- The Washington Times - Monday, March 16, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) - Vice President Joe Biden said Monday the Obama administration is committed to getting firefighters the equipment, training and additional staffing they need to do their jobs.

“They’re not just puffed up platitudes,” Biden told members of the International Association of Fire Fighters. “This is your new government taking bold action to ensure that as a community of firefighters you are as strong as possible.”

Biden spoke to the group at its legislative conference in Washington. The association represents more than 292,000 full-time professional firefighters and paramedics.

“I understand we can’t make an inherently dangerous profession safe,” he said. “But we certainly can make an inherently dangerous profession safer than it is.”

Biden said a lack of firefighters is putting the lives of other firefighters at risk. He said that would change with the new administration.

He also said President Barack Obama would sign legislation to give firefighters and other public safety officers the right to collective bargaining. The measure was stalled in the last Congress, and it is pending again this year.

Biden told the group that he and his family owe the first responders who saved his two young sons after a car accident in 1972. His first wife and infant daughter were killed in the accident. Both boys recovered fully.

“To you, it’s a job. To us, it’s our lives,” he said. “And we owe you. And I just want you to know that it is something that everyone in my family fully understands.”

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