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Congressman Gus Bilirakis

Representing the 12th District of Florida

Bilirakis Demands Answers of FEMA

January 19, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC:  After reviewing initial FCC findings which indicate Hawaii state officials were improperly trained on how to navigate the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), Congressman Gus Bilirakis raised serious doubts today as to whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been compliant with a new law he authored which was designed to prevent the exact type of public safety mishap that occurred in Hawaii last weekend.  The 2016 law, commonly referred to as IPAWS, requires FEMA to develop and administer a training program for state and local officials on how to effectively utilize the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts, and yet many may have not yet received such guidance. In a letter to Administrator Long, Congressman Bilirakis demanded official clarification as to whether or not the agency has been compliant and if so, he sought specific details about the dates of administration and the content of the training.

Public Safety has always been a priority for me, especially after serving as Chairman of the U.S. House Homeland Security Committee’s Emergency Preparedness, Response and Communications Subcommittee. It was through my work on that committee that I first became aware of the issue with IPAWS and the need for better training of local officials. Technology can be an invaluable, life-saving tool when used appropriately.  But as we saw this weekend, it can evoke mass chaos and fear when not properly managed.  I certainly hope that federal agencies followed the carefully-constructed law and delivered high quality training to all appropriate officials.  If not, they need to be held accountable and that training needs to occur immediately in order to ensure that this never happens again,” said Bilirakis.