designated for sale as scrap. Because of the small amount of equipment which each of these volunteer units needs, these organizations are unable to compete in purchasing needed equipment in wholesale lots. They must acquire their facilities a bit and a piece at a time.
Therefore, I am sponsor of H. R. 10377 which would permit volunteer firefighting organizations to acquire this surplus Government equipment at no substantial cost to their respective communities.
This would put our surplus Federal equipment to valuable use. It would insure that the equipment needed to cope with a specific disaster at a specific spot will most likely be on hand when and where it is needed.
There is another important reason why I believe that these valuable volunteer organizations should be helped in every way possible to obtain the equipment they so badly need, yet which would be an impossible financial burden for their communities to bear.
Most of these volunteer organizations are located at some distance from metropolitan areas. Quite often, they are in the areas which have been earmarked by civil-defense officials as the places for people in our metropolitan areas to gather in case of either enemy attack or such natural disasters as tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and the like.
If the central city is knocked out, and its residents flock to the outskirts and beyond, who is going to take care of them? We know that there are substantial civil-defense installations near many of our major cities. But I